Journey as a metaphor for my life
Life is a journey. I do not mean it just symbolically ... I actually traveled a lot, since I was a little girl. I have lived and studied a lot abroad. I didn't travel thanks to my own merit, but thanks to my good luck. Good karma, maybe, that opened my mind with so many experiences in different cultures.
My first trip lasted three months, I was twelve years old and I went to Australia as a guest in a family and to attend school in Perth. I have beautiful memories of the family who hosted me and their Australian accent, of the red earth trampled by kangaroos, of koala I used to see on the trees and parrots that were flying around. The difference was great, from the Cortina Dolomites where I was living at that time, to the Australian bush without even realizing it, spontaneously.
I got used to strange foods, different faces, lifestyles diametrically opposed to mine. After this trip, nothing could surprise me anymore.
Travelling at a young age
Only when you grow old you understand what "traveling when you are young" really means. You discover worlds and dimensions that later on you realize being already yours, because synapses were already connected. The father of my host family in Australia was very psychic. When the phone or the doorbell was ringing , he already knew who he was. He was ironic, he would not take this seriously, he would live with it normally. And he would let everybody else live with it normally. Without even knowing me he used to tell me stories about my life and my family. So, growing up, I thought it was normal and I often meet psychics, listen to their stories and also have my little premonitions. Perhaps this is where my passion for the energy and mystery comes from, definitely fueled by my "Scorpionic" side.
At the age of fourteen I lived the colorful and fragrant experience of South America. Two months in Mexico City, always as a guest in a family and at school. What I remember about this trip are people, the joy of a half Indian and half European family , with six children and a Volkswagen truck to travel together, away from the crowds of the city, among lush flowers and succulents. Of course, almost thirty years ago, South America was a quaint and charming world, offering at the same time hard and rough sides.
It was essential to know how to live in order to survive. I found out through my own experiences the complexity and delicacy of relationships, and by the time I came back home I was more mature and aware. Mexico and clouds, Mexico and fragrances, Mexico and flavors, Mexico and memories.
There I got used to travel not as a tourist, but as a person who observes the world from the inside, not so much to discover the diversity but with the feeling that places and situations in front of me were tying and untying along the wires of Karma.
At the age of sixteen I had the opportunity to attend a full academic year abroad. I chose a distant place, different, where no other Italian student ever went before. My passion for the East was already concrete and stronger than any convention. With a big suitcase containing the clothes for four seasons, I flew to Osaka. Or rather, to another planet. Japan at the time, 1983, was not the Japan of today. I went to a school just for girls, with a blue uniform with short white socks, I spoke only Japanese language, following rules and absolute rigor, both at home and at school.
A year of intense, difficult but happy study and analysis, moments of purity and Zen essence.I remember with nostalgia the Japanese tradition of mixing the ultra modern to the traditional and old. Especially in the kitchen, where in the beginning I could not access, being a western person and therefore "impure". In my hosting family the grandmother dominated above all the others; when she was young she was one of the first women to teach at the university. The subject? Domestic arts, all the necessary knowledge to the quiet and respectful traditional Japanese wives. However, she used to command and I witnessed some nice feminist situations at home.
At the age of eighteen, after high school graduation and a summer trip to Paris, I made a trip to India. The feeling that accompanied the first and the following numerous trips to India, was the feeling of being at home. I got rid of everything: unnecessary thoughts, stirred emotions, clothes and shoes in this land where you can simply live with a cotton sari and a pair of flip-flops. India was my revelation: I got to know the sense of things, fathom all the crevices of my being to eliminate the superfluous and get to the heart of myself. I'll be back again and again, I will never get tired of this place.
The blessing of the god
When I was in India, I used to phone home in Italy once a month. It was very complicated, you had to book the call and you never knew at what time you could have the line and what was the time in Italy by then €“ it could be three in the morning. Each event was an adventure. And while everything out there was disorganized, meditation inside me was going smooth, with no obstaces . To the point that one day, over the phone, I announced to my father that I would never go back to Italy. He did not react badly. I thought it was the grace of the gods of the crowded Hindu pantheon watching over me - but no, in Italy it was three in the morning and he did not understand a word of what I said.
The strongest emotions, in front of the living masters of Indian spirituality
I wanted to meet several of them, be with them, breathe the same air, let them lay their eyes on me. Each of them has given me a special gesture, a personal word, a hint of complicity, a special gift. In fact in one of my recent trips I had left with the intention of never coming back to the West. I was ready to do it. But then I realized that I had to go back, with the responsibility of living the spiritual awareness without exaltation, in the flow of everyday life. Here I am, many years later.
During the university years in Venice, or rather while I was studying Oriental Languages at Ca 'Foscari, I used to have a lot of bright ideas. I was keen on creating cultural synthesis and bridges between different approaches not only on the subjects I was studying , but also on different methods of study. So to the ancient Japanese literature I applied a type of literary analysis that had never been used before in this field. I published a few articles on academic journals and as a result the Professor Tzvetana Kristeva invited me for a few months to do research at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria.
Needless to say ... my luggage was soon ready. At the time the Berlin Wall was still standing and its influence was felt. Eastern Europe was Eastern Europe, a world completely different from ours. Once again I was able to discover in people alternative ways to be happy. No luxury, no variety of food, no vices. With a great desire to learn and apply knowledge to life. With so much desire to share the little they had, in serenity and simplicity.
