As the new year comes into full swing, I've been deliberating as to what focus I want to give 2018. Wellbeing and Self-Awareness are my keywords for this year. As the blogs unfold, I want to uncover various aspects of wellbeing and self-awareness, as well as visit the tools we can use to get to know ourselves more and nurture the art of living well.
I'd love to start us off then, with the 'tool' that is spirituality... the most profound, often crucial, and almost always overlooked tool.
My friend, Chico Francoglio, recently came to visit me in Barcelona, and shot the photo above. Noticing the sleepy and relaxed Buddha sat in the background of the image took me back to a time when, still living in Singapore, I searched for and found pieces of my truth and my self in Buddhism. It was at that time that I'd been introduced to meditation by a wonderful Buddhist nun at the Amithaba Buddhist Centre.
A couple of years after this encounter, I met with my first counsellor, Marilyn, who went on to reveal herself as an angel in disguise in my life. She helped me find pieces of myself I'd lost along the way and introduced me to the Hoffman process.
Through her and the Process, I was able to find yet another piece.
More years down the line, in 2005, I started practicing Yoga with a kind and skilled, Chinese Hatha Yoga Master. He advised me to go on a yoga retreat in the south of India where I could learn even more... so I did.
I came back not long after, feeling very whole, with a mantra bangle in tow. I'd been introduced to Induism by the Head of the Ashram at my retreat and upon my return, I felt I'd found another piece of truth and of my self.
I remember reading a lot of New Age books by Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer back when I'd first arrived in Asia in 1993. I had been introduced to them by an Australian couple and in them I'd found, yes, another piece of truth and myself.
After a short stint in Marbella in the early half of the 2000's, I finally moved back to Singapore, where this time, I was introduced to the Bible. I never thought I would approach it even, though I'd been born and raised a Christian Catholic and attended a Christian school until I was 10. In fact, I was pretty ignorant and unaware about the Bible and most of its contents. As a therapist, I found myself being pretty skeptical too.
I began my 'Bible study' reading the Parables and studying the various Acts. I slowly began to understand and engage with the passages, falling in love with Paul's well-known scripture to the Corinthians, which covers the nature of love. This new book I was exploring put me in touch with some beautiful and gracious spiritual guides in Singapore and Italy, who over time became my mentors and inspired my steps as a coach and speaker. With them, again, I found another piece of truth and my self.
In 2009, I went to see James Cameron's groundbreaking feature film, Avatar. In the space of 2.5 hours or so, I fell in love with its story and message and I was sure I'd found another piece of truth and of my self.
In 2011, I met a lovely Muslim young man who worked for Singapore Airlines. We met on several occasions and spent a lot of time talking about his God and my God, and laughing together. We both knew we were in fact talking about the same God. One day, whilst I was going through a period of depression, suffering from my separation and the loss of my family, this friend of mine said to me, "you know, Elisabetta, every negative event that happens to us in life is a blessing in disguise". He suggested I kept my rosary close and prayed anytime I found my mind cluttered with negative thinking. With him I must admit, I found another piece of truth and of my self.
The message I'm trying to get across by sharing all these wonderful blessings that unfolded is that, well... searching for the truth is a journey, not a quick fix. Just as the journey to finding ourselves and the pieces we lost along the way is a work in progress and not found in an instant.
Also... there is no right or wrong road!
I believe God (or whatever you'd like to refer to Divine Energy as), gives us wonderful tools during our lives. Our job is to discern what one or two of those tools work best for us so we can hone in on them. As with anything in life, can figure out what does and doesn't work by simply trying various things out and learning along the way.
At times, we can let go of tools we've collected. This certainly happened to me. I'd abandoned my faith over the years and searched for other paths and readings to fill the hole that it had left behind. It took some time but I eventually went back to basics, nourished by everything I'd experienced and learned in the meantime.
My spiritual journey and search for my purpose was never meant to be black and white. It can be dangerous for some of us who look for answers in many different avenues. The risk is that if we're not clear or strong enough within ourselves, we can get lost within religious movements or communities / institutions led by manipulative people or even that are just not meant for us. I believe though, that we need to trust that along the way, we will find the due strength to step back and evaluate what is useful or useless for us and make our own, informed and intuitive choices.
Everything in life can be seen as a tool for spiritual growth and wellbeing: a book, a yoga class, a friend, a religious movement, a movie, a workshop... I don't believe in excluding anything. There does come a time though when, after experiencing a lot of various options, maybe almost even every option, when we have to choose our own spiritual 'mainstream'.
When do you recognise that it's 'time'? I implore you not to worry or search for that... someone or something will usually show up and tell you. The 'time' for me occurred when someone back in 2004 said to me, "Elisabetta, it's wonderful that you are so open to everything. All paths lead to God. But remember, there's a risk of getting caught up in the confusion. Isn't it time you chose one path?".
So I did choose. I chose my own spiritual path of trusting that God would guide me. I chose faith.
In the past 7 years of living in solitude, I finally chose to go back to my original spiritual teachings, my spiritual roots if you will. Today, those roots help me feel strength. All those experiences and teachings I collected in Asia continue to enrich me. I feel whole. I feel like I've found those pieces that I lost along the way and I found my own truth: that life is a magic adventure worth living, fully human and fully alive.