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30 Stunning Photos From National Geographic’s Traveler Photo Contest 2014

30 Stunning Photos From National Geographic’s Traveler Photo Contest 2014

The 2014 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, the 26th edition of the competition, closed this week on June 30th. Photographers submit their photos taken in any film medium so long as they submit a digital file to the actual contest, and awards are given based on skill and creativity by a panel of photographic experts. Looking at these photographs gives us a sense of how vast our world is, how diverse its climates, and a remarkable sense of global community. The skill of the photographers is extraordinary, especially in those who have the ability to make those settings familiar to us seem otherworldly.

Below are several of the winning photographs for this year’s contest. Where would you like to visit most?

Iceberg in Antarctica

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    (Translated) “Aboard the Polar ship Brazilian Ary Rangel, on the way to Antarctica, the Iceberg is seen floating.” by Igo Bione

    Rome, Italy

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      “Instead of letting the menacing weather outlook cast a shadow on my short stay in Rome, I chose to embrace the moment.” by Bao-loc-yvan Tran

      Masai Mara, Kenya

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        “We found about 20 lions eating a buffalo. When the male [left] the group we anticipated him to take photos… The lion stops and looks down from the hill, another lion is coming up… The two meet, looking directly into their eyes, they sniff, rub against their heads, the tension drops, they start walking with the same step as when they were puppies, they are two brothers.” by Massimo Mei

        New South Wales, Australia

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          “I had the privilege of being asked to help out a small local Campdraft, by taking photographs to be used for post-event promotions in the local newspapers, industry magazines & for social media. I love having the opportunity to shoot something new and this two day event watching the amazing athleticism and skills of both horse and rider at the Baryulgil Campdraft, rates as one the best, especially when that late afternoon sun hit the low angles and lit up the dust magically!” by Katrina Wade

          Champagne-Ardennes, France

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            “…I had been on a stormchasing photo tour through France, Belgium and Germany while these countries were experiencing severe storms for several days in a row. In this nighttime image you can see nearly all optical features of a supercell under a clear starry sky thanks to very frequent intracloud lightning and moonlight.” by Maximilian Conrad

            North Cascade National Park, Washington, USA

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              “This picture was taken in the North Cascade National park, WA during a 4 day backcountry skiing tour. We linked multiple peaks and valleys, alone and free in the mountains, creating and cherishing our tracks up and down.” by Victor Mesny

              Bretagne, France

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                “2014, Saint Malo France” by Erwin van den Arend

                Churchill area, Manitoba, Canada

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                  “A four months old polar bear cub running after his sister.” by Meril Darees

                  Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh

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                    “Rubel (10) is a son of a fisherman. While his father goes fishing he awaits his return. Children accompany their fathers and learn their skills for the future. Many fishermen live along the beach beside the road between Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf. Fishing from sunrise to sunset they can barely earn around 60 Taka a day (less than a dollar).” by Gmb Akash

                    Te Waihou Walkway, Putaruru, New Zealand

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                      “People have long been drawn to Te Waihou. The river was an important thoroughfare and provided food and flax for local people and visitors alike. The reason for the blue colour (and visual clarity) of Te Waihou is the high optical purity of the water. Pure water is intrinsically blue in hue because it absorbs red light leaving only blue and (some) green light to be transmitted to the observer’s eye.” by Abby Lovis

                      Cape Cod, MA, USA

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                        “I had never seen a humpback whale breach before. On a recent trip to Cape Cod with some friends we took a small boat out to whale watch. We saw several humpbacks doing their thing with the flippers and the tail, but none breached. Then out of the blue this one whale breached pretty close to the boat… It’s amazing how these huge animals propel themselves out of the ocean and get so much air. Watching them up close gives me a whole new appreciation for these wonderful creatures.” by Raj Das

                        Charles River, Massachusetts, USA

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                          “A rower takes a sunrise sally on the Charles River, the waterway that slices through Boston, separating it from Cambridge. The early morning is a popular time for rowing, sculling, kayaking, and other activities.” by Bimal Nepal

                          Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Africa‬‏

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                            “It was a late afternoon, we saw two leopards fighting on a tree top. After a short clashing one of the leopards gave up and jump down.” by Yoel Schlaen

                            Tham Lod Cave, Thailand

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                              “One of the most spectacular natural caves I’ve ever adventured into, Tham Lod is a piece Mother Nature’s masterpieces in the Mae Hong Son region of Northern Thailand. The Lod is a natural limestone cave system, its main feature is the freshwater stream which runs through the middle of the cave for about 200-300 meters.” by Drew Hopper

