An experienced Summer…

Apologies for being absent from quite a while, but it has been a busy Summer, with plenty of travelling, plans for the future, methodical moments of deep thinking and getting ready for the winter months.

We truly had a fantastic Summer this year… the sunshine kept us company throughout the warmer months, and only that made much easier the search for a future destination.

We explored various places in Hertfordshire, North and South, the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds and to complete the list we had to go back to one of our favourite place: the Lake District.

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England, Cumbria, Lake District, Lake Ullswater, Glenridding, August 2018

Every time I spend time at The Lakes, something magical happens. Almost like an internal spiritual shift to another kind of dimension, where nothing else matter… but just you and the Natural surrounding. Being there it truly makes you wonder about the meaning of your entire existence. It is almost like if you come into contact with your deepest self, and you feel safe to BE the most authentic You.

No masks, no filters, no need to hide…  Nature has such a power to touch your deepest place. And if you are ready, you will gain the most magical experience you will ever have. You just have to be open to it, to receive its blessing, observing and listening in silence.

Be prepared to come in contact with your deepest fears, your doubts… but also to your most authentic hidden self, your pure and untouched essence. Walking in Nature is good for the Soul, for the Body and for the Mind in many ways… it will make you grow spiritually, experience after experience… It is a very methodical active way to observe, perceive, and fully opening your senses to the outer world, in order to understand and to discover more about your inner world.

The English countryside is very special, but the Lake District goes far beyond that… it is a truly magical place, the quintessential of the Englishness of things, Paradise on Earth.

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 England, Cumbria, Lake District, Grizedale Forest , August 2018

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a Forest Wilderness” – John Muir

The Fear of Change

During times of change and decisions making, it is absolutely normal to go through emotional turmoil and repeatedly asking yourself the same questions: ‘Am I doing the right thing? Is this what I really want?’… Being paranoid, having doubts, is all part of that package that makes us human, especially when we found ourselves in a position where we want to leave the present situation, for a future that is unknown; as you say, better the Devil you know (than the devil you don’t).

But if we get so attached to our life and routine, just because it makes us feel in control, we will eventually find ourselves living a life full of regrets. Now I am not saying that everyone should swap the city life for the country life in Nature (that’s my dream), but I am certainly saying that if you have a dream that is pulsating in your heart, making you smile and giving you a sense of freedom every time you think about it, you have to make it come true, in one way or another! You should find the courage to face change and uncertainty and take that risk… so that one day, even if things go wrong and not as you wished for, you can be satisfied that at least you tried.

The most difficult thing to do in these cases is to find the courage of letting go the things that makes us feel confortable and safe. We are creatures of habits, and get confortable in easy routines, and even if we get bored and frustrated by them, we’d rather complaining but not change the situation. How many time you hear people complaining about their job, but not doing much to find a new one.

Even more difficult is letting go things that make you happy in your present life, for a future life that is full of uncertainties and doubts. This is the problem I am facing in this period: I love my life in London, it’s a life that I have created with sacrifice, but at the same time I also know that I need a change, Nature and simple living are calling! And although you cannot ignore the call of Nature, the Change that goes with it means uncertainty, which means unknown, which means not having control. This is exciting but at he same time it is scary for our human mind, especially when you are nearly 40, and that recklessness that you had in your 20s is hardly there anymore. Finding a job in London is fairly easy, finding a source of income in the country is a bit more difficult, especially if you relocate in a place where you don’t know anyone, and you do have to start again, from scratch. But hopefully with my Meditation and Art skills, and my husband with his super DIY skills, we will be able to find something that will give us the possibility to support a simpler life in the country. We are definitely not looking for a fancy life style, we just want to enjoy life, in a simple way, in Nature.

