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Meet Ashram residents
Currently, we are an international community of 16 residents
I spent my teenage years completely lost in my insecurities and a sense of feeling worthless. I was full of shame for who I was, for my identity, my physical appearance was not fulfilling the stereotype of how an attractive man should be, I wasn't as strong and fearless as a man should be. I was sensitive and I could perceive what somebody else was feeling but I didn't like to have that quality. That's not how the "real" men around me were behaving. I was a mess. Emotionally unstable and continuously collapsing into a sense of not being good enough. Continuously looking for external affirmation to feel ok. I became a master manipulator, lying to receive approval, never really facing reality nor myself, covering up my flaws to look like somebody I wasn't. My life was completely busy trying to survive with that sense of failure.
I gave myself to my career and became a very successful IT Sales Engineer earning over 100k€ per year in my early 30s. But even then the sense of not being good enough was still there. It seemed as if something was always missing, no matter what.
It was time to make a big shift in my life.
I have spent the last 5 years of my life living at the Ashram of The Awakened Life Project in Portugal where I finally found the guidance and the supportive environment that I was looking for.
A space in which I can be myself without any masks and be accepted for who I am. A space in which I learn to trust. A space in which I finally allowed myself to surrender to God, to be an expression of real strength, being vulnerable in the face of insecurity without avoiding it nor collapsing into it. And now that's what my life is about; to keep embodying as a real expression of God and to be of service. That is where I keep finding real joy.
My vision and passion is to support new generations of men in finding their True Self, in being authentic, discovering and expressing their full potential and putting it at service of the community they live in. I want to be that guide that I needed when I was young but I never had.
A bit more about myself: I am Italian, I also speak Spanish and English fluently and I am learning Portuguese. Last year I got married to an amazing Portuguese woman. We have a beautiful dog and we share a tiny house which we designed and built with lots of love. What I am most passionate about is finding out what is true in every moment beyond my own beliefs.
I started a journey into the depth of my being seeking for ways to deal with my depression and anxiety. I started by listening to the first teachings of non-duality by Allan Watts. It was when I was 28 years old that I finally found The Awakened Life Project. I started listening to their teachings and I just knew that I have found what I was looking for. More than everything, I felt super attracted to the possibility of being part of a family that supports my evolution.
I remember the first time I came to Quinta da Mizarela. People were smiling and I felt an intense ease of being in the air. After participating in a retreat I felt like I found my home, not just the physical home but a deeper recognition of pure freedom and love.
I knew this Project was for real and I knew I was on the right path. I felt I was protected, not because I was comfortable, but because I could recognise that these people just wanted to be happy and true.
Since then all the challenges I had to go through came to me and all the support I needed also arrived in the right time.
Right now I feel I already have a lot to give back to the world and I'm still just getting started. I'm learning every day to go deeper and deeper into the exploration of what it means to live a life beyond ego, in love with the mystery, being love, being God, being together with other God lovers. The more we dive deep, the more we feel in touch with the inherent love that we all are as humanity. We feel the pain of the world together and we fight to bring love to humanity the best we can do. We cry together, we smile together; we hug each other with the certainty that together we are stronger, being courageous to be ourselves and to give form to whatever wants to be manifested in this world. I know limitation is not real and that there is only one Heart here. I fight every day to make that the principle on which my life is based. I don't want to be anything else than myself, my True Self, the Spiritual Heart that animates everything.
How did I end up here? That's a question I'm asking myself regularly and it opens my heart to such an extent that it makes me smile and cry at the same time! It's difficult to even grasp what is happening here. But I know that I don't want to be anywhere else. The first time I came to the Ashram of the Awakened Life Project was in April 2019. I just finished my studies in Chemical Biology and the only thing that I wanted to do is to get out. I wanted to see the world, I wanted to be different, I wanted to find something that would make me happy because I realized slowly that what I was doing the years before wasn't really it!
