How to Reap the Benefits of Meditation Without Meditating

Thought-clouds

 

The benefits of meditation are far reaching and have been well known for centuries. However, the idea of formal meditation doesn’t sit well with some of us.

The idea of sitting cross-legged for extended periods and delving inward puts many of us off before we’ve even got started. Even the word “meditation” can be a very real barrier to entry for some. What a shame, as the many benefits of meditation can be good for us all.

Those benefits can include:

  • reduction in the stress we feel
  • A deeper sense of calm and relaxation in our lives
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety
  • A better understanding of what we truly think/feel/want
  • Less feelings of anger, hurt, or disquiet
  • Being more present
  • Being more content
  • A better understanding of who we really are

This little list is just starting to scratch the surface. Meditating can be that powerful.

If meditating in a more traditional way for extended periods feels right for you, all power to you— please continue with your journey. If that isn’t you, don’t worry, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be.

If you recoil a little when meditation is mentioned but still want to reap some of the rewards, I hope to offer several ideas that might work for you. But first, a bit of personal reflection.

I Confess I Do Not Have a Formal Meditation Practice

As someone that writes books and a blog all under the broad umbrella of simplicity and that can often be found leafing through books and words by Thich Nhat Hanh, Bruce Lee, Sun Tzu, and Lao Tzu, it may surprise you to know I do not consider myself to have a formal meditation practice.

Perhaps somewhat out of step with the trend of our time, my morning routine (if I even have one) does not have time carved out for sitting cross-legged in a quiet room, reflecting on the universe at large.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire that others do this, but it never really felt like a fit for me. I’ve tried to make it a habit, at a few points in my life, but it just hasn’t stuck.

If I’m honest, I think the word “meditation” itself intimidates many of us. We perceive it to mean we need some special point of entry, or skillset, to reap the rewards.

All this said, perhaps paradoxically, I am also totally sold on the benefits of meditation and I want them to be a part of my life. I just happen to believe you can get those benefits in other ways. Your formal practice doesn’t have to be formal, and you don’t even have to call it a “practice.”

This is where the art of meditating without meditation comes in.

Meditation without Meditating in Action: My Top 6

Here are some of my favorite ways to achieve some of meditation’s powerful benefits without actually feeling like I am meditating.

1. Walking

Walking is my ultimate reset. It blows away the mental cobwebs that can accumulate. It provides new stimulus and re-energises a tired mind. Complex problems I’ve been struggling with can suddenly feel like they fall into place on a good, long walk. A fresh perspective can somewhat magically drift into view.

I like to walk early, before the rush and before the noise of human traffic drowns out the birds singing. Depending on where I am, I like to walk as close to nature as possible (a nice park, a beach, a hike over rolling hills). This is as close as I consider I get to a formal meditative practice.

2. Being at one with the outdoors and nature

The natural world is a passion for me. Something that breathes life and color into any day, if I just make time to stop and notice what is going on around me. I find it grounding and uplifting all at once.

Nature presents us with a constant wonderland. It’s easy to take this for granted. We can fix this by spending some time just being at one with nature and reconnecting with the great outdoors, and we’ll feel so much better for it.

Be amazed by that spider’s web glistening with the morning’s dew.

Take in the sun rising and setting.

Make time to watch the clouds moving overhead, soak up the inspiration that comes from the view.

Be endlessly in awe at nature’s ability to evolve, adapt, and deal with challenges.

Enjoy the offerings of new life and renewal each and every spring, by making deliberate time to stop and notice.

3. Losing myself in music (art)

Some would say this is cheating, as you are using outside stimulus to get a response; I say call it what you will. The benefits that people claim to get from meditation, I have and feel from losing myself in music.

Music is transformative. It can lift our mood on our darkest days, it can ease anxiety when we feel on edge about something, it can shift our mindset.

We can leverage different music at different times to support our state of well-being. Music is one of life’s true pleasures for me, one of the very last things I would want to give up.

However, if music isn’t quite as powerful a force in your own life, perhaps there is something else that is. Literature can, and does, serve the same end. Or a beautiful painting or sculpture that really moves us, or even a really great movie. All of the above can be transformative, life-affirming, and even life-changing ways we can apply ourselves.

