24 July, 2017

Develop or Deepen. Yoga in Costa Rica. Spiritual Tourism with William Abel

Our Base in Arenal
Join me in Costa Rica (January 15, 2018) and spend some time exploring the nature of this beautiful land, and also, the nature of your being. Yoga is about discovering your true nature, which is peace, and meditation is a method that is used to do it.

Daily Spiritual Practice

With a daily gentle yoga practice to help bring peace to the body and daily meditation practice to help bring peace to the mind, time in Costa Rica might be just what is needed to help reset a busy mind to a more peaceful way of being, with plenty of time to relax and enjoy time away from your daily routine.

For people who have never practiced yoga, or for those who prefer a gentle approach, this tour is a great way to learn more about yoga and meditation. Gentle yoga uses classic yoga poses to help build balance, strengthen and flexibility to the body, with modifications to help make the practice accessible to any level.

Develop or Deepen

Because meditation is an integral part of a yoga practice, time will be spent with different meditation techniques and instruction to help develop or deepen a practice. Even those who have difficulty with meditation can benefit from our time together in the peaceful setting of Costa Rica.
Surrounded by spectacular nature

A soak in Tabacon Hot Springs is terrific

A guided trip over the hanging bridges is part of our tour experience

Arenal Volcano

22 July, 2017

My Trip to New Zealand: Spiritual Tourism

Multi-colored thermal springs
Daily Spiritual Practice

While the flight to NZ is long, in winter there is only a two-hour time difference between California and NZ, so jet lag is minimal. A bigger shock is jumping from late fall to brilliant spring. On the flight we were introduced to NZ’s delicious passion-fruit flavored Sauvignon Blank. Each morning Dr. Edward Viljoen led us in a spiritual practice. These were typically connected with the day’s activities and deepened our appreciation.

History and Views

We started on the North Island in Auckland and Rotorua. A walk up Mt. Eden gave us a history and the opportunity to walk done into the grassy slopes of a volcano’s caldera. One highlight was a boat trip to Mt. Rangitoto with views of Auckland and a climb through native vegetation to the summit. Rotorua gave us the opportunities to walk through farmer’s markets, visit the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, see a Maori Cultural Performance, and dine at a Hangi.

At Home In Queenstown

Then we were on to the South Island, home of adventure sports – next time for us. Queenstown was our base and on our first day we hiked from Arrowtown up the mountains through waist-deep fragrant lupines. We took a ferry across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak, an operating sheep ranch and had a lovely dinner.


Perhaps the highlight of the tour was Milford Sound. The bus trip there stopped at breath taking sights of mountains mirrored in quiet streams, while watching flightless Kea parrots stroll the grounds. At the Sound we boarded a small cruise boat for an over-night stay near the entrance to the ocean. We kayaked around the Sound looking at penguins and fur seals. That night the gentle waves rocked us to sleep.

Returning to Queenstown we took a gondola up the mountains to the Skyline Restaurant for our farewell. We enjoyed the diversity of the group and as usual, made many new friends.

Dennis O., Verified Customer

Spirit Tour's next Spiritual Pilgrimage to Australia and New Zealand is this November 2017.  If you would like more information, click here.


19 July, 2017

Why I Enjoyed Peru So Much

Edward and Kevin Viljoen on Machu Picchu
This great testimonial from one of our travelers reminds me that we're going to Peru again in 2018!  If you would like to have more information about Spirit Tour's pilgrimage to Peru with Dr. Edward Viljoen, author of Ordinary Goodness, please visit us at Spirit.Tours.


Dear Dr Edward Viljoen,

It is with great pleasure that I write to thank you for helping make my trip with Spirit Tours to Peru this past summer both heart warming and memorable. As you may remember, I joined the Center for Spiritual Living, Palm Desert under the leadership of Dr Joe Hooper at a time when my life seemed to have been shrouded in darkness. My sister had passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer and my personal and professional relationships had suffered in the process.