I didn't know a lot about spirituality, meditation practice or communal life even though I committed for three months to be a volunteer in the Ashram. Very soon I realized deeply in my heart that it was IT. Something was drawing me in. I acknowledged that I found what I was always looking for. I finally started to see. I finally started to open up. I finally started to breath and release myself from the constant contraction that I was walking around with without even noticing. I started to feel more, I started to talk more and to engage more. I started to show myself in the face of strongly felt fear, terror and anger. I started to understand what it really means to communicate and to be in relationship with someone. How does it work to truly communicate without coming from a place of rejection and retaliation, while feeling everything that is arising in every moment?
The more I dived into the teaching after joining the Sangha later on in the year of 2019, the more I understood about ego and the more I could see through the illusion of separateness. The more I learned about the Absolute Truth of Freedom Here and Now that Cynthia was pointing out over and over again, the more I could sink into who I truly was and express myself in unexpected ways.
I started to fall in love with Freedom more and more until I finally decided to become a resident in 2020. I realized that there wasn't anything else to do, anything else to seek for because I already knew that this was the place where I wanted to live. This is the life that I want to live. I embraced the challenge of going beyond limitations, expectations, false beliefs and arrogance and ever since there was no way back. I realized ever deeply that it wasn't about me. I realized that I didn't know anything. This place is about forgetting who I thought I was. It is about unraveling the knot everyone feels since being thrown into this world of manifest existence. It is about responding to what life is giving you. It is about serving without getting anything out of it. And in that everything is flowering, shining, created, opened and loved.
What blows me away again and again is how easy it can be to live in community if everyone is willing to drop their weapons and preconceived ideas, to really be together beyond preference. In that, everything is possible. It's unbelievable what we're able to create and do here when everyone is just giving themselves and simultaneously forgetting themselves! We're creating a new culture together where the fundamental Truth of Non-Duality is lived in communion. What does it mean to realize God? I have no idea, but I'm willing to find out and stretch until the last little link is blown apart into ecstatic bliss!
Currently I'm part of the Maintenance Team of the Quinta, building and fixing things. I love this job because it demands an open awareness of things that need to be done. I love when it gets creative. But it can also get smelly when the grey water system is blocked again! Luckily there is always something to laugh about. Everyday I'm finding out what it takes to live on the side of a mountain.
I joined ALP in 2013 and since then have given my whole life for this collective emergence. Where else is there to go, once you find everything you were ever looking for?
Before I came to that realisation, life was about surviving the stress and anxiety that was my daily experience. Nonstop heart racing, shyness and unhappiness was the result of a young life lived to fit in and to belong. I learned to be a financial assistant for reasons only to have a secure job and switched afterwards to studying Geoecology only to understand that this will not save the world or myself either. It was all the same corrupt system and it was too much for me. There was a day in 2011 where I vowed to myself that I will not settle for a mediocre life. The only road map that there is to follow is the one of the hearts truth. In that moment something opened up and I was free enough to step out of my own cage. The door had been open all along and now I saw that it was so. I finished my university degree not brave enough yet to just throw away it although I knew this would not be my path, and went on to search for truth and what life is about. Pretty soon I found the Awakened Life Project and knew this is it! I arrived and now the real journey and the real work began. It has been an utterly humbling and softening journey. I discovered friendship, love and care like never before. The more layers are shed the more I get to know myself. The joy that I believe is inherent in all of us, expresses itself more and more in deep belly laughter while my head is thrown back – oh how I love that! I never thought life could be so simple and yet so full at the same time.
The vision and teaching has been continuously piercing through false beliefs, misunderstandings and conditionings to the point that I became a more functioning human being. And by that I mean, that I went from being compulsively self concerned and self obsessed with how I am feeling, to actually being joyfully available to life demands and to what wants to emerge in every moment. I love this project because it is very simple in its teaching and yet very radical. My teachers Cynthia and Pete walk their talk and continuously grow and evolve and are the inspiration for me and the Sangha (Spiritual Community) and together we are constantly thriving for what we don't know yet.
