One Apple A Day #588 – just listen

Earlier this morning, I was sitting with my eyes closed.
I was trying to slow down my heartbeat after the morning exercises.
There was a lot of noise at the beginning, but not outside. It was inside my head.
Thoughts and images spinning around chasing each other.
And my heart pumping in my ears.

So, I shift my attention outwards.
The familiar sound of my dog barking to someone or something. The engine of a car, slowing pulling away taking someone to work. The birds singing, a choir of different voices that I can’t recognize but I felt some were saying hello to the new day and others were saying goodbye to the finishing night. A kid’s voice asking for something, maybe breakfast. The cat drinking from its bowl.

Then, all of a sudden, the silence.
Complete silence.
As if the world pauses for a moment.
I couldn’t even hear my own breath.
My body felt light as if it was made of air.

I opened my eyes, and the world burst to life with all it sounds, voices, colours, light, and smells.
It felt so alive.
I felt so alive.

I want to do it more often.
Pause and listen.
Not to achieve something, not even peace.
Just to be.

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 #555 – eternity

“Within you is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse

When I breathe into stillness.
When I’m carried away by a song.
When I’m staring at something beautiful.
When I’m walking in silence along a river.
When I’m completely immersed in a conversation.

In all those moments, time dissolves.
There is no before and after.
Just me being me in the present moment.
That is the experience of eternity.

There are concepts for which we don’t have words.
Concepts like eternity or infinity.
Words are a product of our mind, and our mind thinks in forms and shapes.
Eternity can’t be explained.
It can only be experienced.
Directly, or through art.

MINUTE ETERNITY

I remember
needing nothing

but what I could smell and touch
and hear in the minute

eternity between sounds or the long
shimmer of the barley’s

green-gold dance on the wind,
my life a spreading ring

of quiet, like the trout’s brief
in-breath

at the surface of a river,
like the slow

outward movement of a raindrop
spreading on a still lake…

By David Whyte – From ‘Death Waits’: in ‘River Flow:
New and Selected Poems’

One Apple A Day #549 – Make it personal

Don’t take anything personally” is the second of the four agreements shared by Don Miguel Ruiz in his most famous book, The Four Agreements.

Ruiz reminds us that nothing other people do is because of us, but it is because of themselves. Using his words: “Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.

This is a powerful reminder that would remove a lot of tension and stress from our life. We spend so much time worrying about the opinions of others. In doing so, we let those opinions shape our behaviours and, in the end, our lives.

As Ruiz wrote: “You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about me.

What happens around me is not about me. It may impact my life, indeed, but it is not about me.

Though, in my experience, I’ve learned that only when I make something personal, I really give everything I got to make things happen.

So, my agreement becomes “Don’t take anything personally, but make everything personal.

Whatever happens around me, it is not about me, but it is part of me as much as I am part of it. So, I won’t take it personally, but I’ll make it personal infusing my whole being into my doing.

“If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong. That is the experience of love.” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day #547 – sensing and making-sense

During a conversation with one of my mentors, I became aware of the essential difference and the vital connection between sensing and sense-making.

Sensing is the ability to perceive something even if often we can’t describe it. It’s an innate capacity of our intuitive intelligence that allows us to sense the energy and vibrations of the universe, the one within and the one around us. It is at the base of empathy and compassion.

Sense-making is the ability to find or give meaning to something, to create a logical frame to explain what we experience. It is mostly a cognitive ability.

Our material society favours sense-making. We spend most of our time in school learning how to make sense of everything. Mainly because “making sense of things” is what is supposed to help you move forward in life and have success.
Though, a lot of studies proved that very successful people also have a high ability to sense. Emotional Intelligence is now widely considered essential for a successful life.

Sensing and sense-making are activities of different “muscles”, but only when they work together, we can express our full potential. A high ability to sense that is not matched by a developed capacity of sense-making can easily lead to a sense of overwhelming. Sense-making without the ability to sense is like an empty shell, dry and non-generative.

How can we develop our ability to make sense of the world without losing our capacity to sense it? And how can we awaken our dormant innate ability to sense?

I have the feeling that “art” is an excellent answer to both questions.

