In 2021, I made the biggest decision of my life. I had a real “f*ck it” moment—enough was finally enough. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Overnight, I made a decision and literally walked away from my promising career as an IT analyst and all the security that came with it. I was tired of living in the same place where I had the worst years of my life—living through and recovering from a nightmare of an abusive relationship with a narcissist fiancé, always living in the anxiety of him showing up somewhere and never being safe despite my supportive and protective circle of friends and family. I felt like I could only be the shadow of my real self, a shell of a human body merely existing. So I left behind my homeland, went on a two-months-long pilgrimage in Northern Spain, and ended up in Scotland to begin a new life here.
Many say I was brave to do so. Some say I was stupid and don’t understand how could I leave it all behind?
But the most important thing is: What do I think? I guess I was a little bit of both.
We’ve all experienced a “f*ck it” moment, or maybe two, in our life. (I actually had two.) Perhaps, it’s a crappy job that robs your joy or a romantic relationship that’s destroyed your soul. There is this feeling of waking up every single day knowing that you could be and do so much more than this. Your dreams seem to slowly fade away, life becomes an over-stressed never-ending run in the hamster wheel. You only stop to eat and sleep, while time is passing you by faster than you could ever run—and you never get anything done that adds to your soul, your life, your growth.
For me, starting over in Scotland was kind of an accident. I never really planned on moving there (though it was always on my bucket list to visit once) but the opportunity knocked on my door and I had to let it in.
Scotland had worked its magic on me a a child with its fairy tales of Nessie and stories of ghosts and the fae, and starting my new life there felt like coming home. Brave or stupid, one thing I knew for sure: I was going to have an adventure. I was going to experience it all. Savor every minute as much as I can so finally, I can feel like living again.
One day, I was walking on the Way of St. James in Spain when I made friends with someone who owned a tree planting company. He kept talking about it to everyone wherever we went and the stories of great people, adventure, helping the Earth to recover just got through to me so much that I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to experience it on my own. I wanted to find my tribe, to belong somewhere with like-minded people doing something that is meaningful and makes me feel proud. So soon after the Camino, I found myself on a plane to Edinburgh.
My time with planting was amazing and so rich in experiences that I would never expect. (Read about them here.) Yet it was not exactly the right thing for me. So I flew home to reunite with my family, support them through a tough journey and when time was right, I sat on a plane again to unite with someone I was in love with yet never met before. Again, brave or stupid? You have to trust the unknown and the Universe—but I promise you life rewards the brave. You have to let go of your fears and just be water, my friend.
My now-partner and I met up in Edinburgh and decided to put ourselves out there and see what happens. We applied to several places to do workaway, volunteering, and work exchange. Yet another great opportunity arrived through a random person, who suggested us to a couple who own a farm and needed some help. We spent two weeks with them before we found ourselves on the road again. Back to mainland Scotland from the Islands, to a Buddhist biodynamic vegetable farm that was calling us for a long time.
The Mandala Garden Project began on four acres of stony ground that had been under long-term pasture, situated in the Highlands of Scotland between Nairn and Forres. Gomde Scotland, a Tibetan Buddhist woodland retreat centre, is ‘next door.’ Although the project is very new, it has been many years in preparation. We joined in for the 3rd season of growing and expanding the garden where where the land is treated with biodynamic preparations during the year, and through meditation, as well as listening to the land and landscape, plans emerged. We continue to practice co-creation, listening to the land at each step. Feeling into what wishes to emerge here.
Arriving here felt like divine timing for us. Just when we needed it the most, we arrived in an open, heart-centered community where we were accepted with so much love and care I didn’t experience in a long time. It felt like a kiss from the universe—not the gentle pucker of the lips on the forehead, but a full-on kiss, with tongues and all.
This little place opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I realized that I now lived in a new world, or should I say, I’ve created a new world for myself, where a little miracle like this could happen any time. My world wasn’t so little after all… Finding the right place for me at that moment of my life felt like arriving in the gardens of the heart chakra. My heart chakra was always blocked, so opening and doing the healing work came naturally.
Our Days in the Mandala Gardens
Every morning I wake up at 6 a.m., do my ashtanga practice, followed by pranayama, kundalini yoga and meditation. Then back in the warm bed to enjoy some cuddly time with my partner before we head down to the kitchen for breakfast. Work normally starts at 9 a.m., but I shouldn’t call it work. It’s rather like love in action, as they call it in some spiritual communities. And it really feels like that. When you do what you love, you never work another minute in your life as they say, and nothing could be more true. We spend most of our days in the biodynamic garden fixing things, planting in the community garden and preparing for the next season. Here, everything’s so mindful: before we get to work we stand in a circle, often holding hands with closed eyes, while we bless the day and work ahead, ground ourselves and connect with nature around us. Lunch is usually shared and often gets extended as our little community grows stronger together, we have deeper and more meaningful chats with each other, too. Then we head back to finish off the jobs we started before we close the day again with a short little practice of gratitude and blessing of our work and the land. We take turns cooking dinner as well, and share it with each other.
Even if you’re someone who has an evolved spiritual practice, there will always be new practices you never heard of before. What I really love in our little community is that every one of us is so similar yet so different and brings their unique selves to the table (hence the name mandala—everyone is a different piece of it) with all their gifts to share. It’s such an inspiring environment to live in. Like finally breathing fresh air.
There are many new practices I learned already. One of them is called “sharing circle.” Each Monday we gather together, meditate and share whatever comes up. We listen to each other with attention and speak with the intention of sharing something that made us happy, joyful, sad or something that we learned. Only the person talking should talk, if there’s any feedback we give it once they have finished.
Growing with seedlings
Our job is mainly to take care of the organic, biodynamic gardens that are being established for personal use and one part of the garden is turned into a community garden. We just started to plant the first trees and berry bushes. Honestly, there is something relaxing and rewarding in this kind of work. You might put in so much effort and you know what the results will be—will the plant grow or wither? It allows us to explore our own souls as well, as we learn to put love into our actions, moving with care and intention—yet not to expect anything in return but have hopes in our hearts that the little plants will grow bit and in few years, they reward us with such an abundance for all the care and love we give them. As the garden expands, so do we. Being part of such a pure and intentional project is in itself a miracle. I see how we grow with it every day and learn so much from nature and each other and ourselves.
The meaning of true connections
While we connect in such a community much deeper with each other, I noticed a change in the way I connect with everything else—within and without me. When you arrive in a place where you are welcomed just as you are with warmth and loving care, without prejudice, it empowers you to shine your light more boldly and brightly, maybe as you never did before. I think the key to meaningful and deep connections is this: being open to receive the whole self of another and accepting it with all the love that exist in you. It also provides as a fertile ground for further growth and expansion on both sides and leads to exiting connections with other Souls.
This is an incredible adventure that wouldn’t have been without my “f*ck it” moment and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. This was a reminder that life rewards the brave—it likes to throw in a surprise or two along the way—if we are willing to let go of the life that isn’t ours and all the things that never really belonged to us.
If you get to this part of my article, thank you so much for paying your time to read it. If there’s anything you take away from this little piece of writing, I hope is this: if you are stuck in any situation in life that doesn’t make you happy, be brave and let it go. Don’t wait for the chaos or the “f*ck it” moment, as I did. If you choose to walk a different path and create a different world, you have no idea what could be waiting for you, the rewards that life could bestow upon you along the way.
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Photo: Imola Toth