The vision is big! Being a conscious and active participant in the evolution of consciousness is like constantly glimpsing the edge of what I don't know. Doing this collectively open hearted, open minded is erasing century old structures of belief systems and conditioning. What I see happening more and more is that collectively we and I are shifting our focus from a me-centred vision to a we-centred vision without losing the individual conscious awareness. And this is happening because of the effort of every single one of us. This is what I have given my life to. This is why I am part of ALP and this is thrilling beyond anything! To me life is no longer to find my personal Nirvana and get enlightened. But to find out what is actually possible when a collective of people is coming together endeavoring to create a new culture based on the understanding and knowledge that our true nature is always already free.
To dive even deeper into this experiment, I decided to move with my husband Joel to the Ashram Quinta da Mizarela in spring 2019. I am very grateful and honored to have the opportunity to live and learn with Cynthia and the other residents. Life in the Ashram is diverse and calls for different responses at different times. I am co-leading the kitchen department with Joel and also co-leading the housekeeping department. Besides that I like to organise the service for retreats.
Bom Dia! I am Jana, and I have been part of the Awakened Life Project for a bit over 2 years. Before I arrived I studied educational studies in Germany, and the first time I came to the Quinta da Mizarela was in spring of 2019 to visit my girlfriend at that time, who was a volunteer at the Quinta. The moment I arrived I was mesmerized by the place. It is very magical because there is something in the air here, which I sensed from the beginning. It is a mix of peaceful calmness where I can just feel myself unravel and relax, and at the same time there is a sparkling passionate creativity which you can see in the eyes of everyone living here and in all the little details of things being taken care of.
And after my stay I came back, and I kept coming back. Then in a retreat I followed the call to the simple question "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" The answer came straight from my heart and it was: "I would move to the Quinta!" So I did.
Since living here, more and more layers of protection are crumbling, and I constantly feel I am in a process in which I love, contract, see through something, relax, enjoy, contract and relax again. The more I let go, the more God takes over. It astonishes me that I do not have to do anything - yet everything in my conditioning wants to do something. But how amazing is that: That I do not have to do anything, literally nothing, and everything unfolds perfectly. Sometimes it feels so rocky and messy, and I do not know what is going on. Then some situation or talk happens and suddenly it all makes sense. I love the Mystery of it, it is really magical how these things happen.
I love getting more and more in touch with devotion, which is still relatively new to me. In my devotion to God, or you could say to this Truth which I felt right from the beginning, I forget myself. I leave my ideas and desires behind and just give for the sake of giving, work together with everyone, and what emerges between us when everyone is doing the same is simply amazing. I keep experiencing this on retreats, but where I was blown away the most was when we organized a wedding last summer. We gave our hearts and bodies fully, and never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined how beautiful everything turned out. And this to me was quite outstanding, and showed me (and all of us) what is possible when we don't limit what's possible.
Here at the Quinta I live in my campervan a bit further up the track. I love this place a lot and made myself a cozy home. I am exploring my love for nature's natural medicines, and more and more I allow myself to trust in my intuition and knowledge. What comes out is healing tinctures, oils and salves. It brings me great joy, and I want to explore it more because I am convinced that what nature has to offer can be deeply healing for the body and the whole being. I am also very passionate about making healthy desserts and making yummy dishes for everyone.
I feel like all my life I had these phases of doing this for a while and then that for a while, being interested in this for some time, and then starting something new. Now, living here I am so blown away because all of my passions and interests have room to be explored, and miraculously come together. The opportunities may have always been there, but I never dared to go anywhere close to where I dare to go now because I always used to hold myself back because of fear or whatever ideas. Dancing, acting, singing, speaking - I feel that the more I unravel this imagined knot of self-contraction, the more I allow myself to express freely. And it is so refreshing, challenging at times and déeply fulfilling.
In short: I love the mystery that has guided me here, and I want more.
For many years I've been a passionate wanderer- I 've been seeking relentlessly, without even knowing at first that I was seeking- or even what it is that I was seeking- All I knew is that nothing was ever enough, and anything else had to be better than what I had-
And, as I kept seeking, it slowly dawned on me that it was 'me' the one being sought. My own search was not my 'own' to begin with, but a wake up call to open my eyes, stop, love and be loved; An invitation to heartbreak, drop the insistence, bow the head and recognize that in truth I am the One I've ever been looking for, the only One that ever was loved and the only One that could ever be found!