When Dr Joe recommended that I join his group on this trip, at first, I was hesitant. Visions of sitting around a candle and chanting almost kept me from calling to book the travel. Had I sat in my ignorance, I would have missed the tremendous gift that was waiting for me in Peru. The effortless travel in the most idyllic settings of ancient cultures lended itself to a nurturing environment that helped me start the process of forgiveness and spiritual growth. I remember sitting in our group meditation practices, peeking through one eye at fellow travelers who I later got to befriend and share in their own spiritual journey, thinking I'm not alone in my pain. There were others from all walks of life who sought comfort and guidance in their times of need. Some had lost a husband, a father, a career. Some had a void that needed to be filled, a wound that needed healing or something that needed to be addressed and mended.
Ara and Dr. Joe in Peru

You, Dr Joe and the family at Spirit Tours made me feel at ease in sharing my challenges. The daily group spiritual growth practices helped set the stage for several life lessons that I was about to learn and that I keep with me to this day. Most of all, I remember the release and levity I felt when I realized that just like the giant granite stones that were perched on top of mountains at soaring altitudes, there are structures and circumstance in my life that are both unexplainable and unknowable; but also, that not knowing how or why things are, doesn't keep us from basking in its beauty and sharing in wonderment of how we are all connected.

So, to anybody who is hesitating in joining us in this shared spiritual journey, please consider my first experience in making your decision. If you want to take a spiritual vacation at a leisurely pace along people who seek a connection with beautiful places in the world, then, all you have to do is pack lightly and show up, the rest will be taken care of by Spirit Tours and the amazing practitioners that come along. I look forward to walking with you in your journey.

Yours Truly,

Ara Gabrielian



Silence as a Spiritual Practice: Australia and New Zealand, a Spiritual Pilgrimage



Experience the refreshing, pristine air, water and land of Australia and New Zealand and discover how silence can become a pathway to inner peace. On November 6, 2017, I'm headed down that way with a group of spiritual pilgrims on Spirit Tours "Spirit of Nature" retreat.  I'll be facilitating nearly daily practices (except when we are in transit) as a way of tuning in with the deep quiet that is already, always present in each person.


Using accessible daily contemplation practices, with a booklet to record insights from your silent time, we will explore our inner world, and then we'll venture out together to experience spectacular New Zealand and Australia.



Edward Viljoen
Author of The Power of Meditation and Ordinary Goodness 


"With its size slightly larger and population similar to the state of Oregon, there are vast areas of land untouched by human hands. The On the South Island of New Zealand the southerlies blow from the South Pole and purify the air. In Australia, we will explore the world famous city of Sydney and sit and walk Aboriginal people in the Blue Mountain Range. The atmosphere in this region of the southern hemisphere is like no other place in the world. By just experiencing the people, its culture and you will understand why Australian & New Zealanders rarely move away from their native land."





The general acceptance of the term meditation is contemplation or continuous thought. We mean to convey something more-the recognition of the [Power] within, the certainty of our Oneness with the Whole, the immediate availability of the Power and Wisdom resulting from this Oneness. Such communion with [Divinity] brings harmony into our lives and affairs; establishes the law of health and prosperity, and makes us a light to all who cross our pathway.

Ernest Holmes
The Science of Mind

18 July, 2017

Travelers are Amazed by the Magic of the Milford Sound: New Zealand and Australia - The Spirit of Nature

When I went on my overnight cruise in the south west of New Zealand's South Island, I wasn't expecting to be amazed.  Words couldn't prepare me for the majesty of this World Heritage site.   It's no wonder that it is a top travel destination, and that Rudyard Kipling called it a wonder of the world.  Getting there is an adventure too.  The bus took us through amazing country side, a photographer's paradise.

An overnight cruise on the Milford Sound is part of Spirit Tours upcoming trip to Australia & New Zealand, titled "The Spirit of Nature" for good reason.  The Blue Mountain Range is another big highlight of the tour, along with visit to the fascinating, and truly charming cities of Queenstown and Sydney.

For the adventurous, consider climbing Sydney's Harbor Bridge, one of the Australia's most
photographed sites.  It is, after all, the world's largest steel arch bridge, and you can climb it!  It's amazing, I've done it!

I'll be facilitating the tour, making sure we have regular spiritual practice so that our trip has the tone of being a pilgrimage on which we take time to observe what arises within is when we are still.  This daily practice (except for one day when we are in transit) allows the spirit of nature to be felt and appreciated more completely.  It's my highly of traveling with spiritual community: practicing together.