“While a toddler’s world might be geographically tiny, it is mentally limitless; conversely, when we grow up, we have the potential freedom to explore everything around us, but will often limit ourselves to the same narrow range of places, people and experiences.” — Little Wins: The Huge Power of Thinking Like a Toddler by Paul Lindley

One Apple A Day 524 – courage and love

Courage: c. 1300, corage, “heart (as the seat of emotions),” hence “spirit, temperament, state or frame of mind,”from Old French corage “heart, innermost feelings; temper” (12c., Modern French courage), from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart” [source]

If I ask you to place courage or love somewhere in the body, I believe that most of you would associate both of them with the heart. An organ that we don’t control and that relentlessly pumps life in our body.

There is a powerful connection between courage and love. They are both about surrendering to something bigger than ourselves.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this morning reflections. It all started with my morning Be The Change card that has the word “Courageousness” on it. The drawing that accompanies the word is a human being with a stream of energy flowing through his core.
And I thought that love is the same; a stream of energy flowing through all of us, connecting people.

So, maybe to be courageous is just to open up my heart so love can freely flow through.

“The opposite of love is not, as we many times or almost always think, hatred, but the fear to love, and fear to love is the fear of being free.” — Paulo Freire

One Apple A Day #501 – art is a form of truth

“A map is not the territory it represents.” — Alfred Korzybski

We love shapes and forms because they answer to our need for predictability. They create order and help us understand reality and make informed decisions. They can also be measured, so they allow us to gain clarity about where we stand. They defined boundaries.

However, we should always be aware that the shapes and forms that we used to interpret reality, are products of our mind.
Countries, religions, organisations, social norms.
They are all shapes and forms that we put on top of reality to make sense of it.

But they are not reality.

When we convince ourselves that those shapes and forms are the reality that they become cages, taming our human potential.

“Perception always intercedes between reality and ourselves.” — René Magritte

This is why art is vital.

Artists remind us to look beyond shapes and forms to see the infinite essence of everything.

“We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” — JFK

One Apple A Day #498 – live everyday

It’s a gorgeous morning here on the hills in the North East of Italy.
I’m sitting outside, writing this post on a bench surrounded only by the sounds of nature. I can’t say how many different animals are singing from the woods around this place. There are no other guests, and the people working on this farm haven’t arrived yet. So, I can savour every bit of this moment. The crispy breeze, the warming sun, the goat staring at me from her corner and the peacock walking around as if I’m just an accessory to his world.

I am the witness of a morning party celebrating the beauty of life. And out of the blue, this scene from the Peanuts appears in my mind.

Charlie: “Someday we’ll all die, Snoopy!”
Snoopy: “True, but on all the other days we will not.”

One Apple A Day #495 – we are one

“Everything in Life is Vibration” – Albert Einstein

Yesterday I wrote about our natural frequency.
This morning in my meditation, this idea of vibrations came back to me. I remember reading on Rupert Spira book, The Nature of Consciousness that “The body appears in the mind as a series of sensations and perceptions, and the mind is a vibration of awareness. As such, the body is not something solid made out of matter but a condensation or localisation of and in awareness.

If everything I experience – myself, others, the world – are different and unique modulations of the same awareness, then to hurt anyone or anything means to hurt myself.
I believe that when this awareness grows in us, then peace is the natural outcome. It is so simple, yet not easy.
To most of you, this thought may sound naive.
Though, I believe that only if we realize that we are one, a sustainable transformation will be possible.

“If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong. That is the experience of love.” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day #478 – everything is subjective

How often are you asked to be objective?
Particularly at work, we are often told that to do a good job, to make effective decisions and, in general, to see things as they really are, we must be objective.

To be objective means to be unbiased. When you’re objective about something, you have no personal feelings about it.

Is it really possible or are we just lying to ourselves?

To ask someone to be objective is the same as asking to avoid being human. How can we fully experience the world if we try to strip away or hide a large part of who we are?

Anytime we think we are making objective decisions we are just lying to ourselves. So, what if instead of trying in vain to be objective, we acknowledge our subjectivity?

Even more, we explore it. Through introspection, we shift our attention from the known to the knower, from the observed to the observer.

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” ― Anaïs Nin

If you struggle to get a sense of the reality in which you live, it may be worth to turn your focus inside.