Yes, I have experienced the "Africa blues" for a period. I was twenty years old and that was my only trip as a "tourist" even though I've never felt like a tourist. Suddenly I felt that I was perfectly connected to the environment and we were just one thing, together with the age of the world and the wisdom of nature. Maybe it was that smell of bush that contains the seeds of all species and all races of the world. Or the sense of infinity in time and space that surrounds you, especially during sunset and sunrise.
Or a sense of inevitability in front of the roaring of a lion, because you do not know what will happen after he fiercely looks at you, with that twinkle in his eyes. And the people... The ancient gestures, rituals, yet not organized, loads of practical and magic knowledge ,and the dignity of the daily concentration in the fight to get to the sunset after a new dawn has blessed you.
I got my PhD at the age of 23 with maximum grade and, little later, I won a Research Doctorate at the Orientale University in Naples. I sill remember the day of the exam. A friend from the Valdese Church found me an accomodation with some friends of his, at Ponticelli, near Naples. You know, at times like those you'd travel and accommodate for the cheapest, most likely at some friend's friends' place. I arrived late at night, it was dark already; I remember studying the whole night in a small cold room, hearing strange distant noises outside.
Only the next morning I discovered the truth: the place was a Social Center for young criminals and with drug problems. During the whole exam, my only thought was to finish it quick and catch the train back to Venice... and I made it! Some time later, I was still wondering about that night, I received the news: I passed the exam, with the highest grade!
During my University years, the EU started the Erasmus program - periods of study abroad for the studens. I was among the first candidates selected. So there I was, at Cambridge University, to further develop my Doctorate Thesis “Modern Literature Critic applied to ancient Japanese Literature” with professor Mark Morris. One of the thing I remember the most is the feeling of freedom of being a student, wich only gets bigger when you study abroad.
I used to interact with the brightest academic intellighentia, wich made me feel constantly stupified: not only the trated me as one of their own, but as a real source of knowledge. I still have the letters of greetings they sen back to my italian University, thanking for the intellectual resources I brought.
Back to India. I was flying to Tokyo, to attend University and become a teacher of ancient Japanese literature - my area of specialization. At one point I diverted myself and landed in India. My Indian season lasted long. I took advantage of this opportunity to continue studying, and this time studying Indian philosophy, Ayurveda, Ayurvedic massage, Yoga therapy and the original Indian texts.
I was not wandering in India like a hippy like many Westerners I met were during that time. I studied and studied, attended universities, study centers, spiritual centers. The Indians welcomed me and treated me like one of them, especially the teachers and the elderly. To live with them has been a wonderful way to learn, made me feel strong and very centred.
In the end I returned to my western world. I realized that in life you can't always receive but you also need to give. After a little bit of Italy, I flew to Canada to study Naturopathy and its disciplines with Professor Nissen, whom I had met in India. He introduced me to the natural care of the person, the concepts of Natural Health, the most effective practices and health benefits such as colon hydrotherapy, the eumethabolic nutrition, the physical practice of contact and various kinds of massages.
It was March and in Montreal spring was coming up. After the freezing winter, during the first sunny days chairs and tables suddenly appeared in front of bars and clubs, and young people enjoyed the warmth of 6-7 degrees in their short sleeves. Then I came back to Italy, and in order to practice my profession I studied for six more years. First a diploma of massage therapist, then one of Naturopatic doctor.
You never stop learning. After a Masters in Naturopathy in Rome, at the Academy of Health Arts, I went to New York to get a PhD in Naturopathy and Nutrition. If every trip left me something beautiful, this one left me beauty itself. Unexpectedly, almost by accident, I open up to a new dimension, a more feminine one: the aesthetic care from the nathuropathic point of view.
I get to know innovative techniques and products, I begin to see changes in the face and body, accompanying the improvement of health and the reconciliation of the spirit. Great!
When I was a little girl who lived happily in the mountains and woods of Cortina, I used to repeat like a hypnotic mantra "I'll never live in Milan." In my imagination, Milan represented the chaotic and intoxicated life I did not wish to live. But maybe it was an omen ... after all a person like me, having traveled the whole world, where could she ever feel at home ? ... Now I live and I work in Milan that, despite stress and smog, allows me to live the interesting life that I always wanted to live.
After 15 years, I returned to India for a new, unusual journey. I brought 18 students of my Modern School of Ayurveda to let them enjoy the colors and flavors of this magical land. I found the same atmosphere and experienced moments of profound peace. After such a long time, despite the increased traffic, technology, globalization, the vibrations of India have remained the same, authentic. Now I'm sure that they will never change.
When you arrive in India today you really touch with your hands the meaning of the word KARMA, you realize that your life is tied to a thin wire, as thin as the space between your car and those of the opposite lane, and in the mad and useless race of your taxi driver, who wants to show you that he will arrive faster at the appointment that you didn't take, because you don't have anybody waiting for you in India. But he runs and runs, surpassing everybody to be the first to arrive. So, while you are holding tight to the seat you understand the practical function of all the gods stuck to the dashboard of the car, with flowers freshly picked and still fragrant. You close your eyes and start praying. This is the beginning of your spiritual journey in India.