4. Seeking stillness

Seeking stillness may sound like a total contrast to the earlier suggestion to listen to music; maybe it is or isn’t, but this time is necessary for me. This is time to let my mind just drift without expecting too much of anything from it. Letting it wander where it wanders. In a results-orientated culture, we can spend too little time here.

Cut to the core, this is actually what meditation is all about. For me, all it really means is taking the time to get in touch with our own thoughts and finding a point of reflection. It’s cutting out the external world for a while and tuning into frequency us. It’s about reconnecting with the signal, amongst the noise.

This is time to turn off the phone, unplug from the internet, and make space for some calm in our day.

Disconnecting a little from the busy world around us, to reconnect with ourselves.

No special cushion necessary, unless you want one, no special seating position necessary unless it helps trigger the state. Just make a commitment to be mindful and find some stillness in your own way.

5. Creating

For me this means writing and playing guitar.

Writing, in particular, is something I spend much time on. I feel better on days and weeks that I have made time to write creatively. Ideas flow freely and come out on the page. I make sense of thoughts and words and try to communicate as effectively as I can, then I refine (edit). When I am truly in a writing flow, this creative process can definitely feel meditative.

6. Exercise (calisthenics, yoga, and breathwork)

I am a fan and practitioner of calisthenics (working with one’s bodyweight as the weight). I find this form of training both physically demanding and endlessly interesting. I enjoy the raw simplicity.

Learning new moves or practicing well-worn moves, trying to perfect them, also has a meditative effect. I’m totally in the practice, and often have to be if the move in question is getting hard or has a balancing element. Trying to create whole body tension for some moves also means I need to be aware of where my breath is (am I holding it somewhere or letting it flow?).

Yoga is relatively new to me and I have been slow to embrace it, perhaps somewhat surprisingly as my wife is a yoga practitioner and teacher and has encouraged me to give it a proper go for years.  Knucklehead that I am, I finally took note and I’ve come to really enjoy this time. I now make time for working on the mat through my week, amongst other exercise I do.

As I am new to the yoga poses themselves, and how different teachers teach, I find I have to be totally present for yoga. No time to think about what comes after or what has just happened; to keep up with the class I have to listen. This has a calming effect on body and soul on the best days.

The breathwork, and constant queues to focus on breath, have also made me aware of where I tend to keep tension (physically and mentally).

Reframing Meditation

What’s great about this list is that you can use these practices interchangeably, and they can happily co-exist at the same time.

I think the “meditation” label puts as many off as it attracts. In busy and distracted times, this is a missed opportunity for us all to feel the benefits.

When we forget the labels, all we’re doing with the practices above is resetting a little. The art of meditating without meditating if you like.

Give it a go. String these resets together on a regular basis and feel the benefits for yourself. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be open to further experiments in formal meditative practice after doing so. If not, just find your own way. Keep what works for you, discard what doesn’t, and call it what you want, or call it nothing at all.

Are your expectations getting the best of you?

Are your expectations getting the best of you?

When my wife and I were first married, we went to meet with a counselor to learn some strategies for improving our relationship. I will never forget his advice after hearing both of us talk about our challenges.

He said, “You both need to do a better job of managing your ‘expect-or’.” Never having heard the term before, I asked him, “What do you mean by that?”

He quickly replied, “Life is a lot easier if you don’t have any expectations.”

Just as quickly, I vehemently disagreed. I thought, “How can you be in relationship with someone and not have any expectations?”

Since that time, I have learned that what our counselor said was true. I have discovered that many of our personal and professional frustrations stem from violated expectations, particularly those which we have not clearly identified or communicated to others.

Here are a number of expectations that may create problems in your working relationships with others if you are not giving them your attention.

1. Expectation of awareness

Often we don’t realize that we haven’t identified our expectations, nor have we distinctly communicated them, until we get different results than what we expected. When this happens, it is necessary to take a look at what we expected and determine if we clearly communicated our desires.

