Hello and welcome to the second part of the story of my personal journey into the world of mindfulness and meditation.
After a couple of years I was training Shorinji Kempo in Turin and meditating more regularly after training sessions and on my own I decided to partecipate to a university program called "Double degree" which would take me to Barcelona, Spain to finish my studies there.
I left Turin in the summer of 2004 and went to Barcelona to look for a flat together with a friend of mine. Funnily enough that was the first time I ever traveled to Spain.
In Barcelona I had a very tiny single room all for my self. I could not stretch my arms wide without having to open the door but I had a small space where I could close the door and meditate. I found out that due to my very active mind I had to sit quietly for at least 45 mins or one hour before I could really feel a deep sense of inner peace. At that time I was doing silent sitting meditation, observing my breath, watching my body sensations and needless to say, after one hour sitting my legs tended to become numb which wasn't very pleasant.
Once I got my Degree I chose to travel in SE Asia for a while to relax and to prepare for the next stage of my life. It was many years I wanted to travel outside of Europe and one of my closest friends at the time, Rafael, suggested I should go to Thailand because of my passion in Thai boxing.
It sounded like a great idea and around one month after I got the degree I was on a one-way flight to Bangkok. Needless to say I visited a number of Buddhist temples and in some occasions I spoke with Buddhist monks who sometimes organized small gathering for foreigners to answer questions about Buddhism, their experience as monks and meditation.
In a couple of occasions I joined group meditation session in Buddhist temples: they were silent sitting or walking meditation, which I particularly enjoyed because it consists of walking very slowly and observing the sensations coming from your feet. It's particularly challenging especially for beginners and that's why I always propose this kind of techniques in my courses.
More than the practice itself I think that trip to SE Asia in which I visited Thailand and Laos served me well to start to know the Asian culture and religions, their way of life and way of seeing the world, even if briefly because I didn't speak their language. Overall the main thing I observed is that the feeling I had while there was radically different compared to being over here in Europe, for some reason I felt that meditating was easier or - maybe better said - the place itself supported the activity in a non-tangible way. It's difficult to explain because it's a very personal feeling.
As a curiosity, the place where I went often to have a spiced chai and read was a cafeteria in the garden of a Wat Suan Dok, a Buddhist temple in the Thai city where I resided for three months, Chiang mai. I spent some time looking for that cafeteria on Google maps and it seems it's not there anymore, sadly.
An important thing that I did around that time is I bought several second-hand books about Oriental religions and philosophies: I remember reading a book about the Hari Krishna movement and an Osho book.
I hope you enjoyed this part of the story and stay tuned for the following ones :)