Ayurveda, Yoga, meditation, mindfulness and more – welcome to the world of wellness for English-speakers here in Como. As from 1st April there will be a series of monthly pop-up wellness weekends – with totally flexible levels of participation – held in Como and led in English by a series of specialist facilitators in a range of wellness disciplines. This marvelous initiative is the brainchild of Miriam O’Reilly – the organiser of these ‘Free Your Mind’ weekends. Her ultimate vision is no less than to see Como as one of the primary European hubs for wellness facilities and events. For those of you already fully familiar with the world of wellness, why not check out the Free Your Mind website and sign up for as many or as few sessions as you wish whilst places are still available.
I recently met up with Miriam at Borgo35 – the location of her ‘Free Your Mind’ wellness weekends. I was fascinated to understand more about wellness in general as well as to hear what she has lined up for English-speaking residents and visitors to Como.
Miriam has been living in Como for the last five years and, from those first lonely weeks, has come to feel settled and happily integrated within the local and ex-pat community. Over that time she has developed her own knowledge and practice of wellness, along with a mission to widen wellness awareness and bring like-minded people together in a community of interest. I soon began to appreciate that if Miriam, on first arriving from Ireland, initially faced isolation, she would have very quickly set about taking steps to resolve it with the same optimistic spirit evident now in how she is bringing together the varied wellness resources for her ‘Free Your Mind’ weekends.
With my almost total ignorance of wellness beyond its obvious association with health, I was keen to hear how Miriam would explain it for me. Slightly to my surprise she quickly came back with a succinct definition namely that ‘wellness is the process of seeking out and cultivating the tools that help you to feel balanced in your mind and body.’ However I did sense that Miriam would henceforth avoid any further definitive statements due to her emphasising how both the ends and the means of wellness are a matter of personal preference. She described it as a form of self-discovery arrived at through introspection aided by whatever methods (Miriam referred to tools) best suited to each individual. And this is why she aims through the ‘Free your Mind’ sessions to introduce her participants to a variety of these tools (such as Ayurveda massage, yoga or other forms of meditation) so each of us can uncover which individual or combination of tools best help us along our journey.
So what would be the end goal of this esplorative journey? Why set out in the first place? Again, Miriam had no prescriptive answer to this but illustrated a typical preferred outcome with the simile of a ship’s captain steering his or her vessel through both calm and stormy waters with the same equanimity – in other words, being able to deal with all that life throws at you, whether hard, easy, challenging or dull, with flexibility, calmness and confidence.
Miriam’s own experience is perhaps the best way of illustrating one reason why someone would want to set out towards wellness. I found her approachable, open-minded, and plausible – in short, easy to talk to and to get on with. She is clearly an energetic person but fortunately without any of that stress-inducing aura exuded by so many high-energy individuals ( I am thinking of the Gordon Ramsay syndrome here). So I could readily appreciate how she has managed demanding roles in marketing and advertising within retail while wanting to seek ways of avoiding the adrenalin highs and exhausted lows that go with this territory. For her, the path taken to manage this excess stress was through yoga. She found she could clear her mind through yoga’s predominantly physical focus towards meditation and that it was this that best helped her when starting out.
But Miriam is well aware that alternative methods may better suit other people, hence her concept of bringing together various forms of wellness practice so that participants can try out as many as they wish, at one time and in one place. She has brought together a team of English-speaking specialist experts who normally practice in the Varese-Como-Milan area, to staff the wellness weekends. Their combined presence at Como represents a unique mass of experience and expertise. A glance at their biographies and qualifications outlined on the Free Your Mind website will go to show what valuable resources Miriam has been able to pool together, with all facilitators holding qualifications in their areas of expertise as well as having international experience.
The weekends are all scheduled to take place at Borgo35, a co-working and conference centre occupying the ex-convent of Santa Caterina on Via Borgo Vico, 35. It is a short walk down from San Giovanni Station or from the old centre, and there is parking nearby if arriving by car. The weekend seminars will have exclusive use of the centre with its full range of facilities ideally suited to running parallel sessions with break out areas, informal meeting zones and an equipped kitchen.
The location is calm, orderly and well equipped with the internal architecture still retaining some of the features from its spiritual past. Quite apart from Miriam’s wellness weekends, Borgo35 is in itself another great concept offering occasional office facilities for home workers, for networking or as a well-equipped location for meetings – but with a lot more soul to it than a standard hotel meeting room. Sabrina and her staff deserve every success running such a useful facility in support of sustainability and the collaborative economy.
I certainly learnt a lot about wellness through this brief meeting with Miriam and came away impressed with her vision for now and the future. She sees Como as an ideal hub where participants from the area and from across Europe could come to experience wellness breaks given the glorious lakeside settings, the specialist expertise as brought together by Miriam, the facilities and of course, the existing tourism infrastructure. For the immediate present, I admire her plan for developing a wellness community here in and around Como made up primarily (but not exclusively) of English-speaking residents and visitors. I know she will do everything possible to nurture and grow that sense of community and so I wish her every success – and urge you to visit the Free Your Mind website to consider what a single session, half day workshop or full immersion wellness weekend might do for you!
Just as a final reminder, the first of the Free Your Mind monthly weekends is on April 1st and 2nd with additional weekends set for May 6th/7th and June. If you are looking for more information on Wellness resources in the Varese-Milan-Como area, join the Wellness for English Speakers Facebook group . Some local Bio resources are listed on one of the Come Companion’s posts – see A-Bio–Como. We also hope shortly to begin listing other wellness resources under our Community listings, so watch this space.
And if you do need to hire a co-working or occasional meeting space, do contact Sabrina and staff on +39 031 6873673 or visit their site at www.borgo35.it.