If you are in doubt, then you have no one to blame for your unmet expectations but yourself. We assume that others are aware of what we expect, but often they aren’t. Sometimes we become so busy or distracted that we fail to make others specifically aware of what we want.

2. Expectation that others read my mind

Because our thoughts and feelings about something seem obvious to us, we presume that they are to others as well. We figure if people know us and are tuned in, they should know what is needed without it being spelled out. Making these types of assumptions is a recipe for miscommunication and frustration.

3. Expectation of clear communication

When we take the time to tell people what we want, we suppose that they clearly understand what was communicated. Differences in communication style, life experience, education, age, various levels of authority, etc. mean that we might not understand each other in the same way. There are too many variables to assume understanding without being specific and allowing for clarifying questions.

4. Expectation of similar performance

We each have a level of performance and ability we are accustomed to achieving. It is common to expect people to perform exactly the way that we would. If you haven’t clearly explained how something should be done, you can’t assume that others will do it the way that you would.

5. Expectation of job satisfaction

Attaining job satisfaction rests with both the manager and the employee. Each is dependent upon the other to meet their expectations. The manager has the responsibility to meet the expectations of the employee. The employee is also required to meet the expectations of the manager.

If neither party has ever explored one another’s expectations, then it is entirely possible that neither party’s expectations will ever be met. So much for job satisfaction.

6. Expectation of engagement

Managers may expect employees to take responsibility for improving their engagement, while employees may expect that managers will take responsibility for their disengagement. When this happens, each party may be silently waiting for the other to meet their expectations. Meanwhile, nothing happens.

7. Expectation of infallibility

We would like to think that we are above making missteps. Because we are all different, you can trust that your expectations will be violated, plus you will sometimes not meet someone else’s expectations. The likelihood of difficulties will dramatically decrease as we discuss our expectations of others. Expectations are often held, but not communicated. Therein lies the problem.

8. Expectation of competence

Because we assume that no news is good news, we expect that the absence of negative feedback means that we are doing a good job or that our manager is satisfied with our performance. We may also assume if we don’t hear about problems from our direct reports, that all is well. Given that people are generally afraid to talk about what matters most, if you want feedback, you had better ask for it. If you don’t ask, you may never know.

9. Expectation of vision

You can’t expect that people want the same things or want to achieve the same goals. Working on the same project or having specific goals does not mean that both parties hold a mutual vision or purpose. The vision needs to be clearly identified and both parties need to understand how each contributes to the achievement of the mutual goal.

10. Expectation of why

Just because your expectations are clear doesn’t mean that people will understand the reasons behind what you are asking them to do. You want to be clear about the why to increase motivation and expand another’s purpose.

11. Expectation of priorities

You can’t expect others to know your priorities nor can you expect to know another’s priorities if you haven’t clearly communicated. Knowing how frequently they change, it is important to revisit priorities frequently if you expect your efforts to contribute to the desired results.

12. Expectation of need

We often presume to know what others need based on our expectations and experiences. If we don’t communicate with them, we may not be supporting them in the areas they need to achieve our expectations. Failure to meet an individual’s needs in areas such as resources, support, education and development may limit their success.

13. Expectation of feedback

Whether you are a leader, manager or employee, you generally cannot expect people to give you unsolicited feedback. Often the higher up the organization you are, the more difficult it is for people to want to provide feedback. So if you want feedback, you need to ask for it. When you receive it, listen for factual specifics or examples, and if you don’t get any, then you need to ask. Feedback is often hard to come by, so when you receive it, be grateful and express appreciation, then look for actionable items that can help you improve.

These are some examples of the kinds of expectations that may limit our success. Taking the time to clearly identify your expectations, communicate them to others and check that you have been understood will improve your relationships and your ability to achieve the desired results.

Stuck On You – Lionel Richie

 

“Fate controls who walks into your life, but you decide who you let walk out, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.”

“Don’t let someone else control what you do in life. It’s your decisions, your outcomes, your life.”