So, a Buddhist and a eager Meditation practitioner and teacher, in periods of confusion I have the tendency to go through my introspective moments, thinking, analysing and questioning anything going through my heart, and through my mind. I have always been a great believer in the power of the connection with your surrounding, trusting that when your heart and mind are open in truthfulness towards one direction, the ambient around you starts to respond to that, giving you signals and guiding you towards the right path. We need to put effort into things in order to make them happen, but sometimes we also need to be able to let things be and follow an effortless path, almost like going with the flow and listening to your surrounding. When things are decided with your hearth, following the truth, the ambient is there to support you, to protect you. We are made of energy, and surrounded by energy. We just need to learn to listen to it.

So as I am facing a period of confusion, the ambient decided to remind me, as to wake me up, the beautiful concept of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. In some way Buddha really was the very first psychologist: he taught us how to empower our mental state, he taught us how to be more prepared to embrace the change and transformation that life throw at us, so that we are able to deal and ease the many emotional turmoil that sometimes come to visit us. We are so used to control our lives, to the point that we start to live a life following a routine that eventually will cause us depression and anxiety. We forget that in order to transform our lives, we need first to let go of our attachments, so that life can take its course, in a creative and innovative way.

Through the four Noble Truths we can really understand the importance of living in the present moment, where we will find the courage to start the journey into the unknown, and go with the flow of transformation. If you want to read more about the concept of letting go, and a very well written interpretation of the Four Noble Truths, I strongly recommend the book ‘Wise Mind, Open Mind’ by Ronald Alexander, always good to have in hand during difficult and confusing times.

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The first noble truth: In life, there is suffering, because of the impermanent nature of things.

Because we feel more secure when we have a sense of predictability, we develop a great capacity for denying a simple truth: that nothing stays the same. Then the unpredictability of life shows us that even if we do everything “right” and exercise every precaution, we can still face unexpected loss.

When this happens the shock can make it hard to regain your equanimity and exercise non-reactivity. Too often, rather than surrender to the inevitability of change and work creatively with it, people resort to the fear-based behavior of trying to take charge and force other people and situations to conform to their expectations. The first noble truth of Buddhism is a reminder not to slip into the avoidance behavior of denial. While it’s not wise to create gloomy thoughts about how matters might take a turn for the worse, consciously ignoring the reality that all situations transform sets you up for a great shock when that time comes.

The second noble truth: Suffering is due to attachments and expectations, to grasping and clinging.

Your inability to avoid change may make you angry, sad, and frustrated. It can be hard to let go of the false belief that the only way to achieve happiness again is to regain what’s been lost. Even when you know you can’t reverse the situation, you may agonize over this reality.

Clinging to what once was, avoiding the process of grief and acceptance, causes paralysis. Grasping for a future set of circumstances identical to the past holds you back from discovering what better roads lie ahead, outside of your sight. The desire to backtrack or reconstruct will likely result in your walking around in circles, lost in the dark woods, instead of peering around corners to find new paths.

The third noble truth: It’s possible to end suffering by giving up attachments (clinging) and expectations (grasping).

The shift in perspective that comes when we recognize that there’s no such thing as a permanent sense of happiness begins our healing from suffering. The next step is to accept that we must broaden our definition of what we need in order to be happy, giving up the habits of clinging and grasping, as well as the need to control external circumstances.

After emerging from the shock of a great loss, we’re even more despairing about the possibility of being joyful again. However, the third noble truth offers us the promise of a new way of living that’s as satisfying, if not more fulfilling, than the old. It beckons us to begin the process of transformation.

The fourth noble truth: The way to end suffering due to clinging and grasping is through balance and living in the present.

It’s important to balance a thirst for something better with an acceptance of what is, right now. Balance allows you to live in the present moment and trust that your acceptance will clear the mist of confusion and distractions, and show you the way to move forward into happiness again. Here’s the paradox of change: until you can accept what is, you cannot move into what might be.

When we cling to the past or what no longer serves us, we contract ourselves to the point where we’re unable to be nourished and invigorated by the present moment. We have to accept that what’s past has truly passed in order to open up to what the present moment offers us. In this opening we become nourished, refreshed and revitalized.”

