The First Step is The Challenge – Discovering Vipassana

Sun is shining and while the thermometer shows 28 degrees (again – always!:)) I am sipping from my coffee and scrolling on my facebook page. In so doing I saw a quote from two years ago –  ‘Although the road is never ending, take a step and keep walking, do not look fearfully into the distance. on this path let the heart be your guide for your body is hesitant and full of fear.’ I immediately made the connection – I wrote it just before I went on to do the Vipassana retreat in Dehradun, India – the first time that I have been in a retreat and of course, the moment when I experienced this technique of meditation for the first time. And what a discovery it was. Two years ago I have found something more precious than any treasure – I have found myself, I have found peace within, I have found the way to go back there, to that place I long forgotten and the encounter was so, so dear to me.

Today I celebrate once more the opportunity I was given and I am so deeply grateful for it. I first read about a silence retreat in (be ready to be surprised) ‘Eat Pray Love’ – well for me being in silence for so long was such a blissful opportunity- then there was a friend from England that when he heard I will go to India he recommended to do a Vipassana retreat as well as an Introduction to  Buddhist Philosophy (they do not connect and the Vipassana technique is not practiced in the other). That was all I knew – I took note of it it is true but I was actually focused on a project with a so thought to be a friend that failed graciously and beside a good amount of money, I have lost a friend and with that my confidence in people was a bit shaken. I have found myself all alone, with no plans and kind of apathetic – then the idea of the retreat came to my mind. I was actually at that point – with the turn of events – that I was seeking a refuge. I needed some time to regain that trust, the values and the trust that I have lost. I also wanted to get a grip of what did just happen and where did I go wrong.

So I went – with my heart open and there was no moment when I wanted to leave or give up. I came out of it not completely changed – but for sure, something in me changed and I knew that nothing will be the same again. And I am not saying this for the sake of the beautiful, comforting words, but because I have understood that my life was under control now, that I have the tool to deal with it. There was a line or two from the movie that still resonate in my mind – ‘You will get your life back again – you will learn to value it!’ like a prophecy that came true. Because yes – once I was done, I was so joyous and extraordinarily THERE – to enjoy every moment, to stop seeking the future but to be in the moment, that it felt like the time moved slower. I was present and I was happy to enjoy every little small thing like a tuk tuk drive or a piece of freshly made paratha.

I even remember that when I arrived in Rishikesh, I was shocked to see the streets packed with announcements with different healing methods, courses, trainings when I came out of a place where my only distractions were sleeping, eating, meditating, walking and washing. At that time it seemed like a cry of despair. It felt like we have really lost touch with ourselves and keep on looking – as we have been for ages – to the outside in order to fix the inside. Well – the equanimity came in and help me with that too! I understood then again that finding your own truth will not dismiss someone else’s and although I was so happy and joyful to share it with everyone, not everyone was ready to listen – not everyone was ready to accept or to put it into practice. OR better said – not everyone had a butt to sit on and spend some time with him/herself.

Conclusion is – that in the end, we all walk our own path, carry our own burdens, and while we can always make our own choices there is still something we should all learn and practice – to be open. To learn from the richest as well as from the poorest, to listen and to give up to the judgements and preconceptions. To accept that we are not the same. To be more compassionate as we don’t know what hides behind this well carved mask called body. To do things differently because this will expand our mind.

Each has its own way indeed and while ones will take longer, others a little less, we should all reach there.

Wish you a LOVEly day!

A New Place to Call Home

After a well-deserved summer at home and of course, well-deserved vacation for that matter, I had to start moving in some direction or other. It is quite difficult once you’ve got the travel bug, you know? Even if I definitely did not get bored, I have been stalking friends that travel and wondered constantly where to go next. Then the answer came – and as they say, all roads go to Rome – for me they have actually gone to Genova – as this is my new home now.

So here I am, drinking my expresso (the third one today – I simply cannot refrain- the place is packed with small cafes) enjoying the breeze and the seagulls, the sound of the many scooters rumbling around, admiring the majestic architecture of the many palaces that stand as a proof of a legendary past.

The duration of my visit this time will be slightly longer – I could actually say that it is the most time that I have spent in a place – at a time. This is actually something that excites and scares me at the same time – as I am sure I will find my way out of it every now and then (heheh).

However, I must say that my motivation is high due to the reason why I am here – an European project with an local NGO that supports and works at building a sustainable inclusion and cohesion of migrants and minors in the society. Will basically work with children, adolescents and migrants – by doing workshops as well as cultural events for a better communication, integration and promoting activities for civic integration.

Besides the fact that it is famous for its focaccia and pesto, for its long stretches of coast, forests and picturesque cities, Liguria is a region that has something more particular than that. Genoa, after all, is a multicultural city on the move since for the past twenty five years has been receiving waves of migrants from places like Ecuador, Senegal, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Peru and China. This passage has not been a novelty as Genoa was and still remains one of the most important ports of Italy.

The situation is a bit distressing – the refugee and migrant mobility gets intensified along with an accelerated crisis of the European identity and borders as well as an increasing nationalist attitude. Here the situation seems more pervasive as Italy has become the central route into Europe for migrants and asylum seekers as they cross from North Africa. I will be able to have a better picture of the situation in the following months and get more immersed in the question.