                              Bimini, Bahamas

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                                “I was waiting at the surface as pretty much all these dolphins were feeding on the bottom. I kept trying to free dive down and get a photo, when I got to the bottom, I had to go back up. This moment was magical as they all came up at once, it was overwhelmingly beautiful.” by Nadia Aly

                                Beijing, China

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                                  “Picture taken in May 2014 on a NGE Photo Expedition. It was a fantastic day: clear sky, no tourists and a full moon!! We were totally blessed.” by Jose Balta

                                  Cao Bang Province, Vietnam

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                                    “This is the most beautiful waterfall in Northern Vietnamese province of Cao Bang. It is located in the border of Vietnam and China. Haft waterfall on the left photo is of Vietnam, the other side is of China.” by Son Tong Tran

                                    Lake Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand

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                                      “[The tree] put on quite a display for us one evening as the fog hung over the lake just before sunset. The rolling hills and snow covering providing a perfect backdrop for the frequent resting place of the birds from the area.” by Paul Reiffer

                                      Sondrio, Lombardy, Italy

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                                        “Walking on a snow day.” by Pisati Beniamino

                                        Kasaragod, India

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                                          “Preparation for the Theyyam performance in the surroundings of Kasaragod city. Theyyam is a popular ritual dance form of North Kerala, particularly in Kannur and Kasargod districts. The Theyyam represents a mythological, divine or heroic character. Make up of Theyyams is done by specialist. There are different types of face painting for which primarily and secondary colours are used. Therefore it is essential that the makeup man should have perfect knowledge of primary and secondary colour combinations. Sometimes, it takes several hours to paint each face.” by Rafal Ziejewski

                                          Bagan, Maynmar

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                                            “A novice monk reads a buddhist text in an old temple in Began. The light reflected perfectly off the pages of his book and the incense smoke was captured by the beaming light.” by Neil Herbert

                                            Luang Prabang, Laos

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                                              “A Khamu woman walking along a road in Nong Khiau, Laos.” by Paul Wager

                                              Hummingbird in Aruba

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                                                “Blue-Taled Hummingbird lands on the Hibiscus flower.” by Damilice Mansur

                                                National Stadium in Singapore

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                                                  “A group of workers seen on the roof of the new National Stadium of Singapore.” by Tong Leng Liew

                                                  Big Sur, California, USA

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                                                    “This shot is taken by the full moon light. The moon light is coming through a key hole. Only couple of times through the year can capture this.” by Kenji Yamamaura

                                                    Venice, Italy

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                                                      “Venice by morning.” by Vlad Da Cunha

                                                      Istanbul, Turkey

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                                                        “Fisherman smokes from Galata Bridge at sunset.” by Pisati Beniamino

                                                        Featured photo credit: Sunset with a chance of lightning & thunder/Yvan Tran via travel.nationalgeographic.com

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                                                        Last Updated on July 3, 2020

                                                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                                        Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

                                                        Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

                                                        I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

                                                        You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                                        Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

                                                        When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                                        I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                                        Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                                        Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

                                                        If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                                        Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

                                                        1. The Inner Critic

                                                        This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                                                        • Other people’s words—many times your parents
                                                        • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
                                                        • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
                                                        • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                                        The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

                                                        Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                                        2. The Worrier

                                                        This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

                                                        The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                                        3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

                                                        This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                                        This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                                        The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

                                                        4. The Sleep Depriver

                                                        This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                                        The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                                                        • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                                        • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                                        • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
                                                        • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                                        How can you control these squatters?

                                                        How to Master Your Mind

                                                        You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                                        Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                                        There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                                        • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                                        • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                                        This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

                                                        The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

                                                        Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                                        1. For the Inner Critic

                                                        When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                                        You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                                        For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                                        You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

                                                        “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                                        If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

                                                        This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                                        • They rile up the Worrier.
                                                        • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                                        • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                                        • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                                        • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                                                        Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                                        Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                                        2. For the Worrier

                                                        Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                                        Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

                                                        You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                                        • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                        • Muscles tense

                                                        Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                                        If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                                        Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                                        “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                                        Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                                        If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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                                                        Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

                                                        Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                                        For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                                        “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

                                                        Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                                        Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                                        “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                                        Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                                        3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                                        Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                                        The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

                                                        I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                                        Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                                        Breathe in through your nose:

                                                        • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                                        • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                                        • Focus on your belly rising.

                                                        Breathe out through your nose:

                                                        • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                                        • Focus on your belly falling.
                                                        • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                                        Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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                                                        One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                                        Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                                        4. For the Sleep Depriver

                                                        (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                                        I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                                        Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                                        1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                                        2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                                        When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

                                                        From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                                        For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                                        If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                                        You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                                        • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
                                                        • Shut down your thinking
                                                        • Calm your feelings
                                                        • Simply focus on the present moment

                                                        The Bottom Line

                                                        Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

                                                        You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                                        Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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                                                        Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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