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Title: Stuck On You – Lionel Richie

 

 

Lyrics: Stuck On You – Lionel Richie

Stuck on you
I’ve got this feeling down
Deep in my soul
That I just can’t lose
Guess, I’m on my way
Needed a friend
And the way I feel now I guess
I’ll be with you till the end
Guess I’m on my way
Mighty glad you stayed

I’m stuck on you
Been a fool too long I guess
It’s time for me to come on home
Guess I’m on my way
So hard to see
That a woman like you could wait
Around for a man like me
Guess I’m on my way
Mighty glad you stayed

Oh, I’m leaving on that midnight train tomorrow
And I know just where I’m going
I’ve packed up my troubles
And I’ve thrown them all away
Because this time little darling
I’m coming home to stay

I’m stuck on you
I’ve got this feeling down
Deep in my soul
That I just can’t lose
Guess, I’m on my way
Needed a friend
And the way I feel now I guess
I’ll be with you till the end
Guess I’m on my way
I’m mighty glad you stayed

 

30 Super Inspiring Quotes About Finding Success as an Entrepreneur

1 .”In business, the only thing that is more important than the number is the person.”

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2. “The reality is there’s an element of risk and luck in anything that you do. But I find that with disciplined risk, you’re either winning and succeeding or you’re learning. And that’s really the foundation to evolving and growing as a business.”

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3. “Being an entrepreneur means one word: freedom. I have the ability to chart my own course and pursue what I’m passionate about.”

Brandon

4. “I know that I’ve got to do my job better and harder than anyone in that building so that everyone there can take care of their families. And that’s one of the coolest feelings for me.”

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5. “The word to me is synonymous with ‘hustler.’ As an entrepreneur, you cannot be afraid to put yourself and your ideas out there and figure out how to give them life.”

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6. “I do not have a staff of hundreds. I have a very tiny staff trained as artists and architects, and I only take on one building at any given time. I’m very protective of staying small.”

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7. “Most successful people reflect daily. It gives our brain a chance to pause the chaos with conscious thought of our previous actions and to hopefully derive meaning/learning from those moments! But only if you’re honest with yourself!

Mario Amstrong

8. “‘Fear of failure’ is something that shouldn’t be in your vocabulary in the military, or entrepreneurship. You need to take calculated risks and not be afraid of setbacks. And in both cases, you need the mindset that I will do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.”

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9. “Entrepreneurs cross the fine line between crazy and genius.”

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10. “I want to improve the world and spend my life doing something meaningful.”

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11. “Being an entrepreneur is following your passion and finding a profit in it. You spend 70% of your life at work, you better love what you do.”

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12. “An entrepreneur is someone who sees a need in the market and does something about it, rather than just sitting on the sidelines.”

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13. It is about having a vision and mission that is bigger than me.”

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14.”Being in the military taught me to risk it all early and to risk it all often.

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15. “We have to slow down, particularly women who have been taught to overachieve in every single endeavor. They believe they have to be outstanding every single day at being a parent, spouse, and contributor at work. If you are trying to do that, you are going to crash and burn, and very likely not be outstanding at any of it.”

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16. “You need to get to a place where you can prosper at your passion. Like I have a couple of artist friends that have a real job and do their art on the side. If their art gets big, they’ll do that full-time, but there’s no reason to go broke in the meantime.”

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17. “An entrepreneur is someone who gets shit done.”

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18. “Being an entrepreneur means to be an artist of life. To be willing to take big risks, because of the deep belief in creating things that matter.”

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19. “Unwavering belief in yourself and enthusiasm for what you’re doing. Those traits naturally create a sense of ownership that you can’t buy anywhere — not even Jeff Bezos can sell it!”

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20. “Bringing your entrepreneurial vision to fruition takes a team of smart and experienced people. Find them, trust them and empower them to help you make decisions.”

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21. “You gotta succeed. If you’re not succeeding, you’re not recruiting anybody.”

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22. “An entrepreneur is someone who has the passion and courage to try something that’s never been done before.”

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23. “Entrepreneurship is about solving problems, not getting fixated on them.”

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24. “Being an entrepreneur is different than starting and quickly exiting a startup. I think entrepreneurs create long-term companies and jobs.”

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24. “When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to understand that no one is going to swoop in and save the day. You have to enjoy solving problems for your customers and for your business.”

