Swayamblhunath, Kathmandu Nepal 2015

I’ve been thinking about this concept for a few days, letting things percolate, if you will. This idea that each of us have seven sacred spaces on the planet. Places that recharge us, teach us something about ourselves, that have the potential to split open the earth and be separate from the world; capturing these little infinities that swirl around us, apart from time.

These are a few of the places I’ve witnessed.

Austin, Travaasa Solidago Gardens, Root Chakra

This retreat space is a single room, surrounded by a garden and wall with all the major world religions symptoms carved in stone on the outside. The center of the room forms a perfect cross and the light from the sunset comes in over the Texas hill country and hits just perfectly in the center of the room. The space reminds me of chakras and peace, of quiet solitude and mindfulness. It nurtures.

Black Rock City, Burning Man, Sacral Chakra

This transient city exists in the minds of those that inhabit it. It’s a city of lights and sounds, of experience and wonder. The environment itself is hard and unforgiving; it does not tolerate casual visitors well within its trash fence. The temple is the holy place in the city, where religions come together and no one is ever alone. We all reach towards something more connected, something more than this place we call the default world.

New Orleans, The Curb at the Corner of Royal and St Peter’s Street, Solar Plexus Chakra

This is my favorite place in my favorite city. There is always music here and to the right is the Place de arms and the Jackson square. To the left and around the corner is the heart of quarter and the cacophony that is Bourbon. It’s like a crossroads without the demon. This place speaks to me and gives my strength. People pass by here and leave parts of themselves behind, little bits of their souls sneak away and to listen to the jazz and trip the light fantastic.

Amsterdam, Wonder Bar, Heart Chakra

This dark place in the city of canals carved out a lounge facing onto the street. It holds bar cats and hookahs and absinthe. Streams of tourists wandering by made it feel like this kind of magic gypsy carnival of people from all over the world. The town is Camus’ La Chute; a seedy and vibrant cross section of humanity. Lot’s wife looks back and turns to salt. It’s a human thing. So it goes.

San Antonio, Hotel Emma, Throat Chakra

The hotel is part an old restored brewery called the Pearl. The lobby area is full of reworked brewery mechanisms in this classic steam punk fashion. There are two red leather couches to the left when you come in, cozy and dark. This respite from downtown. Another window into another world. It’s a magic place. Anything you say here comes true.

Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah Grand Mosque at KAUST, Third Eye Chakra

I came here at night, half a world away from home. It was one of the first mosques I had a chance to visit in my life and I was struck by how similar it felt to the catholic churches I had visited in my life. The stone and art, all reaching toward a distant God. How this striving seemed so like Christian religions attempts to reach to God through stone, art and tradition. Different paths to the same truth. I walked the stone floors barefoot and ran my hands against the walls.

Swayamblhunath, Kathmandu, Crown Chakra

Known to many as the monkey temple, the stupa exists on the top of a large hill, 365 steps lead to the top. It’s a pilgrimage site for Buddhists and houses a Tibetan monastery. My visit there was too short and when I return, I crave the idea of sitting quietly at the top, freeing my mind of thoughts and losing myself for a bit in the history and culture. Also, be aware that the monkeys there—those monkeys will steal your shit.