Curating Adventures for the Soul
I have just returned from Italy. I brought a group of 10 people along with another teacher to Puglia (the heel of the boot). This trip took months of planning, researching, and curating what I like to call an Adventure for the Soul. It was magical. Timed with the first full moon of the summer season, with promises of 77 degree weather and an itinerary that was spacious yet with structure; I was confident and excited to explore Italy for the first time.
First of all, I misplaced my passport upon arriving to JFK. Turns out panicking doesn't help :)This shook me but when it was returned (3 minutes later), it was also a grounding, learning moment and a realization that this journey, like all journeys in life, had its own flow/rhythm, energy current. I buckled myself in next to the crying baby and started to meditate. I had created a mantra for myself to ease any tension or doubt: Everything flows smoothly and without obstruction. All obstacles are removed from my path and all flows with ease and peace. And so it began. 7 nights, 6 days: Massseria Della Zingara (aka the Gypsy House!) in Pugliano.
There was a delayed/lost luggage that put a damper on one of the students arrival but the bright, cheery attitude of our host and the ridiculously beautiful landscape smoothed out the edges. I promise you from the first meal, I knew Maria the beautiful woman who cooked for us was sent by angels. I promptly asked her to marry me. I'm still waiting for a reply. I mean really, I love Italian food but this was the best. The first morning was a "sleep in", jet lag, arrival day so we began at 8am instead of 7am with a morning class that included Curriculum Aum, ball therapy, and my general Integral Healing flow, sacred geometry yoga. The yoga room invited the morning light through beautiful arched windows and the white stone floors felt cool to the touch. The Masseria had it all: the props, the blankets, the alter, the vibe: its hard for me to describe. The breakfast (every day) would prove to be sweeter than my preference but enhanced by the fact that the fruit was picked just outside in the garden and the bread was freshly cut and the coffee was strong and well supplied. Between the pool, the property, and the massage offerings, the first day was one of respite and the group quickly started to feel like family. The luggage arrived that night after some hassle, phone calling and thank goodness for Mirko (our loyal driver for the week) who picked it up from the airport. Angela taught a wonderful evening class and we all shared another amazing meal (and did I mention the wine?) ohlalala
For the remainder of the week, we were doing a little dance around the unexpected rain. And this is the dance of curating an experience and actually living the thing. The next day, we started with a sunrise meditation and moved through a yang vinyasa flow and then after breakfast some of us went for a walk along the olive tree orchards with the twisted, magical trunks and the flowers everywhere, and picked figs and a fresh cherry off a tree. What a delight of the senses! Post lunch and in anticipation of exploring a nearby sea town (Pugliano di Mare), we organized ourselves to have dinner out and some sight seeing. Traveling with a group of 12 adults can feel a little like herding cats. We each on our own pace and wanting our own experience; we divided up and coordinated this meeting place and that possibility and off we went. OOOOOHHHH Italy with your narrow streets and white walls, blue painted doors and the Virgin Mary alters, and flower pots dotted with elderly women hanging laundry while a stray cat wanders across the road! I wrapped my head with a scarf and sashayed my way through town like I knew where I was going. I did! I knew I was a guide and a seeker at the same time. Exhilarating! We walked to the rocky beach, we ordered a drink, we snapped photos of the illuminating sunset and we let ourselves really feel the Mediterranean sun and feel the air on our skin. The dinner was perfection. The subtle shift of all of our energies palpable. Was this already two days in?!
The third day had the most magical sunrise, as the storms were coming in. Since we were do around the weather, we saw an opening between the clouds. Little did we know we would be chasing the rain; we set off for Alberobello. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a magical town in the hills with these white stone houses with pointed top hat roofs. I truly felt like I was in a fairytale. We walked in the rain up and down the narrow streets this way and that way, moving in and out of shops and landmark buildings, a church or two. The day was simply magical. Turns out is what sunny back at the Masseria (a couple of us stayed back) and we enjoyed a quiet practice including ball rolling, yin, and yoga Nidra. Fourth day: the rain was enough to drive our (guided) meditation indoors and I could feel the group getting a little restless. After breakfast, we set off for a local market in Poglinano. The clothing vendors had main stage but a few of us pulled through to the other side and found the food market! Olives, oranges, nuts, cheese, samples, flirting boys, crying children, beautiful people. It was a delight of the senses. We headed back for pizza party and what turned out to be quite a surprise. Jan, the owner of the Masseria had organized a two-man band to come and play the folkloric music of La Tarantella. We all danced and laughed and circled around the dining table. The daughter-in-law of Maria taught us the dance. Soooo much fun. What a treat! And I didn't even mention the stone pizza oven and maria's son making them in the rain and the calzones and ohmygoodness Italy.
Fifth day we began with a walking meditation and then explored the property before class. We decided it would be a good day for massage and personal adventure/rest. Some went to nearby Grotte (caves) some read, rested, and relaxed. We had a lot of unexpected rain and it encouraged a quietness, a less doing, and more feeling kind of experience. Promises of an outing, a dinner, a full moon got the gorup excited and we dressed up to go to Monopoli for sunset and dinner (Maria had clearly ruined us because no other food tasted quite as amazing). The final day was a beach day (finally!!!) and we headed to a Lido neat Monopoli. Some of us in the shade, some on the rocks, some went for a walk. Gelato was had by all. We headed back to Masseria for our closing circle, practice followed by a private wine tasting, food tasting, and the mood was filled with awe and splendor.
Can't wait to go back in 2019. Oh Italy.