Blog Post #3 6-25-12: Nucleo Life

Here’s a long over-due blog post, so by way of making an excuse for letting time fly without posting, I will first describe the experience of time here in Damanhur. I’ve been so swept up in my experiences here, that this blog has not been written yet. When I asked a friend at my nucleo about the way time seems to speed by, she said that is because people intentionally create “complexity” in their lives here. They have many activities in their lives which are stimulating, and connected in a web with one another and with other people – what she calls “complexity”. Not “complicated”, the way it seems many people’s lives are in America – many responsibilities that are not interconnected and that make us feel overwhelmed. Here people’s lives are filled with what the psychologist Csikszentmihaly calls “flow experiences”. A flow experience is “a challenge that is engaging and makes the person not aware of the passage of time”. Csikzentmihaly describes people who live in communities with connection as having lives filled with flow experience. In a nutshell, that seems to be a primary purpose of Damanhur – having lives that are filled with meaningful, interconnected experiences. Some people feel like people’s lives here are too filled up, but it seems like most Damanhurians feel their lives are just the right amount of filled up. They have their work, they have their nucleo responsibilities, they have their spiritual activities, they can participate in various paths of personal change and improvement, and they can volunteer in various ways.
When we first arrived here, we had several people tell us about their experiences with “synchrony”. The best way of making this a pleasant experience, we were told, it to relax and let things happen in whatever way that life unfolds. When I would notice I was rushing to get to a class on time, I would just relax and it seems like every time someone from my nucleo would be leaving at the exact time I started to walk, and I’d get a ride that would get me to my destination right on time. As I met people, I would find out about just the right connections which would help me in my explorations of my interests here. The more clear that I would have a vision of what I wanted, the more the synchronous events would help me out. I’ve always felt like “lucky Chuckie”, but it seems like that synchronicity is enhanced in this part of the world. Maybe the synchrony is also related to living in a community where there is connectedness and Flow.
I’ve been living in one of the two dozen nucleos that make up the Federation of Damanhur. Each nucleo has approximately two dozen people living in it – they are typically restored farmhouses located throughout the Valchiusella Valley. Judy has joined me in the New Life program, and our nucleo is called “Cornucopia”, with 21 adults and 3 children. Each person or couple has a bedroom, and there are large common-use rooms for food preparation, eating, office work, meeting/watching television, children’s play, laundry, and food and commodities storage. Judy uses the meeting room for her yoga, since it’s only used sometimes in the evenings. Our nucleo used to have its focus as the “hospitality nucleo”, and still has a restaurant at the main center for businesses, rents extra rooms to guests at Damanhur, and serves large groups of Damanhur Visitors who want the experience of a nucleo dinner or lunch, often in combination with a course taught by our nucleo . The food IS excellent, and there is as much as I want to eat at every lunch and dinner. My only saving grace is that I’m working very hard gardening here and on my “compus” (group service work) so I’m staying trim and fit, despite the delicious “Cornucopia” of food. Judy is also working hard and we both are doing a lot of walking up and down the mountain. Our nucleo is a short walk down the mountain to the main business center, and another longer walk to the Damanhur community center. The system for getting rides here it to wait next to a “synchronous ride” sign, and the reality is there is always a ride when it seems like you’re having to rush to make a class or event on time and don’t have time to walk. As Judy says, the synchronous rides are getting in the way of her walking off the food!

Judy weeding
They call the nucleo here their “family”, and it feels very much like living in a large family. Everyone shares taking care of the 3 children. There are often many people chatting or doing activities together throughout the day. The jobs are shared equally, including cooking, cleaning up, and the outside maintenance work. We each have our ‘torno” (turn) doing cooking and cleaning up, although there is definitely an Italian culture of men doing more of the outside physical work, and women doing more of the kitchen and cooking work. They value my hard physical work outside, more than my fine chef skills, it seems. I have contributed in the kitchen however, – once when I made cardoon (an artichoke related plant with tough stalks that took all day of preparation to make them edible); and once when I made organ meats (heart, liver, kidney and lung) from a lamb that was slaughtered and given to the nucleo in exchange for grazing privileges on some of their pasture land. I knew if I didn’t make the organs they were going to be too old, so I looked up some recipes and added them to the menu for the evening.

