One Apple A Day #566 – spirituality

“The most spiritual thing now is action.”

I keep thinking about this powerful statement since I saw the video posted by my dear friend Vanessa.

What can you do?

People all over the world look at the state of the world and ask, "What can I do to help?" Indigenous ceremonial leader Arkan Lushwala answers this question from an earth-based perspective.Learn more from Arkan Lushwala in this free e-guide download: https://hubs.ly/H0gtm7w0

Posted by Pachamama Alliance on Tuesday, 4 June 2019

It’s mid-morning, I’m sitting in a noisy café inside Genova train station. Not the usual time and place for my daily practice.
I tried to write earlier. I woke up at 6 am, walked to the deck of the boat. The sun was already out, a sign that we definitely sailed east and Italy is close.
I did some stretching, and then a sat there a few minutes in silence. Just the morning breeze guiding my meditation. That statement appeared in my mind.

“The most spiritual thing now is action.”

When I opened my eyes, ready to immerse into my writing practice, I found out I was alone — nobody on sight in the whole deck.
Then a voice came out from the speakers, I understood. It was almost time to leave the ferry. I had to rush to the cabin and pack up everything.
My writing had to wait.

It took a good deal of time to get off the ferry and commute to the train station. Plus, hunger came.
So, here I am.
Writing in an unusual time and space. With Lorena and Felix protecting my space, and some music to bring me back into my intuition.

And that statement came out again.
Even stronger.

“The most spiritual thing now is action.”

Surveys show that in this harsh, divisive, conflictual and challenging world, more and more people embrace spirituality. They are seeking the answers that logic struggles to provide. But the risk is to mistake spirituality as a way out from a reality we don’t like. Instead, it should be a journey into the world. And into ourselves.
I remember talking with a farmer a while ago during a workshop. We were going to lunch. He’s there taking care of his plants. We talked, he shared with us a few of his story and his love for nature. His hands, the way they touch the leaves, the way they dig into the soil, that was spiritual.

“The most spiritual thing now is action.”

One Apple A Day 565 – gratitude & wonder

I just started a journey that will move my life to a new place. So, know I’m in a space in-between of some sort. Where everything is temporary, changing and moving.

It is from this place that I am writing this morning. So, this post may come out confused, or maybe crisp and clear. I don’t know.
I’ll go with the moment.
I am writing from the space in-between.

Everything that lies behind me has prepared me for this moment. Everything that lies before me gives meaning to this moment.
This moment, this place is all that exists, the here and now.
Isn’t this how life is?
Standing like acrobats on the unstable rope between past and future.
Don’t look down, they say.
Just breathe and keep walking.
There is only this moment.
There is only the next step.

We all have experienced failure. We lost our balance and slipped on that thin, unstable rope.
So, we need to choose how we want to look at the past because it will inform how you deal with the here and now.
I choose gratitude because it makes my feet steady.

They also say that to keep my balance on that thin rope, I should point my gaze to a fixed point before me. Though, often the way ahead is lost in the midst. What do you do when the future is uncertain?
I choose to look ahead with wonder because it makes my feet lighter. And if no clear point is visible ahead, then I’ll create it with my imagination.

I breathe.
In and out.
Gratitude and wonder.
Another step forward.

One Apple A Day #564 – pain

“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” — Kahlil Gibran

When I read this quote from Gibran, a word stands out; “pain”.
I can’t really say why, but I feel a deep connection with that word.
Maybe because nowadays everyone seems to focus mostly on happiness, considering pain a momentary condition to overcome as soon as possible.

Or maybe it is because it is “pain” that taught me the most powerful lessons in my life.

I’m well aware of the inspiring power of wonder or the energy created by joy. But we should never underestimate the creative potential of pain.

Pain is part of life.  When we feel pain, we can do everything we can to get rid of it. Or we can explore it to find the lesson it carries.

I believe that to awaken the artist within, we must be willing to delve into pain and sadness, to explore our shadows, to face our dragons.

“Our fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

One Apple A Day #563 – wealth

It’s scorching everywhere in Europe so, if like me you don’t like air conditioning, having a sound and refreshing sleep is not easy.
This morning I woke up, went out in the terrace and sit there to do my morning meditation. Often, it is through this practice that the ideas for these posts emerge.
But this morning, thanks to the cool sunrise breeze, I fell asleep.
This mundane experience made me think about the importance of having a regenerating rest. How many people are unable, for many reasons, to rest properly?
Isn’t this somehow a measure of wealth?
This question opened up a new stream of reflections about the idea we, or maybe I should say I have about wealth.
Wealth is typically measured in money and stuff.
You’re wealthy if you have money in the bank, houses, cars, clothes, technology and so on.
But what about other essential things like health, love or fulfilment?

Over the last years, I’ve witnessed many times the resourceful support of family and friends through tough moments; that kind of richness can be bought, but it also doesn’t happen on its own. It must be nurtured investing your most significant resource; yourself.

Maybe, we should have a more holistic vision about wealth, one that includes your finance, sure, but also your health, your emotions, your mind and your soul.

One Apple A Day #562 – the safety paradox

You’ve almost surely read and heard many times about “Psychological safety”. Many studies proved that it is one, if not the, most critical condition for extraordinary performance at the personal and team level.

Psychological safety can be defined as “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career“. In short, it is the belief that, within a team or organisation, you feel safe to show up authentically, to speak your own truth and take risks.

So, creating a space where everyone feels safe should be the starting point for every teamwork.

How do you do that?

