“It must have happened to many of us, when we are walking alone in a wood, when the sun is just about to set, that there comes a peculiar quietness. There is no movement of air, the birds have stopped singing and there is not a leaf stirring your own sense of quietness, a sense of aloofness, comes over you.” – Krishnamurti
Upon reading these words by Krishnamurti – who was born in 1895 in India and is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers and spiritual teachers of recent times – we are reminded of the purpose behind Awasi.
Nature as a form of art
Acutely aware of the fleeting nature of time, when opening the first Awasi lodge (Awasi Atacama back in 2007) we decided that each room would have its own vehicle and guide. Why? Firstly because each guest comes with a unique set of interests and requirements, but also because we believe it is most rewarding to experience quiet moments of contemplation and connection with nature alone or with those you have chosen to travel with.
People travel far and wide to experience the iconic landscapes of the three corners of South America where our hotels are located – the mountains of Patagonia, the desert of Atacama, the waterfalls of Iguazu – yet often the most precious memory that they take away is created during an unexpected moment, far from the crowds and famous sites. A moment when they feel in contact with nature and at peace with themselves.
In is writings, Krishnamurti explains the subtle workings of the human mind, and advocates the need for meditative and spiritual elements in our daily lives.
“As you watch, as you listen to the beauty of the evening, in that extraordinary quietness when almost everything seems to be motionless, you are then in complete communion, in complete harmony, with everything about you there is no thought, not a word, there is no judgment or evaluation, there is no sense of separateness. I am sure you must have felt all this, walking alone, leaving all your burdens, worries and problems at home, following a path along a river which is always chattering; your mind is very quiet and you feel totally at peace, with an extraordinary sense of beauty and love, a feeling that no words can describe.” – Krishnamurti
Creating space for peaceful contemplation
Our private guides are trained not to fill every moment with words or the sharing of facts, but to measure the mood and needs of their guests, making sure they have time and space for moments of contemplation in contact with nature. We urge our guests to travel to fewer places, staying longer and really allowing themselves to appreciate the destination.
Forest bathing at Awasi Iguazu
Growing interest in the healing properties of the woodland and forests have made us think about how to incorporate forest bathing in to our excursions at Awasi Iguazu, our 14 villa Relais & Chateaux lodge in Northern Argentina.
Otherwise known as Shinrin Yoku, forest bathing has emerged from Japan as a way to use meditative techniques and the properties of forests – the peaceful, clean atmosphere combined with the sounds and smells – to enhance well-being and mental health. Another relevant Japanese reference comes in the form of the word “ukiyo” which means “the floating world” and refers to “living in the moment, detached from the bothers of life”.
This brings to mind the words of Juan Pablo Culasso, a renowned birdwatcher who recorded the sounds of the Atlantic Rainforest: “The advice that I give to Awasi’s guests while taking in some of the world’s wonders, is to take a deep breath and close their eyes for five minutes. After that, they can tell me how much they heard and how much they saw.”
Part of the process is readjusting what we define as an achievement. For example, climbing a volcano is a wonderful feeling, but there is also a huge amount of joy to be found in contemplating the world around you.
“I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling…”
Moments to remember
“There are places that are ideal for taking a moment to connect with nature,” says Resident Manager Cristian Asun who has been working with at Awasi Patagonia since the hotel opened back in 2013 and started out as a guide.
“When I was a guide, I favoured the excursions that were less known, for example Lazo Weber where there is a view over the lake that leaves you hypnotised. The air there is so silent you can hear the air move between the feathers on a condor’s wing as he flies by. These are the moments that stay with you forever.”