Would you like to know more about Spirit Tour's Australia and New Zealand tour?  Registration is now open to all.  You can join me, and Dr. Joe Hooper from Palm Desert Center for Spiritual Living on November 6 through November 17, 2017.  Visit spirit.tours and read more.  The price for double occupancy includes round trip airfare.  ($5689 good until July 31.)

Thereafter, land only price is $4189

Edward Viljoen
Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa
Author of Ordinary Goodness

From Spirit.Tours

Journey with Spirit Tours staff to Australia and New Zealand. This trip will explore the New South Wells, Australia, The Queenstown area and Milford Sound of the South Islands, New Zealand. Experience optional guided meditations, take nature hikes (Bush Walks), spend the night on Milford Sound, stay in Queenstown, visit local farmers markets, Be guided through the Blue Mountain Range by an Aboriginal cultural expert, journey through Sydney just to name a few. This itinerary was created by Spirit Tours staff, James Cramer and Timothy Omi who both lived there for a short time.

07 July, 2017

Spiritual Tourism: Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

Imagine enjoying daily spiritual practice and yoga in the magical nature of Costa Rica. Pristine beaches, vibrant jungles, soaking in hot springs, hiking across suspension bridges over the rain forest, are all part of this yoga retreat with yoga teacher, William Abel.

William has taught yoga retreats for Spirit Tours in Bali, Mexico, South Africa, and Costa Rica. He is certified by the Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco and New York to teach Gentle Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Meditation and Raja Yoga.

Destination Highlights include
  • Pacific Ocean beach
  • Guide services by local Costa Rican naturalist
  • Daily meditation
  • Daily yoga
  • Daily breakfast
  • 3 days at the boutique Playa Hermosa beach hotel
  • 4 nights at the Arental Volcano rainforest hotel
  • Soaking in Tabacon Hot Springs
  • Sky Tram and Zip Line above the rain forest
  • Hiking the Hanging Bridges
This Costa Rica Yoga Retreat, also known as The Spirit of Nature, is from January 15, 2018, through January 23, 2018, and is facilitated by Spirit Tours.

For more information about the daily itinerary.





10 June, 2016

You Only Live One Life

To me travel is the best education one can receive. I pride myself on living my life without regrets. This is why in 2012 I quite my job in San Diego, sold my car, moved out of my apartment and bought a one way plane ticket to Taiwan. I needed a drastic change in my life and I knew this could possibly be it.

After six weeks of winding through narrow streets, trying to find my way to one teaching interview after another I landed a job as a preschool teacher. Keep in mind that at this point in my life I had only taught at the college level. Now I was teaching three year olds who up until coming into my class only spoke Chinese. Talk about "culture shock" for myself as well as the little children I was teaching. For the first six months I wanted to quit every day. Everything was so different than what I was used to. I held on in hopes that it would get better.

Outside of teaching I was having a fantastic time, meeting new friends, exploring the Island and living the Expat life. I knew that if I could just become comfortable with my job that I would be accomplishing something huge.

Just like anything in life if you stick with it, teaching these young children became easier. Going to work every day was more enjoyable and I actually felt good about the impact I was making on their lives.

I ended up living in Taiwan for 18 months, it absolutely changed my life forever. I was able to travel al over Asia taking trips to Vietnam, Philippines, Bali and Thailand. My passion for travel
grew exponentially during this time.

After my teaching contract was over I moved back home, not knowing what the next step would be. I was just as scared to go home as I was to leave, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I moved back in with my dad at the age of 35. The one thing that I was for sure of was that I did not want to work for corporate America anymore and that traveling had to be a part of my life. During those first six moths of being home I almost moved back to Taiwan on several occasion. You see I had something they call "reverse cultural shock". I was lost and not sure of anything. Slowly I started doing admin for my dads company "Sprit Tours". Eventually I was able to try my talents out leading tours. After two tours in Bali and one in Costa Rica my Dad and Brother said that I was "indispensable". The rest is history.

I know that if I hadn't taken the leap to move to Taiwan, I would never have had the chance to work for the family business. I absolutely love what I do and I am so grateful for all of my experiences. You only live one life, take chances, be happy and have a positive outlook. All of these things will lead you to your destiny.


Popular Posts