lima, peru
Mindful around Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley
May 8, 2016
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It felt good to have Alejandra here and travel with her around Machu Picchu and Cusco. My friend came by all the way from Mexico and not only did she bring new laptop along with her but also lots of laughter and good energy. Our 5 days of girl chat and climbing hundreds of Inca stairs went by much too fast, so once she left I decided to return to the Sacred Valley “just for another two days”.

Chilling in Machu Picchu
Alejandra and I chilling in the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu

Two days in the Valle Sagrado quickly turned into two weeks. If you take the time to let the Sacred Valley work its magic on you, you will find out that it is not only a collection of inca ruins scattered around a beautiful valley. It´s also a spiritual place where travelers experiment with traditional medicine to release negative energy and emotions; a hospitable place where I became a frequent guest of a retired expats who specifically rents a separate studio for couchsurfers; a peaceful place where an indigoneous local took me on an adventurous walk off the tourist trail…

Machu Picchu in Peru
Waiting for the rain clouds to disappear in Machu Picchu

… and also the place where I “coincidentally” happened to be on time for a meditation retreat held by the Spanish Institute for Mindfulness that allowed me to gain gain deeper insights into mindfulness and happiness, some of which I would like to share here.

Machu Picchu in Peru
Stunning setting of the one of the 7 new world wonders, Machu Picchu

First remark that our zen buddhist Dokusho Villalba made us write down in our notebooks when we set down cross-legged on our meditation mats:

The ultimate goal of life is to be happy.

Calca lagoon in the Sacred Valley
I hiked up to the lagoon during my mindfulness retreat in Calca

We learned about buddhist values and dove into the philosophical theory behind mindfulness.

We can´t know reality directly. We don´t perceive of things in themselves. What we perceive as reality is in part created by our minds. Immanuel Kant

Calca lagoon in the Sacred Valley
Moments of mindfulness in the Sacred Valley

The map is not the territory. No one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain´s response to reality. Alfred Korzybski

Moray ruins near Maras, Peru
Moray ruins near Maras, Peru

Our emotional equilibrium is like the ocean. No matter how bumpy it might get on the surface, remember that the floor of the ocean remains calm.

Stunning view over Ollantaytambo
Stunning view over Ollantaytambo

Conscious breathing has become a main aspect of my trip. Unsurprisingly, the mindfulness retreat was all about it.

It´s not me who breathes, it´s the body. It does not represent me, but it´s part of me.

Ollantaytambo in Peru
Visit of the free ruins in Ollantaytambo

Where do we draw the line between “me” and “the rest”? All conflicts are conflicts created by borders. There would not be any conflicts without borders, because it would all be one.

Ollantaytambo in Peru
My inca marathon around the Sacred Valley

Nobody can achieve happiness by locking themselves up on a remote island that is surrounded by an ocean of suffering.

Pumamarka in Peru
Recicling mindfulness in Pumamarka

Mindfulness is like energy. It´s recicleable, we can regain it if we take time to rest and meditate.

Inca ruins in Pisac
I enjoyed having the Inca ruins in Pisac to myself

Mindfulness is not an intellectual knowledge, it can only be experienced. Happiness can be achieved through practising mindfulness and being in the moment.

Good times in the Sacred Valley in Peru
Good times in the Sacred Valley in Peru

After three beautiful weeks around Cusco and the Sacred Valley it´s time to keep moving! I am grateful to my friend, couchsurfer host, meditation buddies, locals, shaman, zen master, and friends online who helped me to recharge my energy and refuel my solo travel spirit. Ready to take on the 7-day-trek around Ausangate 😀