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6 Beautiful European Cities That You Should Visit

6 Beautiful European Cities That You Should Visit

Traveling can be a welcome break from the stress and boredom associated with falling into a rut in our everyday lives. We are always on the lookout for beautiful images to browse through and fantasize, but nothing beats actually making the leap and visiting some of the wonderful cities of the old continent. There is much you can learn from the experience, and these cities, rich with history and culture, have lots to offer in terms of education, personal growth, great food and fun activities.

1. Bruges, Belgium

Bruges

    While many people fall in love with the unique aesthetic of Venice, with its canals and gondolas, it is overrun by tourists and, frankly speaking, overrated. If you want a rustic, old-town experience, with cobbled streets, canals and lovely old architecture, then head on down to Belgium and visit Bruges. The entire city center is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    You’ll find Michelangelo’s Madonna with Child statue and a number of museums and breathtaking churches and cathedrals. Walking down the streets of Bruges really takes you back through history, to a slower and more relaxed time. It is a city where you can ‘stop to smell the roses’, and it’s a shame that it is often overlooked when talking about lovely European cities.

    2. Edinburgh, Scotland

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    Edinburgh

      Apart from being a city with a strong Old World feel to it, what with its big castles and charming landscape, there are still some quite interesting tidbits that a lot of people don’t know about Edinburgh, like the fact that Arthur’s Seat Hill is actually an inactive volcano. Besides the world-famous Edinburgh Castle, which was never successfully taken by force throughout its existence, there are five other castles in the surrounding area, as well as a myriad of churches and cathedrals.

      The Edinburgh Dungeon, the Royal Botanic Garden and the Mining Museum are particularly interesting sites worth visiting. You can even watch the ultimate strength challenge that are the Highland Games, and you can take part in different sports, from golf to sailing and kayaking.

      3. Florence, Italy

      Florence skyline at sunset, Italy. Campanile di San Marco

        One of the most beautiful cities in the world, full of culturally significant sites, sculptures, art, and some exceptional architecture. It was the place in which the Renaissance bloomed and spread out like wildfire. Where does one even start when describing this majestic city? Perhaps the fact that the entire city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in the 80s can help me paint the picture.

        Florence has been around since 80 BC and the various historical styles and influences are quite apparent, although the Renaissance style is the most widespread, with works of arts from such legendary names as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli.

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        The lovely Ponte Veccio (Old Bridge) is a must see, and The Duomo will leave you staring in amazement. This being Italy, you can also enjoy some great coffee, fine wine and tasty meals while you spend your days exploring the city.

        4. Prague, Czech Republic

        Prague

          An old and proud city, Prague boasts very lovely centuries-old architecture, but it combines it well with more contemporary and quite unique architectural and artistic feats, like the Dancing House or the Franz Kafka Monument. Of course, you can’t talk about Prague without mentioning the Astronomical Clock and Karl’s Bridge, which continue to impress thousands of tourists daily.

          The Prague Castle is particularly impressive, as it is the largest ancient castle in the world, dating back to 870 AD, and encompasses several cathedrals, palaces and gardens, spanning across nearly 70,000 square meters.

          The Old Town is worth visiting and revisiting throughout your stay in Prague, and if you get tired from the sightseeing you can enjoy interesting Czech cuisine and a wide variety of good beers.

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          5. Barcelona, Spain

          Barcelona

            The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona boasts an impressive number of UNESC World Heritage Sites – around 17 in total – with several lovely sandy beaches and some otherworldly architecture that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. If you only had one chance to visit Europe and wanted to see something spectacular, I would wholeheartedly advise a trip to Barcelona and a stroll through the Gothic Quarter, spending a good deal of time admiring the Sagrada Familia, and another leisurely stroll in Park Güell.

            Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world, and even though there can be a lot of tourists milling around, it doesn’t get too crowded. And there is just too much to see, from the aforementioned cultural sites, to the huge football stadium and Formula 1 race track, and of course the lovely beaches.

            6. Lisbon, Portugal

            Lisbon

              Another underrated European city that more people should visit, Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, and one of the earliest settlements on this location predating Celtic times, probably back to around 1200 BC. Since the city was at times under the rule of different people from Africa and the Middle East, there is a unique mix of Christian, Jewish and Muslim influences on the city’s architecture and culture.

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              The amazing Jeronimos Monastery and the Belem Tower are notable examples of the Manueline style that developed in Portugal during the 16th century. The climate is pleasant, with warm summers, and the city has some beautiful riverside gardens.

              It is a great place for finding out more about the Portuguese culture and history, and to have a great time doing it.

              It is important to do some traveling in your life to get a new perspective on different cultures, broaden your worldview, learn more about the world and yourself and mature as a person. If or when you get the chance to go to Europe, I highly recommend visiting some, if not all, of the cities mentioned in this list.

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              Ivan Dimitrijevic

              Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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              Last Updated on August 13, 2020

              12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

              12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

              As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

              1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

              I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

              Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

              Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

              2. What is the purpose of meditation?

              The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

              It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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              Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

              In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

              You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

              This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

              The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

              Less Physical, More Psychological

              Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

              This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

              The First Benefit of Meditation

              The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

              1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
              2. Relaxation of the body

              Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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              Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

              That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

              When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

              When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

              Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

              Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

              This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

              Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

              Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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              This benefit takes you to the second one.

              The Second Benefit of Meditation

              While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

              1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
              2. Observance
              3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
              4. Patience

              Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

              You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

              This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

              1. Energy

              Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

              2. Observance

              The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

              3. Peacefulness

              Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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              4. Patience

              The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

              The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

              Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

              Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

              The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

              • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
              • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
              • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
              • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
              • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
              • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

              These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

              Final Thoughts

              Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

              Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

              Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

              More on Meditation

              Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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