I have a curious and open mind and I like learning. Travel is my passion. It provides me with a glimpse into non-conceptual reality - fundamental freedom or emptiness, especially when I am away from familiar linguistic and social environment.
I remember the first experience of travel being about five-year old boy running across tall wheat field into the pine forest surrounding the rural hamlet where we lived. I would do that after receiving a reprimand or spanking for mischief which was very common those days.
The experience of moving into a mystery of solitude in a new space was profound for me: waves left in a wake of the running wind through tall blades of wheat appearing as an invisible caress of something infinitely larger than anything known to me. The tall straight ship-mast-worhty pines personified as fraternal witnesses to my young mind's question: "If I walk straight and long, what will I see when I reach horizon?"
During a mandatory army service of cold war in an area cordoned off from civilian life, connection to nature grew stronger as a channel to connect to the energy that gave my body form, that which is beyond words or concepts. Among the dull brutality of soldier's life where internal life was demanded to be shut, my sole covert trips from the base into the raw wilderness of Korelsky Peninsula during everlasting summer polar days provided "spa treatment" for my buttoned up soul. There was my bridge being built into the mystical world absent of names and concepts — a state of simple being.
This bridge into infinity took a concrete direction when the first love of my life betrayed me, by marrying someone else, leaving me shocked and speechless for months. A long trip to Central Asian Tian Shan Mountains was to become a galvanizing experience culminating in direct contact with the divine grace that melted a long-pervading victim part of my identity. The incident pointed me to a learning orientation to life and crystalized a view in which appearances lost their inherent existence and became to be perceived as representations of types of energies or meaning.
Shortly before cataclysmic collapse of The Soviet Union, I took a leap of faith into unpredictable peregrinations across Europe in search of a freer place to be. Not knowing the language was a hidden blessing appearing very frightening. It gave me a curriculum in mindfulness, imagination and faith in own inner resources. The environment was unknown, but my inner reflection of it was not dusted with conceptual overlay and I had a clearer view of what "I" was. The set up couldn't be better for observation of how my consciousness was weaving reality with every word learned in a new language.
Studying photography at San Francisco Art Institute worked as a sharpener of my perception vehicle, positing an idea that perhaps "how I was seeing the world, the world is". Relationship between the observer and the Universe explored through medium of photography was nesting seamlessly into my affinity with the travel.
I experienced travel as therapy through acute circumstances surrounding the loss of my girlfriend to ovarian cancer. At the time it felt that there was nothing left but pain in my world. I felt an inaudible call to travel solo into the place unknown to me. Soon I was flying in a fourteen-seat turboprop from Katmandu to Tumlingtar in Eastern Nepal. In my mind I was connecting with this remote region intricately woven with trails starting from flats of the Indian subcontinent to the border of Tibet.
Having such a burden I was looking forward to simply being there. In a place where not knowing the language I would communicate on the level of the heart, recognizing the beautiful essence of a human in a stranger's eyes. I was longing for healing by being received kindly as a distant relative into a bloodstream of common humanity in pristine environment.
When I came back with measurable results of well-being, a new insight into purpose and possibilities of travel as therapy begun to take shape.
My awareness was catapulted to an unprecedented height once I enrolled in Counseling Spiritual Psychology Program at University of Santa Monica. Life's events started to make profound sense, like beads strung on a thread of unique ornament of life.
I am engulfed in study of consciousness and sublime energies of the mind that create our individual reality through perception. Painting, photography and writing supported by meditation practice are my tools for bringing forth answers of self-inquiry. I find that travel with intention offers a possibility to experience freedom of simply being, and glimpse a state of non-duality and wholeness directly.
My belief system governed by awareness that everyone has a potential to allign themselves with expression of their best qualities of inherent nature of goodness. I LOVE LIFE. To me it is a kaleidoscope (infinite combination of choices that create consequences) where I see the ultimate value — to grow and develop.
Experiencing authenticity in another by way of learning of their courage to accept the totality of experience is one of the most enduring gifts I collect. It gives me a great feeling of inspiration and gratitude to listen to fellow travelers, their stories of personal heroism, meaningful adventure and transformation.
I like to serve others in the process of spiritual evolution through personal life counseling, direct mentorship and through publication of travel-soul-therapy website.
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May you be inspired on your unique journey,
Anatoly Petrenko, Psych MA
Freedom Sage Coaching