The soul journey
I have been ‘traveling as a means to meditate’, embodying the space-in-between, embracing impermanence and change. In 2016, after nearly 10 years living in London, I decided to leave everything and ask questions, in this time of personal and global transitions, the age of interbeing.
For over 2 years I lived off a suitcase and I carried my camera with me. I've seen many faces, places and things. I lived in cities, in the countryside, by the sea, in a forest of cork trees; I stayed with family, old and new friends, in houses, flats, a yurt, a rural artist residency, a cottage, a boat, Buddhist monasteries and two caravans. I was like a pilgrim on the road with my heart wide opened, and many people welcomed me with generosity and kindness.
When I started my Soul journey I didn't know I would make a film and a book, but indeed this traveling meditation turned into images, sounds and words, an exercise to put things into perspective, to experiment, to integrate and embody values and ideas, try out things, as a way to create space to allow a new story to emerge.
If you watched my previous film Give us Space online, or attended any of the community screenings and artivist events that I organized, you know how I have been engaged in the housing justice movement in London. My personal housing crisis is not in the documentary directly but indeed the film resulted from my personal experiences, the research and awareness I gained through it. Gentrification knocked on my door too many times, the layers of trauma were piling up. When I had to leave again (this time the house I lived in was being sold), I decided to end this cycle and go out and about in search of the true meaning of Home.
It was not a holiday or a simple adventure, to then go back to the usual life, no, it was an experience of radical opening, of mystery and awe. For a long time there was a true call to journey, and inspired by Joseph Campbell words “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls”, I decided to leave, facing the crisis in the eye and take it as an opportunity for change.
Living a nomadic life, I moved between 4 countries: England, Germany, France and Portugal. With one-way tickets, I stayed in 43 different places, dancing with uncertainty, following the synchronicity path and letting things unfold. There were many challenges, discomfort, exhaustion, survival, and also fun, unexpected and beautiful people and places on my way. And growth, not the kind of 'more', but of less, of depth.
The journey became my home.
The journey started as a real life experience of uncertainty. It is a very personal film-meditation, a reflection on our world and transitions, a visual poem on Nature, a contemplation on grief, loss and the impermanence of (my) Life. I hope it is inspiring. I started this in 2016, however only now, during the lockdown, I could complete the film. Actually, when I started the soul journey I did not know I was going to make a film or write a book called Travelling like clouds (some excerpts bellow) or that I would be working with women with Alzheimer's and help people crossing the bridge to death or that I would live where I live now.
Indeed 'uncertainty gives us the present moment'. What unfolds is often surprising. One thing I learned was that uncertainty and crisis, however challenging and very uncomfortable, can open powerful roads for growth and teach us to be present, open the imagination to new possibilities and practice resilience.
excerpts of TRAVELLING LIKE CLOUDS, the book
"I travelled without a plan or destination like the wandering Taoist monks did in ancient times; they called it 'travelling like clouds'. Many ancient cultures have some form of this conscious wandering as a way of expanding limits, of un-learning, of walking into unknown roads as a practice of self-discovery; as a rite of passage or initiation.
This was indeed an essential part of my journey. To live this truth in my daily life, in my relationships, in my actions. Like a seeker, a wanderer, a cloud, I travelled as a means to meditate, embracing impermanence and change. Embodying the space in between, I stayed in the liminal zone.
As my meditation teacher, Thomas Hübl, says, 'when you are really here, you take a step, and then... the ground appears.' Sometimes there was no ground, and I would have to trust that it would appear. And it always did. This way I walked off the beaten track. Step by step. I stayed in the space in between. It is not a comfortable place to be, but it is fundamental for real change. My journey became my way to dwell with change, it became my meditation in action."
TRAVELLING LIKE CLOUDS, the art of being present
is a self-published book, 270 pages, english.
available as PDF, eBook or to Print on demand
the art of being present
DEEP ECOLOGY AND NATURE
In London I was part of the environmental movement and of the permaculture and deep ecology communities, but I was longing for a deeper experience in Nature. When I got the opportunity to live in a caravan in wilderness in the South of Portugal, I said yes and there I started this film-meditation. I had no electricity, running water or the internet. The film was made on solar panels. A daily practice of being with Nature. I started by filming my daily life, fixing the caravan, getting water, etc, then I started filming the trees and how they would change with the sun and the rain, the fog and sunsets. I was limited to about 3 hours of laptop use as our DIY solar panel was not very powerful but I was dedicated to work on the film every day as a meditation practice, with awareness and focus.
