Many people head for the wild, the calm, the quiet to find their center, to balance, and to connect to the source. There is, however, a certain beauty in the challenge of finding your balance in a chaotic city like Istanbul. The bigger the challenge, the better the return, right? If you agree, take a look at our list of spiritual things to do in Istanbul to feel the divine truth in your heart while battling Istanbul’s infamous Friday afternoon traffic.
1. Meditate with candles, essential oils, and incense: Meditation is undoubtedly one of the best methods to relax, to find balance, and to de-stress. Before, during, or after meditation, use the power of aromatherapy. We suggest you buy scented or unscented candles from Jo Malone. Simple Life’s Japanese incents smell fantastic and are ideal for those who often get headaches from regular incents. Essential oils, like lavender, bergamot, and sandalwood, can be found at Zencefil Aktar stores around the city.
2. Do some yoga therapy: Practicing yoga is one thing, practicing yoga therapy is another thing. More often than not, yoga is practiced in groups (at yoga centers or gyms) where the instructor can’t, for practical reasons, dedicate their energies on one individual or organize the class on individual needs. Yoga therapy is a lot more custom-made, geared toward an individual’s needs. Diana Jaramillo is one prominent yoga therapist based in Istanbul who offers private yoga therapy sessions, which are held in customers’ apartments to maximize the safe space that Diana creates. Each session is between 60-90 minutes, and is made up of yoga, breathing, and meditation. The sessions are guided by the customer, as they are based on their needs. The yoga therapy sessions are sought after by those who want to transform their lives, not necessarily change themselves, but resolve deep-seated issues by embodying the situation and feeling it in the body. It is a deep work on issues and is strongly suggested for those who want to enhance their lives. Diana’s sessions can be held in English, Spanish, and Turkish, and she can be contacted at 0544 607 26 08 or through her facebook page.
3. Visit old churches and mosques: Visiting old churches and mosques is not necessarily a religious act but a spiritual one. Touching worn-out walls, sitting on crooked chairs communicates, on some level, the spirits of all those who have been there before us. With such a rich history, Istanbul offers many historic churches and mosques. Just choose the one that speaks to you, visit it, and see what happens. In our Sightseeing Listings, you’ll find a list of mosques, Armenian Churches, Catholic Churches, Orthodox Churches, Protestant Churches, Russian Orthodox Churches.
4. Carry prayer beads: Although widely used by many Turkish men to beat boredom, tesbih (Turkish prayer beads) are traditionally used for prayer. Similar practices are found in various other religions, including Buddhism and Christianity. Besides their religious purposes, prayer beads can also be used for stress relief and during different forms of meditation. You can find an incredible selection of tesbih made from a range of semi-precious materials at Tesbihçi Cemil ve Kadir Karateke.
5. Buy jewelry: We’re not really talking about retail therapy but about the healing energies of semi-precious stones. At Tohum, you’ll find a range of unique and powerful stones, such as Kyanite and Agate from Brazil, Prehnite from Namibia, Mookaite from Australia, and Larimar from the Dominican Republic. All these stones have exceptional healing properties. For example, Larimar illuminates an individual's spiritual path, bringing feelings of empowerment and precision of purpose. It also works to dissolve self-imposed restrictions as well as physical and mental blockages. Kyanite, on the other hand, can help spiritual energy to manifest in thought. It also facilitates dream recall, promotes healing dreams, encourages self- expression and communication, and assists in detaching from the idea of blind fate or implacable karma. To see all Tohum designs, check out their website here. To contact Verda Alaton, the designer behind the Tohum brand, email [email protected]
6. Listen to music: Even if we may forget it sometimes, we know that all we have is this moment, the present. And it may not always be easy to stay in that moment and enjoy it, but there are ways of staying in the now. Listening to music is one such way. One musician that we strongly suggest is the internationally-recognized Mercan Dede, a Turkish composer, ney and bendir player, DJ, and producer who is also known as Arkın Allen. He has several different projects going on at the same time, such as DJ Arkın Allen Tribal Duo and Istanbul Quartet, but he’s best known for his fusion of electronic sounds and traditional Turkish tunes. Of his previous albums, Seyahatname, Su, and Nar are the most famous ones.
7. Swim with dolphins: Hug and kiss a dolphin, let it swirl around you and generate lots of energy, dance and sing with them for a therapeutic session. Although not medically proven, many argue that swimming with dolphins is healing at best and a positive experience at worst. If you want to swim with dolphins in Istanbul, you can do so at the Istanbul Dolphinarium.