Life’s blows can knock you off your feet. No doubt. You may be isolated in your family, community, and society, and can’t find a way to get out. It’s hell. When we feel vulnerable, it’s important to remember that we are not alone.

A few years ago, I lived with a Costa Rican tarantula in Kingston, NY. The tarantula was in a terrarium. It’s a long story, and the reason why I mention it here is that I witnessed the tarantula’s molt. I studied it, too. When tarantulas molt they prepare in advance. The process of cracking the exoskeleton through the growth of a new and larger body takes some time. The tarantula prepared a safe and secluded area by spinning a net of protection with silk. When the time came to let the old outer sheath go, it retired and became very sensitive to sounds, smells, and any other vibration in the room.

In my experience, our process of managing pain is similar. Not the moment when we are hurt, but in later, when we are ready to heal, forgive, and let go. We retire and process. This is a lonesome place and we mistake it for “being alone.” We are not alone. I remind myself daily that I stand on the spiritual shoulders of my ancestors, and that we all are on this planet together. Wether you pray a god/dess, another form of divinity, or you are an atheist, you still come from a line of people, and carry their talents, struggles, and traumas. We are not our physical bodies alone. There is more to our expression, joy, and sharing than what we can communicate through our five senses. The mind, our sixth sense, remains mostly a mystery, and this can be our field of inquiry, too. Why do I think the way I do?

Life happens, and we can’t control the process of living because are not alone. We live in an ecosystem that is also changing, in cultures co-existing on a planet that is making revolutions at approximately 30km per second. How are we supposed to control this process?


I am sitting in a cafe on Fullerton. The radio is playing “You give love a bad name” by Bon Jovi. I was really into this band when I was 12 years-old. I used to listen to their music in the countryside of Siena, learn the lyrics by heart, then imagine I was in the U.S. I even got a perm. No comments, please
Later it was Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, later John Coltrane, later… well, the list goes on.
Now I am actually here, looking outside the window and remembering this girl dreaming about me thinking about her.
In retrospect, I see that it was music that brought me here, by allowing me to manifest this “me” who is now typing about itself.

Letting Go

Receive by letting go, not by grasping.

So it is with breath, body, emotions and mind.

Relax around the edges of focus, and stay relaxed.

Prepare and persevere, for when the moment comes, you will be ready to hit the target.

The Slants

Tonight, watching an episode of Vice News, I learned about the expression “slants.” In a section of the program, they were talking about an Asian-American band, The Slants, who has been fighting with the Supreme Court to have a right to their band’s name. The court says that it cannot legitimize a racist pejorative term. However, the band says, this term is used and who better than them can denounce it by making it paradoxical? More here.
I was not aware of the term. I am learning this culture as I live in different parts of the US but there are always expressions and realities that escape my awareness.
In any case, I am taken aback by vulgarity in human relationships. I looked at the etymology of this word/adjective:
slant (v.)
1520s, “to strike obliquely” (against something), alteration of slenten “slip sideways” (c. 1300), perhaps via a Scandinavian source (compare Swedish slinta “to slip,” Norwegian slenta “to fall on one side”), from Proto-Germanic *slintanan. Intransitive sense of “to slope, to lie obliquely” is first recorded 1690s; transitive sense of “to give a sloping direction to” is from 1805. Related: Slanted; slanting. As an adverb from late 15c.; as an adjective from 1610s. Slant rhyme attested from 1944.
In the sense of a shape of eyelids, I learned on another etymology site, the word is used in Europe also to describe Europeans who have slants such as Scandinavians, Germans, Polish and a few others.
For power and money, humans disrespect themselves by disrespecting others. Wake up!

Levels of Thought


A few days ago I flew from Florence to Frankfurt. It was a 7.20am flight and I was assigned a window seat. The plane left Florence on time. We flew over the Alps as the Sun began to rise. When you witness a sunrise or a sunset from a plane, once you are over the clouds, you can see all the colors of the spectrum over the earth’s horizon, red being closer to the earth, then orange, yellow, green blue, and indaco fading into the depth of the universe. It’s spectacular. I was sitting there, miraculously traveling many miles per hour, observing the macrocosmic manifestation of the color spectrum.

