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Canary Islands, the Mindfulness Archipelago

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In our stressful world it can often be difficult to disconnect. If only we could truly appreciate the beauty of the world, the beauty of ourselves. The stunning scenery of the Canary Islands leads itself to reflection. The immensity of its landscapes, its volcanos, ravines, beaches, cliffs and forests, permit the tourist to see the world in context, to seize the moment. There are few places in the world better to watch the sun go down. 

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Thanks to its geography and the initiative of the local people, the Canary Islands has become one of the world’s leading destinations for mindfulness (or the practice of living in the moment). The atmosphere of calm which stretches all the way round the archipelago has led to the establishment of groups and associations with specially designed facilities. There are teachers on hand to enable guests to enjoy the pleasure of the here and now amongst extraordinary natural beauty. Classes are offered in yoga, meditation and calm thinking. Mindfulness isn’t only about slow, gentle movements and a peaceful state of mind though, it can also mean strenuous activity. So the Canary Islands mindfulness network offers guests the option of sports such as surfing, diving and trekking.  Estar aquí y ahora. La atención plena. Este es, en pocas palabras, el concepto al que se refiere el mindfulness, algo muy fácil de describir, pero en ocasiones difícil de llevar a cabo, sobre todo en la sociedad de la hiper estimulación digital en la que vivimos. Sin embargo, el mindfulness ofrece también el método para lograrlo, con técnicas de gestión de las emociones, las reacciones, las actitudes y el pensamiento para poder así llegar a la conciencia plena. www.holaislascanarias.com/canaryfulness/ 

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Tenerife 

With a peak, Mount Teide, which has been recorded as the highest mountain in Spain and the third tallest volcano on the globe, Tenerife sits near the top of the world. Many visitors choose to climb Mount Teide and meditate during the early hours of the morning when the sun rises up from the ocean. Others choose to stay on the foothills, a unique landscape which has been described by poets as resembling the moon. The 4,000-metre-tall peak seen from below operates a calming influence on the human mind. Antequera beach is sandwiched between the ocean and a vertical cliff. Between two such powerful natural features, the benefits of practicing yoga and meditation on the sand have long been proclaimed by locals. The beach is an out-of-way spot which, although there is a walking path open, is best accessed by boat from Santa Cruz or San Andrés. One particular retreat, Estilo Verde in Güímar, deserves a mention for its yoga, mindfulness and meditation expertise. Located amongst volcanoes, avocado farms and the Atlantic Ocean, this centre offers accommodation and teachers of exceptional warmth and experience.  

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Gran Canaria 

Famed for its varied landscape, Gran Canaria has been described as the world in miniature. The north of the island is green and lush while the scenery on the south coast is arid. There are mountians of almost 2,000 metres in height, such as the Morro de la Agujereada, with envious views. Some beaches have absolutely clear waters and startling rock faces and yellow sand like Guayedra while others have black volcanic sand and spectacular glimpses of mountains in the distance like Güi Güi which overlooks Mount Teide. Recommended retreats on this island include the Mahalo Healthy House, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. A typical eight-day stay would involve nineteen hours of yoga classes, mindfulness and holistic workshops as well as four excursions to notable locations on the island.  

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Lanzarote 

Lanzarote’s antidote to earthly worries is an uncommon presentation of natural beauty. There are literally hundreds of volcanos, lava fields, palm-lined valleys, dreamy beaches with turquoise water and charming little towns with white houses. A 10 kilometre leisurely walk around the Caldera Blanca crater is a great place to absorb the wonder of the world. To the south of the island, five minutes by car from Playa Blanca, the isolated natural pools of Los Charcones are a brilliant place to take a dip, plunge under the water and remember the pleasures of life. Whilst cooling off on the rocks around the pools meditation is recommended. In the interior of the island, surrounded by vineyards, Shama Retreats have a reputation for exceptional accommodation and healing activities. Their double cabins and vegan and vegetarian menus are ideally suited to the peaceful traveller.  

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Fuerteventura 

In the more than 150 kilometres of shoreline, no two beaches on the island of Fuerteventura are the same. For those that practice yoga, meditation and other mindfulness activities on the pristine sands and pebbly shores it is soon discovered that each beach has its own personality. La Concha is a beach where sea lions used to live. Part of the natural park on Lobos Island, it is a picture of calm. It can be reached in just fifteen minutes by boat from Corralejo in the north of Fuerteventura. Casa de La Pared is a retreat which offers an eleven-day course of Mindful Surf and Yoga. In a package which combines the thrills of the waves and the serenity of contemplation, the schedule includes daily yoga and meditation sessions as well as six surfing lessons. A vegan menu is provided along with surfing and yoga equipment. 

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La Palma 

From the very early days of human existence the night sky has been a source of tremendous exhiliration. La Palma is famed for its clear skies. That is why an astronomical observatory was built on top of Roque de los Muchachos, a rock formation some 2,420 metres above sea level. Visitors to La Palma can join scientists in staring at the celestial phenomenon above our heads. To let go and gaze up at the stars is to imagine the origins of the earth and the universe. 

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La Gomera 

Laurel forests are a type of subtropical forest which date back millions of years. La Gomera is one of the few places in the world in which they still survive. Besides this, the island is renowned for its dizzying ravines, valleys coloured by green palm trees, black sand beaches, crystal clear waters and lush forests with springs. Along any stretch of the 650 kilometres of walking paths, ramblers discover the equanimity of being removed from the din of civilisation. The Parador de le Gomera offers retreats for tired minds with yoga, detoxes, meditation, massages, mindfulness talks and excursions. Sleep in restful rooms is provided along with food developed specially to purify the body.  

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El Hierro 

Amongst the marine eco-system, in spectacular volcanic landscape, El Hierro is a great place to experience the new craze of underwater meditation. The waters around the island is part of La Mar de las Calmas which is one of the three marine reserves in the Canary Islands. Freediving El Hierro specialises in free diving and underwater meditation classes taught by professional scuba diver Francisco del Rosario. He explains: “the course isn’t about acrobatics. It’s about profound relaxation and getting to know ourselves on a deeper level than before”.  

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La Graciosa 

The sight of a dirt track stretching off into the distance, a fisherman’s house perched above a golden cover and miles and miles of turquoise sea is peaceful. La Graciosa is the ideal place for silence. The smallest of the Canary Islands has around 700 inhabitants and is the perfect setting for those seeking a holiday away from the world.  Organised out of his little paradise hideaway, the retreats of Yogi José Antonio Machado (connected to Mundo Armonía Lanzarote) are a great place to discover this tiny island for the first time.