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Like many philosophers have already stated, Change is the only certainty in life. Our approach and state of mind towards Change can definitely make a difference in how we welcome a new chapter in our lives.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts 

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Morning Glory…

This morning I got up very early… now that Summer is almost here, as soon as the birds start to sing their favourite songs, my dog Woody also starts to bark his favourite song: LET’S GO OUT, WAKE UP! So, with one eye still closed and the other barely opened you are there trying to find a good excuse to get up so early. This morning I had the good excuse. The sky was blue, the Sun was shining over Enfield, and as soon as I opened the window I felt that fresh enjoyable breeze and thought: Ok, Woody, you win, lets go out! 🙂

So, there we were at 7am, walking along and enjoying the fresh summer breeze, surrounded by ‘the green’. The park looked so vast… it was all for ourselves. To my surprise hardly anyone was there, and the very few people you met along the way, were ‘happy people’, welcoming your presence with a smile and a cheerful ‘Good Morning!’… while our dogs did exactly the same thing with their wagging tails.

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The smell of grass, still wet from the night time frost, the gentle fresh air caressing your skin while whispering into your ear to enjoy the present moment, the white patches of the Moon still visible ‘nel blue, dipinto di blue’. Everything was just perfect. Our senses really are an incredible tool to appreciate the moment to moment experience. And then you turn and take a look at your dog, and he is so happy to be there with you. Smelling, trotting, enjoying every single moment of it… Dogs truly are the best Meditation Teachers I have ever met. They are constantly present in the moment, with no thoughts, completely relying on their senses to get on with their lives and to get on with us human. This is probably why I love Dogs so much: they are incredible beings, teaching you to enjoy the Now, in happiness, with them.

I have never been a morning person… more of a night owl really… but this morning was magical and I really appreciated being there, with my best friend. And while we were heading back home, suddenly echoed into mind the Italian proverb that my husband constantly repeat to me when I complain about the too early morning routine: “Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca!”, which in english will probably be equal to say “The early bird catches the worm”. 🙂 But this morning I smiled and I was happy to hear it.

So, better to get used to this early morning routine, and get on with it… especially while we are aspiring to the country life style. I must admit though, there is nothing better than waking up and start your day surrounded by Nature, while enjoying your morning walk and appreciating to be part of this incredible world.

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The Power of Nature

Nature: such a simple word, but with such an immense meaning!

When we pronounce this word our imagination is invaded by photos that we keep in our emotional memory, photos of beautiful sceneries, forests, woodland, beaches… places where we have been and experienced a powerful emotional connection, or simply places where we would like to go to keep enriching our souls.

I grew up in a central region of Italy, and from a very young age I have always been very much in contact with Nature. I have very beautiful memories of my early childhood: I can almost see my self as a little girl, on my father’s shoulders, walking through the woods and keeping busy while establishing that first connection with the land. I used to spend hours digging the soil and being fascinated by all the insects and creatures living underground. One of my favourite hobby was to pick up worms from the soil with my little hands, and give them names as we were becoming friends, so that my dad could get on with his love for bird watching and fishing.

I feel extremely lucky to have had these type of experiences, and I really appreciate them right now, more than ever, as wonderful memories. Unfortunately due to the highs and lows of life, that don’t always go as you wish, the relationship with my father took his course to an end, but all of these ‘Wild Experiences’ shared with him, are something that I will always cherish and keep within my heart, because it truly made me appreciate that special connection that everyone should have with our Mother Nature. My father may have not understood many things in his life, but he surely understood how to make you feel free.

Nature has the power to make you regain that Spiritual Freedom that we tend to lose constantly in our contemporary life styles, as we tend to focus our attention too much on stressful, boring and meaningless events, completely forgetting about the beauty of the simple things, like a walk in the woods, or a stroll on the beach.