Once we were over Frankfurt, as we began descending, I could see the clouds under us, covering the earth as far as my eyes could travel. Above the clouds there was clear, rarified air, with the Sun shining bright. The clouds looked turbulent from above. We descended even more and plunged into the clouds. The turbulence hit us and, all of a sudden, the quiet ease of our cruising was replaced by agitation and lack of clarity of vision. All I could see from the window was a grey fog. We descended further, below the clouds, getting ready for landing in a new rainy day in Frankfurt.

It dawned on me (yes, I guess the pun  works here) that what I had just experienced was a good representation of the various levels of thought. Let’s take it from the bottom up.

In the day-to-day life of humans, most daily thoughts are connected to survival: if you are privileged –> What time do I need to get up? Where is my phone? What am I eating for lunch?; If not –> Am I going to survive today? How many more minutes do I have to live? Am I going to get out of this hell? This is the level below the clouds. The clouds represent thinking patterns that are related to our habits and attitude. The clouds can be sparse (a thought here and there) or thick (lots of thoughts). Life under the clouds depends on the quality of the clouds. There is turbulence and instability in overthinking, in letting our thoughts think us rather than choosing how we think and what we think about. Right above this level of thinking is a more rarefied, and more elevated level of thinking, where I choose my thoughts. This is what yoga calls ekagrata, the capacity to choose a thought at a time, to start a thought, follow it, concentrate on it, and then let it go at will; the turbulence of inner voices is gone and I can find stability in cruising (i.e., living). Above this level is the deep indigo of space, a place in which there is no more distinction between being and thinking. The Sun is awareness: without it, I would have not been able to see anything at all outside of that window. Life would not exist.

Why is this useful? I was caught in a whirlpool of thoughts today that caused me to feel agitated and anxious but when I remembered this experience, it was very easy for me to see this one moment as one level of thinking rather than my whole reality. I was “under the clouds” at that moment but there were other levels I could access, if I wanted to. This awareness allowed me to leave the emotional states I was in, take a deep breath, and focus on what was truly inspiring and important.


When you mess up, stop and sit yourself down. I mean this literally. Sit yourself down, and learn to dwell in the uneasiness of the confusion of the moment. I find myself running, physically and mentally, from place to place, from action to action. Often this is not due to a busy schedule, but to the fear of sitting down and feeling what’s happening in this moment. There is nowhere to run. Eventually, we all need to sit with ourselves and face the demons that are rising from our psyche. We all do it so keep courage. You are not alone.

Forgiveness can start with being able to sit and give your life a good look. Forgiveness is about accepting what is going on right now. It may not be perfect or even good but it’s where you are at. If you can’t accept where you are at right now – with all the guilt, the fears, the imperfection – you can’t change it. You may think that running around will bring about change but, if you look closely, only the external circumstances change, not the real issue. The real issue requires silence and patience to be seen and heard. It requires forgiveness.

Acceptance is often uncomfortable, scary, ugly, smelly. We’d rather get busy and forget about it but at some point, you can’t run anymore. So sit in that place. Be strong. Eventually, as you calm yourself down, the lotus of your awareness will bloom from the mud of your mistakes and you can take a baby step into evolution.

What else are you really looking for?

Explaining Energy

It is not easy to explain energy. Energy travels through multiple dimensions and in subtle channels. Yet one can witness energy. It’s palpable. Energy is both objective and subjective and, because of this, everyone will have a different experience of its movements. Energy is what keeps us alive.

While it is complex to explain energy, one can learn to cultivate its flows with fairly simple exercises and observations. Moods are a manifestation of energy. Observing one’s and other people’s moods is a study of energetic clusters. Often different energies move at the same time. We feel happy and sad, we are in a good mood but with the potential that bad moods can rise at any moment.

