The founder of The Huffington Post and CEO and founder of Thrive Global learned early the power of switching off – and the best spots to do it. As told to Di Webster.
1967: When I was 17, I went to study comparative religion at Visva-Bharati university, founded by the Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore at Santiniketan, outside Calcutta (now Kolkata). It was an amazing three months. I loved wearing the sari and learned to drink hot tea on the hottest days because they taught us that it was the way to keep cool. I travelled across India in third class, alone, living on bananas and fell completely in love with the country. Every time I've been back, I relive that first trip and each visit has been incredibly special. The last time I was there, my younger daughter, Isabella, and I went to Dharamsala to spend a week with the Dalai Lama and even though we were staying in this little hotel where you had to shower using a bucket and dogs barked through the night, there's something about India and the Indian spirit that always takes me back to that first time.
1996: Near a small village called Laerma on the island of Rhodes, there’s a vine-covered, 10th-century monastery called Tharri. When I went there, it was teeming with life and it had this amazing abbot called Adamantios Tsoukos. Though he was only in his late-50s, everybody called him Geronta, which means “old man” (in Greece, age is identified with wisdom). He and I would go on morning walks. He knew the name of every single flower and every plant and he made me love Greece all over again because there is no other country with those perfumes. He’d stop along the walk and pick up a sprig of thyme or rosemary, a twig from a pine tree and so many wildflowers that he knew on a first-name basis. We talked about his incredible faith in God. Every phrase would end with “thank God” and anything he said about the future, he would preface with “God willing”. He had this deep spirituality teamed with a reverence for nature. He's now the Greek archbishop of New Zealand.
2015: My children, ex-husband and I always vacation together (as my late friend, Nora Ephron, said, “Marriages come and go, but divorce is forever.”) I love Antiparos so much because it’s not crowded. You get there by taking a small boat from the larger island of Paros so it feels even more remote – an island off an island. It also has all the things that are special about Greek islands: little shops, lots of charm, whitewashed houses and, of course, great food. At the centre is an actual Venetian castle from the 15th century. That’s how beautiful it is – to imagine someone left Venice to set up camp there. If you get tired of the incredible light and sun, there’s a famous cave you can explore.
Arianna Huffington’s Thrive 1-Day Program will be held in Sydney on May 31, the Gold Coast on June 3 and Melbourne on June 6.