Last year in August I was planning a trip to visit my sister in Europe. A week before my departure, my friend told me about an enchanting place called Damanhur in Italy. She said it was a place she visited a few years ago, where their main focus is to progress spirituality and esoteric physics. I was so intrigued, I changed my flights to insert 11 days into my trip dedicated solely to being in Damanhur. When I changed my tickets, the total cost became $999, so I knew I needed to go! My sister and I spent a few days together in Rome, then we said goodbye and I caught a train to Milan solo. From there I took another train to Turin and finally a 40 minute cab ride to Damanhur. I had enrolled myself in their 7 day grounds introduction and meditation program and thought I would stay an extra 4 days after that with the hope of having made new friends to hang out with.
Day 1, all of the people enrolled in the program meet for the first time, I of course am the youngest; the rest of the group ranged from mid forties to mid seventies. But I don't mind at all, I find that older people in these situations are always very open and inclusive. Our guide for the day introduced himself as 'Buffalo', I said 'aaaaah, like the Mozzarella', he didn't like that very much and went on to explain that citizens of Damanhur, if they choose can change their name to an animal or plant name. How nice!
Buffalo showed us around the grounds and told us that each day we would have one lesson in meditation and one excursion. Then the whirlwind began.
I was introduced to a world where people speak openly about spirituality and work hard to progress in their consciousness. Their energy work is called selfica, where they manipulate thin copper wires with crystals and alchemic substances to make energetic computers designed for assistance in any practice: healing medical conditions, safety, changing energetic makeup of beings, even time travel.
One of our meditations was to walk through the art gallery and stop to feel the energies of each piece, to stay if we liked it and move on if there was no feeling. I enjoyed this a lot, I was almost through the entire gallery without any sense of overwhelming energies, until one. I reached this canvas, it had been scratched and splattered with neon paint to look like a star in the night sky. I started crying. I can't explain how I know it, but that was a painting of my home. It felt exactly like being away from home for years and finally looking at a picture of a house I grew up in, all the feelings, they were all there.
Another meditation was self sculpture creation. We entered a room and were told to choose a position that best represented our present state and then to close our eyes and trace every inch of our bodies with our hands. Not to think, only feel what we were made of. The shape of our feet, the length of our neck, the curve of our spine, everything. Then we each took one big lump of clay, we were to build a base, then work then lump into our form without separating it but shaping it instead. We were not to ever look in the mirror: the mind was not to make this sculpture, only the feeling memory of the hands. What an experience! I carved myself sitting with my legs folded inwards and my hands on my knees. I'm sitting upright with a faint smile on my face. I call this peace.
When we were done, the guide, Aniello lined up all our figurines, told us to look at each of them honestly and share what we thought their lives were about based on what we saw there. After all, they were expressions of our very selves. It's a powerful practice, to accept yourself when others speak honestly of you in front of you, especially when they don't know your mind, they can see the real you most clearly. I'm happy that my inner state was conveyed, everyone said they felt deep peace when looking at my figure. Yay!
There were just so many profound experiences I had in the tiny 11 days I was there, I could really write a book on it. I haven't even began on the meditations I had within the temples themselves! Instead of a poem tomorrow, I'll continue this story...