Two years ago I set out on journey that has taken me to stunning places, off the beaten track, where people that have made a choice to live holistically have opened their hearts and their homes, sharing their happiness, health and good fortune with friends and world travellers alike. I found myself in quite unique places where people from around the world – an eclectic mix of travelers, students, professionals, artists and free spirits- come together to disconnect from technology, connect with one self and with people, to share food and moments, to dance, to think, to walk in nature, to tell stories around the fire and make music with friends they had not met before.
At the same time I started looking into holistic therapies and with that surfaced the idea that the whole of one’s life choices should be holistic, balanced and connected. Easier said than done. Everything is connected.
In medicine, an holistic approach means that the practitioner is looking at a person as a whole being made of a complex array of interdependent systems, therefore taking into account mental, emotional, energetic, social and environmental factors, rather than just treating the symptoms of a disease.
As a philosophy, Holistic is simply based on the belief that the parts of something (a person, a community, the world..) are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. An holistic lifestyle aims to balance all aspects of life: Physical & psychical health, energy flows, relations with inner-self and others, sense of purpose and meaning of life..
There is a common focus on the importance of connection and balance, but there is no universal recipe for happiness. Connection to one’s true self, to others and to the rhythms and cycles of nature; balance, in the individual’s mind, body, and spirit and with all aspects of life. People would recommend me one of the 1k manuals on changing your life. ‘Yes, great! but How do people balance their life, practically, in the everyday? What does A balanced holistic life looks like?’ There can’t be a universal definition of a lifestyle that balances everything for all individuals. So I set out to find out, see by myself and experience what holistic means for people and what resonates with me.
For me, following my inclination meant sea, sunshine and good food. So that is how I have started. One day I left Oxford and headed south, ‘I am going looking for fresh oranges! I’m heading to Sicily, the long way round!’. Two years on, this journey have taken me to meet special people and brought me to magical places, of the kind that you can’t find unless you already know where they are. Following breadcrumbs across Europe, I have met beautiful courageous people that have chosen to make radical life choices to follow their heart and their dreams.
There is the consciousness of being a part of a bigger system: the eco-system. The place we live in, the relations we keep, the food we eat; they all are fuels of human life. The quality of the fuels we chose to aliment our life energies determines the quality of life. Literally. We can be vegan or omnivore, but we understand that what we eat is the energy that sustain our life. We have a symbiotic relationship with food. we put energy to produce our food and our food puts energy into our bodies. If food is prepared with positive energy, or if our relationship with food is positive, we consume positivity. Physical and mental health are directly correlated to diet. Food is the life-force energy that comes from the sun and the earth: yogis call it Prana. The quality of energy in your body is fundamentally the energy of the food you eat.
“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates
This I understood living in the Tao Centre Colwyn, gardening with Barry, the Daoist master that moves the energy of the Chi in ancient stone circles in the hills of North Wales, that writes songs about healing your internal organs and offers ancient wisdom blended together with the best fruit & veg smoothies I have ever tasted. His home is a meditation centre, his life a balanced daily practice.
For many the choice of a holistic lifestyle has meant ‘getting out of the mainstream system’ (earn to buy) to invest time and energy directly in gaining a better quality of life that money can’t buy. For many the choice to re-connect with nature and to return to working the land, organically, is the best and obvious option to regaining one’s own time and be able to eat healthily, to give to one’s children the taste of genuine food. So, many have left the sandwich lunch in front of a pc to dedicate themselves to growing their fresh food with love and care, to be able to pick it from the garden, full of taste and Prana – ‘life energy’.
To understand what it means and what it takes to live simply and coherently, I have been putting myself in their shoes for a day, a week, a month.. I have shared their honest everyday life in the places where they have chosen to live. They have been Showing me what they have decided to do with their one, wild and precious life.
Like Francesca and Marco, an Artist and a Chef, that sold their successful restaurant on the seaside to return to her grandparents land to reclaim it from 30 years of abandonment. With their 3 children, a Naturopath, a waiter and a young Cicerone, they embarked on the building of their eco & chemical-free home: a stunning 3 stories straw-bale house on a remote hillside behind the Cinqueterre. The first strawbale house in Liguria.
