Why Peru? Why Not?

from Wisdom Magazine

In the 21st century, the spirit of place and taking spiritual journeys is more important than ever. For master healer, teacher, and visionary Eleanora Amendolara, Peru, its land, spirit, and people offer unparalleled opportunities for self-growth and transformation.

As the Internet makes our world smaller and it becomes so easy to connect with people on the other side of the globe, it is possible to feel like you are immersing yourself in other cultures by simply jumping online. Without disrupting our daily routines, we can learn so much so fast in a way that just wasn’t imaginable even a decade ago. I am in awe of all of the information and connection that come through all these new digital channels, and yet I still believe in the power of place and the transformational potential of taking a journey.

When I first visited Peru nearly two decades ago, I was following the call of my own gypsy spirit that is simply a part of my DNA. Traveling has always been fundamental to my life – shortly after graduating from college I spent a few years crossing Europe all the way to Asia into India and Afghanistan. Though I know my perspective had always been anything but typical, that trip really shook me from the confines of the New York City that I had grown up in. I was deeply transformed with every mile that our Range Rover covered. Though I then came home to New York to raise a family, my own nomadic fire still burned brightly and I was still drawn to explore new territory. I did much of that exploration through my work as a healer, learning the inner landscapes of the people who came to me for help. But when Peru opened its arms to me, I knew I had to respond – it was time to pack my bags again.

Peru always offers an extraordinary richness for both the spirit and the senses that you just cannot find anywhere else in the world. I travel there at least once a year, and am always struck by the way that its ancient wisdom is embedded in the very stones and mountains. With every trip, I am amazed at the joy and generosity that flow so easily from the Peruvian people.

The Andean peoples still follow the way of their ancestors and embrace the spiritual code of ayni, a Quechua word that means “reciprocity. Their culture not only honors the earth and the cosmos, but each individual. The gentle, driving force behind this living philosophy involves giving no more than you get and taking no more than you give. How delightfully simple! There is an inherent balance in this wisdom that precludes so many of the psychological dramas and calculating agendas that mark modern Western life. We would do a great service to ourselves and to our community if we were to model this way of living. To embrace ayni is to emerge as an integrated, globally minded soul. Should enough people begin to live this sacred law, we just might begin to witness the great unfolding of a peaceful world community that is nourished by shared abundance. Together, we could walk away from a collective existence that is fractured by competition and an obsession with all that we lack.

I am getting ahead of myself, talking about things on this grand planetary scale. We know that these great evolutionary shifts happen one personal awakening at a time. To watch the affect of Peruvian ayni upon the individual is a great privilege and I have had the good fortune to watch it act upon countless people who have accompanied me on my journeys to South America. It just seems to be a place that breeds renewal and transformation.

If someone asks me “Why Peru?” I will most likely respond “Why not?” If they need a little more encouragement or a little more enticement, I will talk about how you can really be the person you want to be when you are adventuring to a place like Machu Picchu or Laguna Negra. Your fears and your obligations fall away and you are able to leave behind the mask that you may wear in daily life. Taking a deep breath and looking at your life from a different vantage point – like from atop a peak surrounding the Sacred Valley – you may realize that much of your personality and your way of being in the world are just the result of conditioning and habit. You recognize how much of your existence has been given over to meeting others’ expectations and to conforming to the dictates of your society. To step away from all that has been holding you back, all of the distractions that so many of us call “real life” illusion can truly give way to spiritual truths.

I invite you to hear the call of Peru as I did. Seasoned travelers will find it to be a journey that feeds the soul. If you have been seeking an excuse to break out of your shell, this is your chance. A trip to Peru offers more than a vacation; it offers a chance to be free of everything that has held you back. Peru has so much to share and teach – let the land, the people, and the spirit of ayni shift your whole way of being.

First published in Wisdom Magazine