As part of our island-hopping Greek adventure, we visited Tinos, which is completely different to any other Greek Island we had visited before. It's a big island: quiet, unspoilt, yet rich in spirituality. Tinos is beautifully still, which is reflected in how happy and friendly the locals are.
The port is in the main town and, at the top of the town, high up on a hill is a huge Greek Orthodox Church/Monastery of the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of Tinos).
We were led to go straight there, not that we knew where we were going... We were just exploring and Will was intrigued by what looked like a market up the hill. It was not until we went around a bend that we saw the church; when we reached it, as you can see by the photo, there was a cloud in the shape of a dove above it and we noticed a red carpet leading up, and into, its entrance. The space was beautiful; I had one of those coming-home feelings and it was extremely peaceful and sacred. We sat by the side of the church in the warmth of the afternoon for a while without talking, both of us overwhelmed by the feeling of peace and love that surrounded us.
The Church was built around an icon, discovered in 1823 by a nun who had a vision of where the icon was buried. The icon, believed to be the source of many miracles, is called ‘Megalochari’ (meaning ‘with all Graces’, one of the names given to describe the Virgin Mary), who is the patron saint of Tinos and is considered the saint protector for the country. People from all over Greece take a pilgrimage to this beautiful church; I feel like this might be the Greek equivalent to Lourdes in France.
Every day, people come to visit this beautiful monastery to pray and to give an offering to the Virgin Mary icon for blessings, miracles for hope, wellness and for good health. To keep a solemn promise to the Virgin Mary, some people start from the bottom of the hill and go up to the church on their knees. When we walked back down the hill we noticed a narrow carpet along the curbside going all the way up the hill to the church (softer on the knees I would imagine). In the afternoon heat, it was hard enough just to walk up the hill but then we saw an elderly lady on her knees crawling up. One of the reasons they do this is to be healed, but I would imagine that, if you didn’t need healing before crawling up you certainly would after!
The church is indeed a beautiful place and reminded me of the temples we visited in India where you leave an offering, light a candle, take some holy water and pray. The feeling I had here was the same that I felt in the Dalai Lama Temple in Nepal - it was a sacred moment where nothing else mattered; it felt just perfect, divine.
On reflection, this strong feeling I had of coming home when I visited both the church and the Dalai Lama Temple in Nepal is the same feeling I get when I meditate, give/receive Reiki, when I connect to my stillness. I wonder whether this feeling is generated by something outside of us or whether it’s a feeling that’s always there like the sun, sometimes we can’t see or feel the sun but it’s always there.
Does this feeling of coming home/joy happen when our mind is quiet or is it just when we enter into a sacred space? I am not sure, but I have been to other sacred spaces and have not had this feeling. Maybe some sacred spaces have a higher vibration and the energies are purer, so it’s easier to connect to the feeling of coming home?
Perhaps we can create a sacred space wherever we are by burning incense, playing music, arranging crystals or lighting some candles but have you done this and still not felt that feeling? I know I have.
Now that I think about this, I believe that it’s when I surrender to what is happening in the moment, wherever I am, when I find myself with no thought and when I fully submerge into what I am doing, I find I can connect to my stillness. Perhaps some sacred spaces can invoke that feeling of stillness just because of the nature of the place but I think these special places are a reminder to us that this stillness is within us all and it’s up to us to learn how to reach it.
Yes, we can create a sacred space wherever we go. We can use incense, candles, music, and crystals; we can go to our churches, our temples and we can go to the most beautiful place on earth but, unless we surrender to the moment, the feeling of stillness will always elude us.
For example, we are staying in a little studio in Tinos, overlooking the sea and the mountains around us. It is so still and so quiet you can hear a pin drop. It’s breathtaking and the view is incredible, it's a truly sacred place – it’s a perfect opportunity to put it all into practice. To just be. It’s a perfect place to reflect, to write, to be, there is nothing in the way, no distractions. Luckily it's easy to connect to the feeling here. So the question I come back to is how to create this when I’m back in busy mode, back to the interruptions and disruptions? The answer always comes back to, connecting to the sacred self and surrendering to the moment to whatever happens in our lives; this is where I believe we will find the feeling. Life is a voyage of self-discovery. A friend gave me such a great phrase the last time I saw her, and I have been using it ever since: ‘everything is happening for me’. Throughout this trip, my husband has been saying ‘everything is happening for us’. At the very least, and especially during the occasional challenging moments of the trip, this has lightened the mood and made us laugh. We have felt much more peace and been more resourceful when faced with a challenge that might otherwise have thrown us off our path to peace.
As I am finishing this blog a huge noisy digger has just arrived outside our villa, and it is the perfect time to practice what I have just written. Everything is happening for me!
I am home now and have just been on a run. When I got back to the cabin I felt the feeling again, peaceful, calm, still, no interruptions, happiness, a sort of 'Heaven on Earth' feeling; the same feeling I felt in Tinos, and now in our amazing cabin.
Love, Carolina (The Soul Coach) x
If you would like a day of doing nothing but connect to your Stillness, click here for my latest workshop on Sunday 24th July - https://www.thesoulcoach.com/stillnessforthemindbodyandsoul