I have noted that the birth of a mood is faster than the awakening of my awareness of it. So far, my observations have only started when the mood was already present in myself. With observation, I saw how my physical (posture) and emotional selves (breath) embodied the mood. That’s a study of energy.

To explain energy is also difficult because we can rationalize energy only to a certain extent. The rest belongs to the realm of feeling. They are both necessary and, in fact, interdependent.

When I teach awareness through yoga, I do my best to support the students as they are trying to feel certain energies that they may have never experienced before. Cultivating one’s subtlety is a privilege that is free, but it requires, as Maharishi Patanjali teaches us, practice and detachment, a letting go of the effort. (Yoga Sutra, I.12)

It is important to have some tools when trying to describe something that is not perceivable with the physical senses alone. For example, energy can flow up or down, sideways, in spirals, intermittently, weakly, moving from the inside to the outside, or through certain parts of the body alone. We can feel energy coming from a plant or another person who is half a block away. Some people see energy through shapes and colors; others through sounds. A feast of inner visions and symphonies; darkness and tones. Other people hear stories or chants. Energy dives into memory and enlivens it, makes it alive again.

While it is important to have a vocabulary to express energy, let’s not get lost in empty words. Always go back to feelingHow does this energy that I am feeling moves me? How am I feeling? Observe yourself beyond judgment (no self-hate, please). Then, an a second beat, allow yourself to explain how you felt, and how the energies felt.


Explain, v. Early 15c., from Latin explanare “to explain, make clear, make plain.” Originally explane, spelling altered by influence of plain. In 17c., occasionally used more literally, of the unfolding of material things: Evelyn has buds that “explain into leaves.” (source:

The unfolding of material things, like you. You are also a material thing. In this sense, explaining is becoming.

Yoga (why thinking of “yoga” as a noun is limiting)

In the English language, the Sanskrit term “yoga” has been limited to function as a noun, like… Pilates, or Zumba, so one can say: “I am doing yoga,” or “I am going to yoga class.”

When I studied yoga in India, in the paramparai (lineage) of Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj, I learned that “yoga is a way of life.” Indeed. It is not only a form of exercise that I “do” twice a week. It can be that, but that is not IT.

Yoga is also a verb, a movement, the act of becoming, falling and rising, undoing and doing, apparently not doing anything, and ultimately, evolving.

The Line

Tonight I asked myself this question: where is the line between my work and my life?

What is work? Why do we do it? How? What are our chances of getting work, doing work, sharing our work? If work is our profession, where is the line between the work we do and who we are, the persons we are becoming?

I am well aware that too many people are unemployed, or if they are employed, they are underpaid, or treated disrespectfully on the basis of gender, race, economic background, and more.

If we are lucky enough to have work, and if we are blessed enough to enjoy it, how do we use it? What is our relationship to it? Are we happy? Can we change anything if we are not happy? What would we like to change? Are we able to speak up?

Eventually, we may see that life is work and work is life.


Cambia todo cambia (o forse no)

L’amore non è sempre rose e fiori, musica meditativa o passionale di sottofondo. L’amore ci presenta momenti di dolore, tristezza, lutto, fatica, perdita di orientamento. L’amore è cambiamento perché si manifesta attraverso ciò che percepiamo e tutto, in natura e su questo piano d’esistenza, cambia e si trasforma.

Crescendo in un contesto culturale cattolico, ho imparato ad associare l’idea di Amore (Dio/Cristo) con l’idea di eternità (Paradiso). Anche negli insegnamenti dello yoga l’anima, Atman, è eterna. Tutto è divino e il divino permea la nostra esistenza terrena. Parlare delle mutazioni dell’amore, invece, non è così comune. Dal momento che entrano in gioco i sensi, la relatività delle percezioni, i colori delle lenti che ogni subcultura indossa, l’amore diventa elastico, cambia forma, ci sfugge dalle mani per poi travolgerci senza preavviso.

Trovo interessante poter accettare l’esistenza di queste due realtà, l’eterna e la soggettiva, senza che una prevalga sull’altra, ma anzi sperando che la consapevolezza di entrambe mi aiuti a rimanere viva.