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26. “To me, an entrepreneur is someone who has a goal of impacting other people by helping them solve a problem, and through that help, aims to grow and scale to help even more people.”

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27. “As an entrepreneurs, you have a fire burning inside your belly, a vision and a dream that you will do anything and everything in your power to bring to life.

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28. “Entrepreneurship is about the fight — the process of getting your product and service in the hands of consumers and building a company along the way.”

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29. “You have to do more than just your role. You have put on a lot of different hats and do a lot of different jobs that are outside of your daily tasks.”

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30. “I think the best entrepreneurs are able to create win-wins that lead to sustainable business growth and economics.”

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Dedicated to My Dad- I Love You and Miss You So Much!

“The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature. A father is neither an anchor to hold us back nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.”

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Title: In The Arms Of An Angel-Sarah McLachlan

Dedicated to My Dad- I Love You and Miss You So Much!

 

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance

For the break that will make it ok

There’s always some reason to feel not good enough

And it’s hard at the end of the day

I need some distraction oh beautiful release

Memories seep from my veins

They may be empty and weightless and maybe

I’ll find some peace tonight

 

In the arms of an Angel fly away from here

From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear

You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie

You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

 

So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn

There’s vultures and thieves at your back

The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies

That you make up for all that you lack

It don’t make no difference, escaping one last time

It’s easier to believe

In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness

That brings me to my knees

 

In the arms of an Angel far away from here

From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear

You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie

In the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

 

You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

 

 

 

A Song For Mama

A Song For Mama by Boyz 2 Men –

My family is everything. I am what I am thanks to my mother, my father, my brother, my sister… because they have given me everything. The education I have is thanks to them.

 

You taught me everything
Everything you’ve given me
I’ll always keep it inside
You’re the driving force in my life, yeah

There isn’t anything
Or anyone that I could be
And it just wouldn’t feel right
If I didn’t have you by my side

You were there for me to love and care for me
When skies were gray
Whenever I was down
You were always there to comfort me

And no one else can be
What you have been to me you will always be
You will always be the girl
In my life for all times

Mama, Mama you know I love you
(You know I love you)
Mama, Mama you’re the queen of my heart
Your love is like tears from the stars, yes it is
Mama I just want you to know lovin’ you is like food to my soul
Yes it is, yes it is, oh, yes it is, yes it is, yes it is oh

You’re always there for me
Have always been around for me even when I was bad
You showed me right from my wrong
Yes you did

And you took up for me
When everyone was downin’ me
You always did understand
You gave me strength to go on

There were so many times
Looking back when I was so afraid
And then you’d come to me and say to me
I can face anything

And no one else can do
What you have done for me
You’ll always be, you will always be
The girl in my life, ooh oh

Mama, Mama you know I love you
(You know I love you, you know I love you)
Mama, Mama you’re the queen of my heart, (You are)
Your love is like tears from the stars
(Your love is like tears from the stars)
Mama I just want you to know (Mama I just want you to know)
Lovin’ you is like food to my soul

Never gonna go a day without you
Fills me up just thinkin’ about you
I’ll never go a day without my mama

Mama, Mama you know I love you
Mama, Mama you’re the queen of my heart
Your love is like tears from the stars
(Your love is like tears from the stars)
Mama I just want you to know lovin’ you is like food to my soul

Lovin’ you is like food to my soul, oh yeah
You are the food to my soul, yes you are.

 

 

The 10 Best Places to Avoid Noise, Light, and Air Pollution

Looking to get away from it all? Science has proven that nature travel can improve almost every aspect of your wellbeing, from increasing your attention span to improving your mood. To get the most benefit, it’s worth seeking out places with minimal noise, artificial light, and air pollution.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. Quiet places are disappearing fast, even in protected areas; nighttime light pollution covers nearly 80 percent of the planet; and there are no places left that are entirely free of air pollution.