By then I realized that my soul journey had actually started many years ago, when my partner passed away with cancer. I later had another important turning point, after my heart operation 6 years ago. I didn't know it back then, but those two life events changed everything. In my tiny caravan, I went back on a long flashback to look into my personal life and the Life happening around me, in London, in the world, over the past 10 years. Slowly I dropped the stories and kept the insights. The film became somehow mysterious, poetic and philosophical. I used video and photo diaries. Through filming and editing, I selected pieces of life and excerpts of films that I made, while filming myself in the process. I use video footage, photographs, texts, music, sounds to express these insights, finding new connections, not only into my own life, but into Life itself, Death, Nature, and Art.
I found out that Nature is where I belong, and I slowly discovered the wisdom that rises from deep within the body. After years living in a fast paced mega-city, I was (re)discovering a new but familiar intimate feeling: a sense of belonging to Earth started to emerge as I connected with my own nature, through the deep time of trees, the cycles of the Moon and the tides of the ocean. To film the Nature around me was a deep relation that demanded focus, presence, attention and readiness. The impermanence of the light and the subtle changes were quick to disappear. Each season would bring something new. Along the journey, in the many places and landscapes I've stayed, it became more and more clear that the external world was not separate from me, it was often a mirror, an extension, a sign of where to move next, or a way to convey some truth or teaching; we are deeply interconnected, we are the same fabric of Life.
The film is 90 minutes long. The book has 270 pages. And still the journey is much much longer and took me into many unexpected directions and new experiences that I could not anticipate or expect when I left. But a lot of what I learned - and more importantly what I unlearned - is actually difficult to put into words.
A feminine way of filmmaking
"I am happy to be a woman, with my sensibility, my intuition, my receptivity and my nurturing nature. I notice how these qualities are in the making of the film - a feminine way of film making, so different from the predominant masculine way present in the film industry where each person does a bit, there is the director, the producer, a hierarchy, things are planned, controlled, made fast and quick, with many takes to reach perfection.
For me, film making became a quiet activity, the equivalent to writing a secret poem, full of depth and meaning, simply a way to dwell on the mystery of being human.
In my way of making films, which I am calling here the feminine way, there is curiosity to wait for the light, there is acceptance and patience, there is time for being and not knowing what will come next, there is time to listen, within and around, attentively, and with care. I film and edit without separation, present to what comes to me, finding the secret connections, between sounds, images and words, through a collage of sensations and insights, like a meditation.
This is a film made with the patience of a weaver, hand-made, holistic, healing art. I feel proud I have made this film on my own, while traveling and working. Also to note that 70% of the making of this film was done ecologically on solar panels, and in harmony with the cycles of Nature"
Along the journey I was supported by many people, teachings and learnings, sometimes through books, online courses and podcasts. Charles Eiseinstein, Bill Plotkin, The tree sisters, Clarissa Pinkola Estes were very important and somehow were my travel companions and teachers. With them, and many others, I studied and embodied the transitions of a new paradigm, through eco-psychology, soulcraft practices, trauma healing, deep time, spiritual ecology and the awakening of the wild feminine and sisterhood. In the film, I use some sound excerpts of webinars of various teachers and speakers that are influential to me, and inspired me through the journey, allowing new insights and expansion. In the film, I add these teachings as short sound quotes, in a subtle tapestry of connections and insights that mirror my own. I mix those with music, images and stories. Here are their names with links for their work and deep gratitude:
Charles Eisenstein, Michael Stone, Alan Watts, Joanna Macy, Thomas Hubl, Gabor Maté, Chris Johnstone & Rob Hopkins, Clare Dubois / Tree Sisters, Grandmother Flordemayo and a special thanks to Ian Mackenzie for his films 'The gift of our wounds' (with Michael Stone) and 'Humanity's new story' (with Thomas Hübl).
I always carry music with me. I traveled with my headphones and the music for the film was carefully selected. Most of the music is made by friends, or people I met on my journey, it's an amazing soundtrack with the music of the underground and independent music from the many places I lived and travelled to, from London of course, Berlin, France, Philadelphia, Brighton... Ambient, techno, drum'n'bass, healing sounds, beautiful voices, meaningful music.
With many THANKS to the fellow travellers, who kindly allowed me to use their music in this film it was such an important part of the journey itself. Here are their names with links for their music pages to help spread independent music and their good work!
(Seve & SleepingWater)
RUBY TAYLOR / YUMI AND THE WEATHER
Thank you for your support
this is a truly independent DIY project but I could not do it without you all
gratitude to everyone who contributed to the making of the film by donating money
to everyone who supported and encouraged me on this journey
and all the homes and friendship
grateful to have received a grant support to complete post-production
by the Portuguese Film Institute with Papaveronoir
keep caring for each other