This is what I’ve been pondering about last days. The feeling of “being safe” is entirely subjective. I may feel safe to express myself fully in a space where someone else can not. How can I know if a space is “safe” for everyone? If someone doesn’t feel safe, will she or he manifest that feeling?

Indeed, some configurations are more helpful than others in creating a safe space for everyone. But I believe that psychological safety is sourced within. If I want to create a safe space, the first vital step is for me to sincerely believe that that space is safe and show up authentically.
No matter what.
And that means taking risks. It means to be willing to step out of my inner “safe” zone and feel unsafe.

It is a kind of paradox.

If I want to create a safe space for others, I must be ready to risk my own safety.

One Apple A Day #561 – fall forward

I love conversations. I’ve always been a prolific talker, and lately, I’m learning to be a better listener.
It may be naive to say, but if in a conversation everyone is talking, nobody is listening.

Though, as much as I love conversations, both with others and with myself, they are sterile if they don’t distil into action.

Words carry a lot of power, but it’s only when we act that we realise that power.

They say that every journey begins with one step.
But it has to be a step forward.
I’ve spent too much time running in place.
Jumping up and down and looking very busy but without going anywhere.

A step forward is scary.
It’s not just about moving a foot, we must commit to it with all our body.
We have to lose balance for a moment.
This is how our body works.
We fall forward, catch ourselves and then repeat.

If you’re not ready to fall, if you’re not prepared to fully commit to that step forward, you may end up running in place.
It may be excellent for your health, but it will take you nowhere.

One Apple A Day #560 – keep showing up

In building habits, I discovered that consistency is more critical that intensity. The key is to keep the ball rolling even when you can’t perform your practice with the intensity you’d want.
For me, it means to do my best to write my daily apple even when I’m tired, I wake up late, I don’t have enough or whatever other reason is making it impossible to create something with the quality and focus I’d love.

Showing up consistently is the most important thing.

So, here I am. It’s late, I’m sleepy, and I have to squeeze this post in five minutes. But I’ve decided to keep it this practice flowing.

And to give it a bit of substance, I’m playing smart adding the lyrics of a song that I love and that I was listening while driving the last weekend.

With golden streams
Our universe was clothed in light
Pulling at the seams
Our once flaring world now friends with fire
We may fall in love
Every time we open up our eyes
I get spaced in time
Takes violent things, angry things
& makes them kind
We are the dust of dust
We are the apple of God’s eye
We are infinite
As the universe will hold you inside

From Sun by Sleeping at Last

One Apple A Day #559 – How do I show up?

Before the challenges of life – the small and personal ones, so close to us to fill up our vision, and the big ones that are shaping the future of humanity – we usually ask ourselves “what can I do?“.

What can I do for climate change?
What can I do for the dear friend who’s going through a tough time?
What can I do to be happier with my partner?

All powerful and essential questions without an easy answer.
As a result, too often the answer is “nothing“.
So, I am wondering. What if “what can I do” is the wrong question?
What if we turn the direction of our quest inward by asking “Who can I be“?

Or, if you want to make it more practical, then you should ask “How do I show up?“.

How do I show up amid climate change?
How do I show up for my dear friend who’s going through a tough time?
How do I show up with my partner?

But be aware, because these are challenging questions. They ask you to look inward, to check your intentions and, above all, you can’t use “nothing” as a valid answer.
Neither you can postpone the action that comes with the answer.
Because this is about your identity, your being.

“The word identity was originally derived from the Latin words essentitas, which means being, and identidem, which means repeatedly. Your identity is literally your repeated beingness.” — James Clear

The way you show up here and now, is how you show up every day in everything.

One Apple A Day #558 – a pause

Sometimes I have the feeling that all our doing, our being busy, our effort in filling up our lives with things, with people, with experiences, it’s just a way to avoid listening to what wants to emerge.
You may give it different names depending on your culture and your upbringing; call, vocation, purpose.
Whatever the label you decide to use, you know what I’m talking about.
It is that feeling like when you fall in love with someone.
And no matter your will or your reasoning, it’s a force that pulls you towards the other person.
It is a beautiful feeling, but it is also scaring.
Because to live it fully we need to let go of our desire to control, we need to surrender and welcome the not knowing.

So, we fill up every space in our lives to block that force from emerging.
What if what wants to emerge is too challenging?
What if it pulls us towards places we don’t know how to reach?
What if it challenges us to step away from the things on which we built the lives we have?

And yet, can you think to something more blissful than falling in love?
What it takes is just slowing down a bit, taking a pause, a step back creating an opening in our crazy life, so we can make space for what wants to emerge.

One Apple A Day #557 – Romeo & Juliet

I’ve spent a few hours strolling around the streets of Verona yesterday. One of the main attractions for tourists is the famous Juliet’s Balcony. People from all over the world come here to see this symbol of love, maybe in the hope that it will bring more love in their lives.
But Juliet’s house and the balcony are nothing more than props. Not much different from the ones I saw outside the Arena when they were setting up the stage for the Aida.
Romeo and Juliet existed in the fantasy world created by Shakespeare’s creative mind. Yet, as Juliet’s balcony proves, if we believe a story long enough, it becomes real. That balcony in Verona feels very real.
This can also happen in our lives. If we tell ourselves a story long enough, that story will shape our reality.
“This can’t be done.”
“I’m not good at this thing.”
“Oh no, I can’t draw, sing, write.”
And so on.
How many “Juliet’s balconies” do you have in your life?
What would you be capable of, if you move past those stories?