Go to These Places to Avoid Noise, Light, and Air Pollution

But there is hope; there are several well-organized resources for finding the darkest, quietest, and cleanest places left on Earth, including dark skies associations, noise experts, and the World Health Organization’s survey of air conditions worldwide. I combined them all to pick 10 of the best places to find clear skies, bright stars, fresh air, and the purest sounds of nature.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff was the first city named an International Dark Sky City by the International Dark Sky Association, and was in the top five for cleanest air in a recent State of the Air survey by the American Lung Association. This small city isn’t particularly quiet, but active civic measures to keep down noise pollution mean that it’s easy enough to find peace in the surrounding areas at places like Meteor Crater and Walnut Canyon.

Roisey, France

Roisey, located in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region of France, has been determined by the World Health Organization to have the cleanest air in the country. Thanks in part to its location in a national park as well as altitude over 4,200 feet in some places, skies are also often very clear. Add to that an official population of just 909 people, and you have a great choice for getting away from it all right in the middle of Europe.

Te Anau, New Zealand

 

Global testing by the World Health Organization has found Te Anau to have some of the cleanest air worldwide. Its location at the entrance to Fiordland National Park makes it a basecamp for hikers and “trampers” who can see night skies so clear that there’s a small cottage industry offering night sky tours in the area. The presence of helicopter touring companies means it might not always be the quietest spot, but if you are hiking into the fjords or along the Kepler or Milford Tracks, you can escape the noise as soon as the heliports shut down each evening.

The Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve in Mt. Cook National Park is another superb New Zealand option, free of most air pollution and attracting stargazers from around the world.

Campisabalos, Spain

Located about 100 miles north of Madrid, Campisabalos is another city that sits high on WHO’s list of the best air in the world. Dark sky maps put it solidly away from most light pollution; if you want even darker, travel a bit southeast to the Parque Natural de la Serrania to the west of Cuenca, which also includes the Enchanted City, a geological wonder created by natural erosion approximately 90 million years ago.

Mojave Desert, California

Trevor Cox, a professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford and author of a book on natural sound phenomena, recommends the Kelso Dune area in the Mojave Desert. Cox visited the spot specifically because there are interesting sounds—the dunes make a growling or bellowing sound when you move the sand around that gives them the name “singing sands”—but Cox notes that the area is extremely quiet.

“Kelso Dune in the Mojave Desert … has no flights and no cars, and actually no sound at times because there is very little wildlife,” he says. “It is a special place.”

The dunes are also located in a formidable area of dark skies, and the National Park Service’s “half the park is after dark” motto definitely applies here.

Lapland Region, Finland

Way up in the northern Lapland region of Finland, the municipality of Muonio topped WHO’s most recent clean air list. While you pull in the fresh air, you can take in some superb views of the northern lights; Finns often ski or snowshoe into the countryside to see the lights, but VisitFinland.com has put together a list of more comfortable options, including heated tents and glass igloos.

Muonio has the longest snow season in all of Finland, so if you don’t get clear skies right away, strap on some skis while you wait for a good night to see the lights.

San Pedro de Atacama Region, Chile

Clean air, high altitude, and the driest desert in the world combine to put the San Pedro de Atacama region at the top of the list of the darkest, clearest places on Earth. Don’t believe me? Check out this timelapse video. In addition to being free of light and air pollution, the desert environment also offers minimal sound from wildlife.

Grasslands National Park, Canada

Gordon Hempton, founder of One Square Inch of Silence, did an acoustic survey at Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National Park and found that it has “the quietest, purest sounds,” he said. And much of the park is nearly absent of light pollution, according to Dark Site Finder. You won’t find much air pollution here either; the air in Canada is some of the best in the world, according to WHO.

Canary Islands, Spain

Mountainous geography and a location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean make La Palma and Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands among the purest destinations on the planet. Teide National Park on Tenerife includes the highest peak in the Atlantic Ocean for peak baggers, not to mention stargazers.

Haleakala Summit, Hawaii

Hawaii has some of the most consistently clean air on Earth—even bustling Honolulu gets good marks from WHO—and the ability to get up above the clouds into thinner, cleaner air on top of Haleakala, in Maui, means there is even better stargazing here than at sea level. Visitors can stay overnight to see the stars and take in the sunrise, giving you the best of both worlds. The Mauna Kea observatory on the Big Island is another superb option, although staying overnight is not possible there.