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Is it true that we cannot be a better version of ourselves? Is it true that as human beings we cannot reach wholeness authentically? Is it true that we cannot be and give more than what we think we have been and given in the past? All of these questions are wondering in my mind right now and today, when a year has gone by, I’m trying to look for some answers within the memories of my time spent at the Awakened Life Project on the Transformation Intensive…
And when I arrived back to Colombia everybody kept on asking: “What happened to you?”, “You look different did you lose weight?”, “You look brighter did you do something to your hair?”
No, I hadn’t done anything to my hair and yes I had probably lost a couple of pounds. Truth is, I had just arrived from the most life changing experience that anyone can have and, therefore, the evolution in me was becoming evident to those who really knew me.
It all started when my friends and me started looking for a place in which we could make a research for our theses project. We were deeply interested in understanding the concept of living in community and sustainability. What seemed to be a great eco-village in the north of Portugal was practically perfect to develop our research and so we just went for it…. We could have never imagined what we were going to find in that place and what was going to happen next...yes it really was a Transformation Intensive!
Everything was challenged at the Quinta da Mizarela, the hub of the Awakened Life Project. Firstly my body: especially for someone so not used to going up and down a hill for 4 to 5 times a day! Then my stomach: eating raw food for the first time and detoxifing from the amount of junk eaten in the past, was not so comfortable. And above all, the lack of contact with external civilization and events: not having any phone signal or Internet access 24/7 was actually pretty hard.
But all of that was nothing compared to what was seriously challenged… my ego!
I use to perceive ego as this characteristic of an annoying and selfish human being that made him or her unbearable in societies. But nobody had explained it to me in such a clear and yet implicating way: we are not human beings with defects that allow ourselves to make mistakes and be egoic once in a while (in fact, that is the perfect excuse to hide the truth). We are individuals that voluntarily decide to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world when our actions are coming from ego. Our will determines what we choose to do and therefore we are entirely responsible for all that we cause. But what then is EGO? That’s a hard word to define and once you get it, there’s no way back. Ego is my fear; ego is my lack of healthy self-confidence, my conviction of limitation. Ego is all of those behaviors that keep me from showing to the rest of the world what I really am. Ego is all of those things that inhibit my True Self and keep me locked inside.
Understanding this revealing fact was one step further that I had taken, but a different one was to actually stop having those behaviors. I can tell you now that it wasn’t easy. It’s not easy to stop doing something that you were not conscious of. Something so “stuck” to your mind. But I can also tell you that at least for a couple of moments or weeks I was able to do it. There were days in which nothing was covering my True Self and only then I understood the value of it all. i discovered a freedom from the habitual patterns of mind, and the ecstatic liberation of my heart, soul, and being. For a couple of months, in that place, in that community and surrounded by each of its amazing members, I was authentic and I felt free. That was something beautiful that I will never forget.
But unfortunately, when it was all ending, I had to live a painful experience: I lost a close member of my family and I was miles away from home. I lost my sister Ana and only now do I understand the importance of me being there at the Project while receiving this news. I haven’t told this to anyone yet but through my whole stay at the Quinta I kept on feeling that something was going to happen. I kept on feeling that so much evolution in me could not be taken for granted. Since the first day I felt that I was being prepared for something and today I can say that in fact I was. Only when we live authentically (understanding the implications of that word), do we learn to give new meaning to these kinds of situations in life. These people and this Project had somehow given me the tools to overcome a tragedy; to be the strength that my family members felt they needed; and above all: to learn that I can transmit and manifest the presence of Ana through my True Self when I decide to do so.
When we learn the extent of truly surrendering to God then it all becomes clear. Because then, we understand that our purpose in life is greater than the fact of simply existing as human beings. I’m a catholic and now I can say that no matter what the belief, the cultural background, the religion or the spiritual inclination, it all goes down to that one simple true fact: when we feel that longing not only with the heart but also with the mind and conscience and we start living coherently in alignment with that call of God, then we will experience true freedom.
So I came back to my hometown Bogota. I took with me everything I learned and I plan to hold on to it for as long as I possibly can. I will take every challenge that this life can bring and will overcome it as authentically as I know that I am capable of. I’m a designer and now I know that I can actually help others through my profession and lead them to that same experience that once I was lucky to have. I’m fully aware of the fact that if I follow my heart through that path I will allow myself the extraordinary freedom that the True Self brings into my life. A freedom that God wants me to experience.
All of these conclusions have risen through a never-ending journey that I started when I committed myself to a spiritual life as a catholic. I have discovered many great things since then, but I can definitely say that the time spent at the Awakened Life Project helped me to connect many dots that until then, I wasn’t able to put together. This amazing community answered many questions and filled many holes. It lightened that darkness within me. It gave me hope and it made me a much more stronger and confident woman. For all of that and more I am grateful to them and I hope that someday I can be able to go back to that place that awakened me in such wonderful ways.
Dani Restrepo Ortiz, Colombia