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4 Things I Learned on a Mountain In Oman

How to Find Serenity in Solitude

There’s a hidden gem on the Arabian Peninsula that I encourage everyone to venture to: Oman. This desert nation is home to spectacular diversity. Full of infinite deserts, staggeringly dramatic mountain ranges, and miles of pristine coastline perfect for scuba, it’s the ideal retreat for travelers seeking a mix of thrill and tradition. I knew in Oman I would find warm hospitality, great food and miles of amazing hikes thanks to Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar, a unique retreat I love perched 2,000 metres above sea level, atop a gaping canyon. What I didn’t expect was to both uncover and remember some of life’s greatest truths. Here are 4 things that can impact all of our lives that I learned on top of Oman’s most incredible mountain range.

1. Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar is situated literally on the rocky cliffs of the Saiq Plateau on Oman’s treasured Green Mountain. I love rock climbing but scaling a climbing wall in a gym is far different than scaling the side of a mountain. However, I firmly believe that to become stronger and braver we have to practice being strong and brave. It’s not something that just happens – we work on it over the course of a lifetime. Scaling real mountains helps us achieve the other kinds of mountains we face daily in life. I am terrified of falling, of flying and of heights – and that’s the reason why I climbed across the Saiq Plateau. It does not matter how much we shake or how uncertain we feel – it matters that we do the things that scare us the most.

2. Tradition Matters

One afternoon I was invited to spend time with a local man who is following in his 400-year-old family tradition of making rosewater. Rosewater is uniquely part of the Omani tradition, and used to prepare the fast-breaking meal during Ramadan, and to flavor tea and various snacks. The damask rose used to make Omani rosewater grows only in one part of the country, and it’s been prepared in the same way for generations. I watched as the expert taught me how as a rosewater artisan he distills, extracts, and prepares the rosewater, just as his father, grandfather, and generations before him did. The dedication required for this livelihood — and the love and care he put in — reminded me profoundly that tradition matters: it gives us meaning and purpose and pride. It’s easy to become separated from tradition – especially in our western culture but we don’t have to be.

3. Stargazing Is Good For Us

Nothing instills a sense of wonder and perspective like stargazing does. Lying beneath a canopy of constellations, we can find an incredible sense of stillness and peace. Constructed at such a high elevation, and free from light pollution Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar is a stargazing paradise. With the distractions of technology, work, and daily life stripped away, we can revel in the contemplation of the questions that really matter, such as why we exist and what change we wish to create in the world. These are not things to question once in a lifetime – but as often as we can. It can remind us what really matters. What we really want, what we feel and what we need.

4. When We’re Quiet We Can Hear It All

Meditating is one of the most powerful practices we can have in our daily lives and more research every day is proving this. For centuries monks have lived in or meditated on mountains. Some say it’s because it brings us closer to the heavens, or we can better hear the word of God when we are higher. Regardless of the reasoning – there is something to be said for getting quiet in nature. I find meditation essential for my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and just five minutes a day can make a world of a difference in your life too. You can do it anywhere — all you need is a comfortable place to sit, and a few minutes out of the day but taking time to get quiet in nature can make a huge difference.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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