Their home, called ‘Il Filo di Paglia’, is a B&B and a working didactical farm; their orchard is a bastion of old fruits varieties; their fields are eclectic embodiments of gardening philosophies: BRF, biodynamic, fukuoca, Manenti method, permaculture, and local popular tradition. Here the everyday work is meditation: reciting ho’oponopono mantras ‘I love you, thank you’ while chopping chilies; walking in meditation spirals to pick the herbs for dinner; taking the kitchen scraps to feed the chickens, that will provide the feed for the garden, that provides the veggies to accompany the roasted chicken that feeds the people.
They share their Love for good food as Slow Food crusaders of taste. They are farmers, cheese makers, herbalists and foragers by old traditions, they are innovators in the return to the simple life. Supporter of all things healthy, holistic, natural, they are people of big heart with lots of energy, knowledge, experiences and enthusiasm to share. they share the lessons thy have learned with WWOOFers and guests alike. For a day or a week, visitors are welcome as part of the family. They don’t offer just a holiday, they give a life experience, a genuine taste of their land and their life. Here even the chickens roam free.
While Food is the physical energy, Relations (family, friends, neighbors..) give us energy and motivation to act, they give us purpose, meaning, sense of belonging. The quality of the mental and spiritual energy in your life is largely a result of the quality of the relations you keep. Relations are made of presence, shared moments, time and intentions. To understand the feeling of overflowing joy and overall wellbeing this can give you, you just need to put the time and positive intention to Be there, in that moment.
This I have seen visiting Vittorio, once a professor teaching in world universities, now retired to grow herbs and make health products on a stunning hill, that looks like a corner of Austalia in Sicily. Or like with Nirav, a world sailor that left the yacht to dedicate his cares to growing oranges. The best oranges I found in Sicily! He takes the calls of his clients, going out in the garden to pick and send a case of fruits that reaches your doorstep within three days, and with still the smell of sunshine on the skin. Philosophy of short supply chain (Filiera corta) direct from producers to consumers, only when the season is right. (Nirav, 0039 349 1645340 email@example.com). His house is another Cosmopolitan centre of life always full of people, where I was introduced to the ‘Holistic Art of Olive Tree Pruning’, and where over the years thousands of travellers have arrived from all over the world. However, the locals and the sat nav would not be able to tell you the way to get here. Everything is connected through other networks, through other ways.
For two years now I have been trying on lifestyles like dresses. Looking for examples of happily balanced lifestyles, I set foot through spiritual community and holistic centres, lived with holistic practitioners, a master of Chinese medicine, with eco-fighters, with farmers, herbalists, motley folks, with shepherds and shamans. They are individuals, families, communities, tribes.. They are all artists, they are all open hearted people.
I feel so much richer in shared experiences, connections, magic moments and unique taste experiences. I will always have with me the taste of auntie Maria’s Pistachio cake, made with the nuts picked on their land, the taste of Pia’s fresh pesto, of the cheese of Peppino, of the wine of Giampaolo..
The taste of eating food you have grown yourself leaves you the best aftertaste you can have in life. Sharing it with friends and family gives you the salt of life. But Tastes don’t travel well away from their land, the journey to find them makes all the difference.
So my journey goes on, tasting my way through life, carrying with me a pot of orange marmalade, like sunshine in a jar. Everything is connected.
Links you may find interesting:
IL filo di paglia – http://www.agriturismoilfilodipaglia.it/
la casa delle acque – tel 349 1645340 firstname.lastname@example.org
Slow food – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_Food
Osho Leela – http://osholeela.uk/ – personal growth and meditation centre
Tao Centre Colwyn – http://www.healingtaobritain.com/ – QiGong, Nei Gong,Tai Chi, Meditation, Internal Alchemy, Bodywork, Tao Yoga and the Art of Everyday Living
Wwoof – https://www.wwoof.org.uk/
Author: Kia Gamby
Lover of Life!