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Meditations in Lucca: Stillness


First just allow any thoughts to pass, and be still
Be aware of where you are now…
Feel the body…
Connect with the place where the feet touch the ground…
Feel the touch of the clothes on the skin…
And of the air on the hands and face…
Just connect with the sense of smell…
See the shapes and colours in front of you…
Just listen to all the sounds…
Those nearby and those faraway…
Connect with the silence that surrounds and upholds all the sounds…
Just stay with that.

This is how we celebrate our “being” each morning at Villa Boccella in Lucca, with a 30-minute morning meditation. We stay at the meditation hall, which is made of terracotta tiles that are already tarnished; its ground floor is a wine cellar. I am always seated opposite the window, where I can see the greenness of the mountains right after I open my eyes. Not all the Lucca participants are here. Only those who could wake up early; or those who just want to practice meditation with our circle of friends will join. There are those who spend their quiet time jogging or walking about this vast land with vineyard, olive groves, and orchards of peaches, plums, and figs.

I wake up everyday at around 5am, where everybody is still fast asleep. I have to wake up early since meditation is at 6am. I also want to take a shower early because it takes me longer time to finish. I have to wash my hair with cold water, and my body with luke warm water. I can actually wake up at later time but then I also have to consider my roommates—Rosy and Claire—who also need to take a shower after me since we only have two showers in our room.

Whenever I am out of the country, I find it really delightful to wake up early. There is a need to bask in the soft light of the first ray, to feel the coolness of the morning dew on the leaves and the grass, and to breathe the air that only this country can give. Since my stay is always short, I make sure that I breathe the air that gave life to the masters of this country like Lucca's famous composer, Puccini. And every morning, I feel like singing. Every country has its own colour, has its own feel, and has its own taste. Lucca’s air is suffused with the flavors of the surrounding orchards and cypress and oak trees of the Garfagna mountains. The area is also surrounded by villas and farm houses in Colonial, Italian Renaissance, and Country architectural designs, to name a few. There is a touch of both classy and contemporary everywhere you look.

By the time I'm dressed, I will then open the window opposite my bed. The moist on the window feels cold. I always open it wide to see the gradual movement of the sun’s rays and the changing hues of the trees outside. I am facing the mountain range that encircled this very villa. I pause for awhile to admire it and see how the rest of the world is moving. Foucault was right in his pendulum and that fixed point. I am still for several moments, the fixed point that can see everything around, and this stillness would be gracefully perturbed by the singing of birds somewhere, like a still pond disturbed by the breath of fish creating ripples, vibrations. It is my signal to go down and be part of the group ritual.

We practice stillness not just every morning but every time we start or finish our activity. The facilitators call it “stops”. Practicing stillness, once or twice a day, as our program director says makes one an effective leader because it gives time for the body and the mind to recuperate from stress and complexities of daily life. It helps rejuvenate the self, which helps you develop your emotional intelligence. Stillness is an important element in all art, as what the Japanese people believe which they call MA. And leadership is an art, is it not? After all, we are here in Lucca for the transformational leadership course; to become responsible human beings for the self and the society, and to be come servants for the betterment of the world.

Often times we are asked what we feel during meditation, and I say time and again that I feel good because in this kind of meditation, the senses are heightened. You don’t only feel the beat of your heart but you can actually hear it. You can hear the core of your being, the one that first signaled you’re alive in your mother’s womb. And then you realize, you are truly connected to yourself and the world, the one Ackerman calls, “the umbilical cord of sounds”. This sound, in the mother’s womb, as she explains, is the one used by the ultrasound device to create the picture of the baby inside. It is not surprising that it is the sound, “first was word”, that fashioned this world. And in your moment of silence, you hear that stillness, that OM sound, that primeval vibration that is present everywhere and at anytime. Then you feel light, lighter, as if you betray the law of gravity as you are deeply in touch with the sound within and without. This is the lightness of being in the moment of stillness; this is levitation in another sense. Silence is both time and space. When Sir Francis Bacon says that “all colours will agree in the dark”, and so do all the sounds agree in silence. All sounds rest in silence.

In one of the final activities, we are given sometime to think and reflect on the things that we love most. When we share about our reflection, it is not hard for me to search that thing because it is just natural to say that we love our family , friends, and the things that we give importance to. But then I ask myself what else? My answer, the one I love most, is stillness because it is the “I” and anything that’s connected to it.




Anette Leslie's picture

Beautiful article Katea. I

Beautiful article Katea.

I miss your picture on the site. Such adorable beauty. I miss you.


katea's picture

awww thank you

Hi Anette,
Thank you for reading my article. It's good to know you liked it. With my other picture, I accidentally deleted it. Hehe. Hope to read more of your posts!

take care!


Poverty is man-made that we can undo.

Tina's picture


I'm glad your picture is back too...

katea's picture

Oh no!

Haha! Oh no, Tina! "If a picture paints a thousand words"...then, I guess, so be it. I'm quite squeamish though when I upload my picture cos it's so open. But for WorldPulse, I think it's ok. :)

Poverty is man-made that we can undo.

JaniceW's picture

Stillness captured

Katea, what a beautiful picture of serenity you created. I have no doubt that many members will read this and take a moment to appreciate the stillness in their lives. With so many demands pulling at our sleeves each day, it is easy to forget to nurture one's soul. As women, we are so conditioned to take care of others that we can easily neglect ourselves in the process. I would love for you to continue sharing the techniques you have learned so that others may learn how to lead through mindfulness and development of our emotional intelligence. Whether you are a farmer in Kenya, a mother in Fiji, a office worker in Romania or a teacher in the United States, I think we can all learn how to be more mindful of ourselves and to use that awareness to be better leaders in our communities. Thank you for the insightful post.

katea's picture

i love hearing from you:)

I know that most of us work towards peace and equality. I believe this state of peace and equality can be achieved both externally and internally. But I believe it should start from within, that awareness, stillness, and then we can project it outside, to the world. If you want to heal the world, you must heal yourself first. This is what I'm trying to do, however difficult. Even winter, spring, and summer are still when fall is here. :)

I would like to share whatever it is that can be useful.


Poverty is man-made that we can undo.

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