I came across the Awakened Life Project in 2014; First as a passionate co-creator of a social, cultural and spiritual experiment called 'Avidanja' during 4 years, and now as a resident manager at the Quinta da Mizarela, the spiritual heart of our project.
My interest has always been in participating building communities that would take on that 'recognition' as a starting point, and take responsibility for it in all dimensions of existence- not only individually but collectively. Coming together in such a way that the veil of limitation and separation would simply fade, and in its place the true face of our single reality could emerge as one love, one heart and one humanity.
Nothing less than creating a new culture on earth, a culture that encompasses the deepest dimension of who we are and reaches out in all aspects of our relations, a culture that seriously and with integrity meets the critical demand of our time to take on an unprecedented evolutionary leap.
Will we dare to stand for the heart? Will we take on that courageous step that the world is screaming for us to take? Will we get real once and for all about our truest nature and take responsibility for a world 'our heart knows is possible'? Will we care to dare and dare to care?
Together at the awakened life project we are committed to work towards that mighty possibility. I found here a family, a deep homecoming. and the opportunity to live a life of purpose and meaning. With the support of my brothers and sister we can look and see through the veil of our misconceptions, fears and limitations.. Yet, we are dedicated to walk nothing but the ground of freedom that we are and from where limitless possibilities come forth.
From a young age, I asked myself "Who am I?" "Who are we?" and "Why are we here?"
These questions led me to travel Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa, working as an Intensive Therapy nurse, experiencing different cultures and ways of life, which left me curiously unfulfilled and still searching. I returned to my native England where I trained as a yoga teacher, spiritual healer and studied a Masters in Psychosynthesis, a psychospiritual psychology that recognizes each one of us has a transpersonal essence, or Self, and that our opportunity in life is to manifest this Self as fully as possible. The most natural progression for me to foster my ongoing process of growth, and manifestation of Self, was to meditate and participate in meditation retreats.
I was first attracted to the Awakened Life Project by participating in a women's Retreat, where I came to realize my deepest nature is untouched by any experience or anything that's happened in time, and that I am Consciousness itself. Happiness and ecstatic joy being my true nature. This realization, or awakening process, led me to move to the Awakened Life Project Ashram which I see as my Spiritual Home.
I am a member of the kitchen team, the household department and laundry. I am passionate about following my heart's longing for ever deeper relationships, to act with dignity, wisdom and love, to live a community life surrounded by nature, and to further surrender to the Mystery of Life.
I have been living at the Awakened Life Project Ashram for almost 11 years, I was one of the first people to commit to helping Pete and Cynthia make the vision of ALP a reality. My greatest passion in life is for Truth. So when, all those years ago, I found Pete and Cynthia living and teaching Spiritual Freedom in the stunning Mizarela valley I found my teachers and my home.
I take care of the land especially the trees - fruit and forest - and am happiest planting or pruning trees. I have a love of bees, 'keeping' them not for honey but to provide a sanctuary where they can thrive. I also work with local people on ecosystem and community regeneration projects. Apart from the other Quinta residents I have amazing companions in the form of dogs Missi and Balu and a panther disguised as a cat called Jasper and Leo.
After having completed my graduation in naturopathy, I felt dissatisfied with theoretical knowledge. I thus decided to open up to new experiences and explored the world of permaculture, eco villages and communities. As time passed I realized I was yearning for much more than what these nice and alternative places could offer. I always had the feeling that my life was about following a thread and in that way I discovered the Awakened Life Project. My heart's longing for raw honesty, depth, intimacy and overwhelming ecstasy melted as I first found the project in 2018.
And after spending the last 2 years in my native Italy where I got involved in projects trying to "to change the world" I surrendered to the truth that there is no real stable change without going beyond ego. I moved permanently to the Quinta da Mizarela Ashram to live a life of communion with the Mystery surrounded by my teacher..
Here I am part of the kitchen department where I love to create delicious recipes, to prepare herbal teas or to take care of the flourishing vegetable garden.
I am also passionate about serving other women's conscious embodiment through sharing their experience and knowledge around women's health and the menstrual cycle.
Originally from Brussels, Belgium, I am now settled at the Awakened Life Project's Ashram - where together with my teacher and fellow residents I strive to create a new culture based on trust. Here I'm learning how to love and to bow down to the mystery.
My insatiable curiosity led me to studying philosophy and some electronic music production. I traveled a lot, I sat in long meditation retreats, I experimented with psychedelics. I read about pretty much everything I could find. I worked as a model, as a fundraiser, as barman, as a restaurant manager. Despite many attempts, I couldn't fit in. I was desperate. I was thirsty and intuited that there was more to life than the the consensus reality had to offer yet I was disoriented and felt short on perseverance
In 2017 I became part of the Awakened Life Project. In learning how to be vulnerable with other people whose primary passion is Freedom here and now, my heart blew open and my ideas about Spirituality were shattered. I realized that the frenetic piling up of experiences I was into was a way of seeking relief from the complexities of life and that embracing the pain and complexity of it is in fact where true Spiritual maturity lies.
Today as a co creator of this grand experiment called the Awakened Life Project I happily give myself to this ever learning process made of struggles and breakthroughs. I nurture a growing passion to work with men to help them grow beyond their limiting conditionings such as the need of being loved, the lack of purpose, the fear of being strong, among others, thus assisting men in the process of embodying their natural one-pointedness, integrity and capacity to love without fear.
At the Ashram I work mainly as a volunteer and retreat coordinator. I very much enjoy dipping in the cold waters, running around the surrounding hills and strumming a few jazzy chords on my guitar when I find the time.
I grew up in a rural fishing village in Ireland with beaches, green fields and trees. After suffering with an eating disorder and depression in my teens I began asking more and more questions about the mindset and worldview I had inherited. Inspired by the freedom of emotional expression I saw in musicians I studied Western Classical Music. I then decided to travel- compelled to experience different worldviews and different lifestyles and leave behind as many of the "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" of my inner narrative as I could. After 9 months backpacking and couch surfing around Europe I realized I was drawn to study Yoga and meditation in India and spent 2 years saving money as a music teacher in Paris, France to make the journey. Originally, the trip to India was to last 1 year but this stretched into 2 years and gradually morphed into something completely different as I realized I didn't want to go back to a "normal" 9-5 lifestyle. I started searching for a community of like-minded people who wished to live together beyond the normal social "scripts" society runs. The Awakened Life Project was one of the first I visited and after one year, in May 2018 I joined the Sangha and became a resident of the Ashram. I am now head of the Garden Department and I am in the process of setting up a music school in the locality.
Originally from Saint Petersburg, Russia I traveled around the world and lived in different cities such as San Francisco and Lisbon.
An invisible thread of intuition and love for ever-newness brought me to the Awakened Life Project in 2018, where I participated in a silent meditation retreat. There I got deeply touched by the profundity of Being I came in contact with. Since then, not only a strong meditation practice became the foundation of my life but I also joined the Awakened Life Project's Sangha and Women's Creative. I currently reside at the Awakened Life Project Ashram to live a life of service, to face my illusions and to explore the nature of reality together with like-minded people.
In contrast to the rush of jazzy city life, I resonate with the raw nature of Portuguese mountains. I find a peaceful joy in silent walks and in engaging with physical work at the Ashram. As an architect and artist, I am often involved with various creative and design related tasks the project is in need of wherein I express my passion to manifest the unimaginable in a tangible form while living in simplicity, freedom and truth.
Up until 4 years ago I led a cosmopolitan life in the city of Lisbon. Drawn to art and with a background in marketing, I felt at ease in a busy city full of human interactions.
Yet something called me to search for something more authentic and more fulfilling. Thus I quit my job and went to the countryside where I came across permaculture, natural building and meditation projects. Those experiences shed light on the possibility to live differently and in communion with nature.
After a life-changing retreat at Quinta da Mizarela, I realized that beyond the connection with nature I wanted to live in communion with my heart and deep relationships.
Soon after I became a member of the Awakened Life Sangha and moved to Avidanja, a satellite project which turned out to be my home for almost 2 years. There I opened up to a life of no limitation and authentic relationships.
Realizing how much I wanted to give myself to my awakening process and how passionate I am about learning and sharing my experience with others led me to move to the Awakened Life Project Ashram where I am now settled.
Here I learn how to live the teachings on a daily basis in relationship with the whole community as well as how to help others take responsibility for their own maturation process. I am also an active part of Evolusa, an outshoot project of the Awakened Life Project where I lead the design department.
I used to imagine and dream about a place... a place where I really could be without any contraction or withholding, a place where only transparency, truth, unity and love was expressed, a place where the Heart speaks through all conditions and where I could really rest and be in real relationships without any limitations.
Part of me believed that this only could be true in my imagination or dreams, or that a place like that could not happen in this society, or that real Happiness and Freedom lived with true transparency, vulnerability and presence could not realistically be expressed between people in this world.
In 2017 something pulled me to this Project and Quinta da Mizarela and the feeling was very strong! It was a feeling of "This is It", this is what my heart is longing for! Here I found real commitment to an Awakened Life and a true expression of real Freedom and somehow eventually I had the feeling that now the puzzle is "complete"! Not in the sense that something was missing but in the sense of a pure recognition of what we really are and what life is really about.
So now here I am following my Heart, even if sometimes I don't know what this fully means, but that really doesn't matter! I feel myself open to Life in a different way, a real openness to the Unknown and to being in the service of something Greater than "me", being fully available with all my Heart and willing to go beyond the mind.
Living at the Quinta, the Ashram of the Awakened Life Project, is the response that emerges in every moment and I'm very happy and grateful to have the opportunity to live here.
This is far more than a beautiful place, it is a collective organism that is fully engaged with the pure expression of the True Self that we all ultimately are.
Here only One Heart speaks Here only One Collective emerges Here only One Consciousness manifest itself Be together Face the fire Fully engage Unity is our form Love is our essence Surrender is the way
Looking back over the years since my first retreat with the Awakened Life Project in 2017, I am overcome with gratitude and amazement for how much I have changed: I am softer and stronger. I am in touch with a deep care and love for life and less cut-off. And I am less afraid to take responsibility and manifest my full potential, which means being available to what is unfolding in every moment.
Before I joined the project, I was convinced I was happy and doing well. While there was some truth to that, it was mainly an unconscious story I told myself in order to stay in my superficial and safe bubble. Yes its true that I had fun and was successful in my career as a Molecular Biologist and worked in interesting research projects in the US, New Zealand and Sweden. I also fell in love with traveling, took long periods between jobs to explore the world, sail the oceans and volunteer for a wide range of tasks and projects. Sounds like a happy story or not?
Even as I was convinced that my nomadic lifestyle was my preference and my choice, I started to glimpse how much I actually yearned to settle and to belong. As I held on to my freedom and independence, I was closing myself to relationships and people in general, and it started to dawn on me that something needed to change.
Without fully grasping what, I came to the Awakened Life Project as a volunteer and found like-minded people and a community to share a life of integrity and love. Since then, I became a member and eventually a resident at the project's ashram. Under the guidance of my teachers Cynthia Lea Rose and Peter Bampton, I slowly acknowledged to myself that this shared commitment to truth is my heart's deepest longing.
As I become more aware of my fear based motivations and actions, I see how much I have been denying myself the beauty of life. As I open my heart to love and pain and allow myself to feel more, I continue to fall in love with people and to relating with each other with joy, freshness and vulnerability.
My passion for love is rooted in the truth of non-duality and prior freedom: We are all one Consciousness and no matter what my life situation is, fundamentally I am always already free. I am committed to explore how to live every-day life and relationships from this ground. And I am honored and thrilled to be part of this new culture.
As a resident at Quinta da Mizarela, I am leading the maintenance department. I make sure that our small off-grid village is running smoothly and supervise all necessary repair and building tasks.
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