nucleo kids

Cornucopia is located on the steep side of the valley that rises above the village Vidracco, and has ancient vineyard terraces over its entire landscape. Though long been overgrown with shrubs and trees, the terraces are gradually being cleared and transformed into gardens, greenhouses, and perennial plantings. They’re similar to the terraces of permaculturist Sepp Holzer, from Austria, except that they were made by hand centuries ago, and are all ready for being turned into a permaculture cornucopia. The only problem is there are so few people who are available for creating and maintaining gardens here at Damanhur, that the land is really being underutilized. Now that I’m here, I can see why there is little permaculture being practiced here. It’s not because people don’t think it would be a good idea, but rather because people spend their working time earning Euros to pay for their living expenses and cell phones, cars, computers etc. So with gardens being reserved for “spare time”, most of the nucleo’s are really not growing a significant amount of their own food. There is really only one person in my nucleo who spends considerable time on the gardens, Pooka, and I work with him to help increase the productivity here. I’ve started seeds that I brought with me, in flats in one of the 4 greenhouses, and I have taken over one of the undeveloped terraces to create my own large permaculture-style permanent raised bed garden that i’ve filled with my various plant starts. I’ve also been planting my starts in the greenhouses, as the early spring crops are harvested.

New Life Group
Our New Life program, with the dozen participants, keeps us quite busy with a schedule of classes, Damanhurian community events, and “community group” work – called “compus”. We have two compus days per week, one which rotates through different nucleo’s to provide help for their projects, and the other at Damanhur’s main food production nucleo, Prima Stalla. Prima Stalla is a 20′ drive from the core of Damanhur – on the valley floor where it is classic flat farmland ideal for a production farm. The New Life group works hard at Prima Stalla on its compus days, weeding, planting starts, tying up tomatoes, etc. in the four commercial greenhouses and outlying fields of outdoor crops. It was easy for me to see ways in which they could improve their production, and I was pleased when I was asked to share my suggestions with them. I wrote up a detailed consultation, in prioritized order – beginning with the suggestion of planting winter cover crops to fix nitrogen and increase organic matter in the soil, and continuing on for 7 pages. There is definitely interest in my expertise and ideas here. Damanhur is internationally known for his long-term success as a community, and for the way it integrates spirituality into the life of its citizens. Many of those who visit Damanhur have been coming here for spiritual learnings for years, and there are centers for Meditation Study around Europe and other countries world-wide. So the focus here is more on spirituality, although there is also a commitment to creating a sustainable localized economy
I have encountered aspects of the spirituality in many ways during my stay here. I visited the amazing underground Temples early in my stay, and the outdoor temples are regularly used for rituals, including the recent solstice ritual. Damanhur was originally located here because of its proximity to the crossings of several “synchronic lines” that have been mapped world-wide. These might be viewed something like “ley lines”, although they have much greater significance in Damanhur’s spirituality. In a class on synchronic lines, I learned that they are completely different than the “synchronicity” that people experience here. There is more of a flow of spiritual energy along those lines – they might be seen as the spiritual nervous system of Gaia. There are many things which require years of study here, in order to understand aspects of esoteric physics which are integrated into the Schools of Mystery, Alchemy, and Meditation.
There are also modalities of healing and positive influence that use devices that are part of what is called “Selfica”. Bracelets are made of copper windings for a variety of selfica purposes. I experienced a Selfica “prana” healing a month ago, when I sat in a chair in a special selfica room for five minutes. I’d been having difficulties getting my blood pressure under control for the past 5 months. I’ve increased my drugs, changed to different medications, and still my systolic has been stubbornly high, while my diastolic is almost too low. I was planning on going to the doctor here after giving it a while to equilibrate with my diet here. Instead, I went to try the prana healing. I wrote down the digital record from my blood pressure cuff over the past month prior to the treatment, and it has indeed been continuously high.But the day after the prana treatment, and ever since, my blood pressure has been totally normal. I’ve been measuring it twice daily ever since, and it’s remained perfectly normal for the past 4 weeks, even after I cut my meds by ¼ a week ago.
Next time I’ll go more into the aspects of permaculture which first drew me here, but suffice to say here that it seems like my talents are in demand, and what this community has achieved in the social and spiritual development areas, could be augmented by making more improvements in living more sustainably and producing more of their local food and products. There are many who would like to see Damanhur fulfill its dream of sustainability that began as the Oleo Caldo Project many years ago.

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