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United States – California, Muir Woods, October 2015

As a Meditation Teacher and Stress Management facilitator I always strongly recommend to spend time in Nature to people, especially if you live within the rhythm of a stressful busy city like London. Through Nature we can rebalance our internal energy, awaken our senses, and reconnect to our precious inner self. It is such a great place to stimulate our soul, our creative being, our inner child. In fact in Japanese medicine, for example, the ‘Forest Bathing’, better known as Shinrin-yoku, has become such an important part in preventative health care. It has been scientifically proven to have so many benefit to our health and immune system: reducing stress, improving moods, sleep, etc. (Here is the link of a very interesting webpage, if you want to know a bit more about Shinrin-yoku: http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html )

As I was introduced to the power of Nature quite early in life, by now I can surely consider my self a true ‘Nature addict’… I wouldn’t know how to live without trees and green spaces around me, they truly are a priority above everything! And the older I get, the more Nature I need. So, in total honesty, the decision to go and live in the country, surely came from my deeply engraved ‘Nature addiction’ :). The desire to be able to breathe in fresh air, as you are surrounded by the sound of the trees and their for ever changing dancing leaves, caressed by the wind… and as you look at the sky, there you are bewitched by the radiant stars… ❤

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United States – California, Muir Woods, October 2015

The Importance of Being Truthful to Ourselves

When taking an important decision in life, we go through a journey of self discovery and introspection, as we continuously question ourselves with what’s the best option for us.

The questioning could be conscious, but also hidden within our actions, our thoughts, our worries, our fears… If it is something that will completely change and revolutionise the course of our lives,  it is absolutely natural to go through a roller coaster of emotions… especially when you are thinking of abandoning  the ‘comfortable’ city  life, for a life style that you have just been imagining, for a life style that has always been nothing more than a dream :).

In this cases the most important thing is to be honest and open as much as we can with ourselves. The importance of being open and truthful, of being present without judgement, within ourselves and within the present moment, goes beyond what we could even imagine. We need to be brave to practice self compassion, to have a better relationship with our own and unique Essence, our deepest Self. We need to be courageous to admit when we are scared and confused, to become better beings and  therefore achieve personal growth.

We need to be able to recuperate that authentic and real Essence within us, going beyond egos, qualifications, social status and all the different masks that we have created throughout our lives, because when we truly ARE, all of these things won’t really matter anymore.

We need to be truthful to ourselves and be able to satisfy our inner space with simplicity, without forcing our surrounding, but just being and going with the flow, in honesty, with open heart. And in that precise moment we are able to BE, with no effort.

We can only enjoy the NOW and every little moment to its fullest, if we are willing to abandon that luggage of experience achieved in the past, while being open for the new one… because the experience of the present moment will be different, because WE will be different.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus Of Ephesus

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England – London, Enfield, March 2018

Art as Meditation

The practice of Meditation has always been a very big part of my life, in many forms. I have been practicing Meditation for almost 20 years, and teaching from 5. Many people consider this practice to be extremely difficult, so they give up even before to start. So when someone tells me that they find it too difficult and don’t like the idea of sitting in silence as they become to restless, I always suggest to make art.
Creating art or dedicating your mind, body and soul to the creation of something, which could be painting, dancing, sculpting, etc. gives access to a meditative state, where our state of mind completely change and find peace. That’s the reason why Art, Music and Dancing are used many time as Therapy.
Not just as a way to express freely our feelings and emotions, therefore to liberate ourselves, but also as a way to heal ourselves, to feel better. It can give us the strength and the courage to reconnect with our inner space, as we reach a new state of consciousness where our monkey mind find peace and for once can keep quite. 🙂
This is why, in addition to meditating, I spend a very big part of my life creating things… as a form of freedom of expression, but also as a form of Meditation. Art for me is a pure methodical moment of joy of being truthful to your deepest self, appreciating that special connection, that we tend to lose and neglect most of the time.

 

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Painting by Cristiana Canzanese, Contemplating Contemporary Times n.1, Mixed Media on Paper, 2015
If you are interested on my art work you can visit my art blog: