It is well-known that long walking is useful for keeping body and mind healthy. In particular, it soothes anxiety. If you walk barefoot on the earth, the beneficial effect is enhanced.

A few days ago, I saw people walking barefoot on a red clay path in Duryu Park, in Daegu, Korea. I decided to do the same. I took off the socks and shoes, rolled up the blue-jeans, and walked that path for about three hundred meters. I felt the energy of Earth under my feet. It was like when you are hugging a tree in the forest. Both the earth and the tree transmit healing energy to you.

At the end of the path, there was a place where the red clay was muddy. People enjoyed soaking their feet in the mud. They also walked on it. Someone stamped their feet on the mud. I did the same and had a feeling of peacefulness, and above all I enjoyed myself innocently like a child. Walking on red clay and mud is really beneficial. Try it to believe!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)




London is a big city rather an ensemble of small towns joined together to form Greater London. To try to unravel the mysteries of the city, the best thing to do is to get on a red, double-decker bus and see the interesting places to visit from above. Following that idea, I waited for the first double-decker bus at the corner of Bath Road. It was the number 105.
The first stop was at Heathrow Airport. There were three terminals. On the upper floor of the terminal for international flights there was a waiting lounge flanked by shops. There were also rows of chairs for the passengers to sit while waiting for their flight.
I sat on one of those chairs and watched the people walking down the lounge and going in or out of the shops. There were people of all kinds of races. Many wore the traditional clothes of their homeland. I observed all those passengers and asked myself why I couldn’t travel by airplane. I thought about my absurd fear of flying. What was the cause? All those people around me were traveling by plane with no problems. Why not me?
I felt like a pigeon pushed away from its nest by the beak of its mother. Instead of opening its wings and flying, it hides in a bramble bush where it feels safe and from where it watches the other birds flying high.
While I was watching the crowd, a young couple came and sat close to me. He had Eastern features and wore a long, brightly colored robe and a fez on his head. Of the woman, I was able to see only her eyes; the rest of her body was covered with veils.
“Are you also waiting for your flight?” the man asked me.
“No, I am not. I’m just watching the passengers.”
“Are you a writer? Are you going to write a novel?” asked the veiled woman whose eyes looked like black quicksilver and flashed like those of a ferret. Her eyes reflected her gaiety.
“We got married just a short time ago,” said the man, “and we are going to Malaysia.”
“Where is Malaysia?”
“Near Thailand.”
“How long does it take to fly to Malaysia?”
“About fourteen hours, but we will transfer in Bangkok.”
“Aren’t you afraid that the airplane might fall?”
“There is no danger!” they both answered with one voice.
They said goodbye with great warmth, and I remained sitting there for a while, keeping watch of the continuous flow of people. At last, I decided that my abnormal situation should not last any longer; I had to finish being handicapped! I had to put a stop, once and for all, to my fear of flying. But what should I do? How could I do that? I had the sensation that, if I got onto an airplane, I would die of fear. I thought I would not be able to bear the changes in atmospheric pressure in my ears. Nevertheless, I was determined to win this battle. So, I started watching the airplanes during takeoffs and landings. In order to keep up my observations, I left the airport and went to a nearby two-story building.
On the ground floor, there was a permanent exhibition dedicated to civil aviation. On the walls, I saw pictures of famous figures when they got on or off an airplane. Among them there were Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, taken in the late fifties when they disembarked from a four-engine aircraft with propellers.
There was also a simulated flight deck. I vied with the children to get on that flight deck! Inside, everything looked real: the seats, the cockpit, the console full of electronic instruments, and the wide windscreen. I followed the stages of the flight: takeoff, flying at high altitude, and landing.
Everything was reproduced perfectly, even the conversations between the captain and the control tower. I listened to the instructions the control tower gave to the captain before landing. I often went back to that flight deck and focused my attention on those talks.
On the upper floor, there were large windows through which I was able to see two runways from a short distance, one for landing and the other for taking off. I noticed that most of the airplanes, after taking off, made a turn toward the right, and then went straight on their way. Nearing the airport, the airplanes descended slowly and landed smoothly. I admired the takeoff of a Concorde, which usually left for New York in the late afternoon. I was struck by the elegance of that supersonic airplane and noticed that its four engines emitted a red glow at sunset.
The following year, I was in London again, but this time as a volunteer of RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds). I had conquered my fear of planes as a result of my experience with the simulated flight board the year before. I boarded a low-cost flight from Palermo to London Stansted Airport. It took three hours to go from Sicily to England. The previous year the journey had taken three days by train and I had spent nearly 300 percent more!…

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind



While I was staying in the ashram, I finished writing the first draft of this book and gave a copy of it to Baradeny. After she read a few pages of the draft, she wanted to talk about paranoia and anxiety in the class.
“Paranoia,” she said, “is a compound of two Greek words: para means ‘close,’ ‘near,’ ‘sideways,’ ‘similar,’ ‘resembling’; nus means ‘mind.’ So, we can define paranoia as an artificial mind close to the real one. It looks like a real mind, but it is a false mind. Whenever you let that artificial mind loose, it takes you by the hand, and you are led by it. Then, you stop thinking with your real mind and begin to think with this artificial mind or paranoia. It has the power to lead you into an illusory world. Gradually, you lose contact with the real world.
“What can you do to fight paranoia? What is the method to overcome and eliminate the artificial mind definitely? It’s not difficult. You shouldn’t try to suppress it. If you attack paranoia frontally, as in an open field battle, you will lose and end up strengthening it more and more. Instead, all you have to do is watch paranoia! Yes, just watch and watch this artificial mind. At last, it will fade away, because it can’t exist by itself. It is like a mirage bound to disappear as soon as you realize what it is.”
I tried to keep those words in mind. Whenever my artificial mind allured me into the twists and turns of illusion, I watched it calmly. As I kept watching my artificial mind, it became smaller and smaller like a little shy boy who runs to hide when he notices that a stranger is watching him. As the darkness of the night disappears when the day dawns, my paranoia faded away after my watching, at last.
During a break, Baradeny told us an old Indian story.
“Once upon a time, there was a bee that flitted over the flowers in a meadow. Now and then, it alighted on a flower to suck the nectar. Finally, the bee settled on an extraordinary flower, the most beautiful in the meadow. Its fragrance was intense and attractive enough to spellbind the bee. It didn’t want to leave the flower and lingered inside the corolla, forgetting to go back to its hive. While it was enjoying the nectar, an elephant came unexpectedly. With its trunk, it pulled the flower out and cast it away. Without its roots in the ground, the flower shut itself up immediately. The bee remained trapped inside the petals and couldn’t get out of it. Do you know what the significance of this story is? You ought to strive not to become attached to earthly pleasures too much. Otherwise, you will get trapped, as it happened to the bee.”
Then, Baradeny talked about anxiety.
“We can define anxiety as a kind of self-defense. It is not harmful if it is necessary. Anxiety makes us alert and aware of danger. But when anxiety is excessive, it becomes pathological. Once, I knew a man who couldn’t get out of his house because of his anxiety. Some people fear traveling by airplane, and some can’t drive a car because of fear. In extreme situations, some people can’t even walk in the street. They are much too anxious to do the usual things for others.
“There are many effective methods to treat anxiety, but the best of all is ‘watching yourself.’ In fact, anxiety, just like paranoia, doesn’t have a real basis. It is the fruit of your imagination. Anxiety is like being scared of your own shadow. But anxiety, like a shadow, is just a projection of your mind. If you keep watching yourself without striving to suppress anxiety, you will realize the difference between reality and illusion. Instead of running away from anxiety, watch yourself. You will understand that neither the shadow nor anxiety can hurt you because neither of them can stand alone. They are just projections!
“When I lived in Germany, I had a horse that was frightened by his shadow. The horse didn’t know that the shadow of his body couldn’t threaten him. It was not easy to convince him not to get scared. At last, he understood that his shadow was an image projected by his body. After understanding, he calmed down.
“Therefore, whenever anxiety tries to take over you, take a rest for some minutes and sit silently. Watch your breathing, watch your mind, watch your body, watch your thoughts, and watch your anxiety. Gradually, your mind will be purified, and your anxiety will vanish! You can’t find it anymore because it comes from an impure mind.”

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind




Without a doubt, Shikido produces positive effects on the body and mind. In regard to me, it made me more open to others and steadier. Is it possible that these positive effects are due to autosuggestion rather than to the real effectiveness of the discipline? What is autosuggestion? What is the difference between reality and illusion, waking and dreaming, existence and vacuity?
When I was about twenty years old, one night my Belgian friend, Brigitte, gave me an effective pill to sleep peacefully. It worked perfectly, and I slept well all night. The following day, she showed me the capsules that seemed to contain the drug inside. But they were all empty. The pill I had taken was also empty! I didn’t know it. Nonetheless, it was effective to me. Did the same happen with regard to Shikido?
What is the criterion that makes us distinguish between reality and illusion? In pharmacology, the effectiveness of drugs is often tested through a placebo. Without their knowing, a group of patients is given a dose of a placebo drug while another group receives the real drug. Even though the placebo contains nothing effective, it often produces the same effect as the actual drug. Sometimes, so-called magicians, healers, and
clairvoyants provoke a placebo effect in their clients who are really convinced of benefiting from them. Do meditation and prayer produce placebo effects as well?
When I attended secondary school, before a written test, I entered the church and lit a small candle to Saint Joseph. My grandmother told me that, if the flame of the candle was
brilliant, the result of the test would be good, but if it was feeble or flickering, the result would be not good. Almost always what my grandmother said happened to me! Was it a placebo effect?
In ancient times, predictions were sometimes gotten through the observation of the flight of birds or their entrails. In Greece, the Delphian oracle was renowned. It seems that its predictions were infallible. But we can’t know whether it was true or not. For some people, even stigmata are the fruit of autosuggestion.
How to distinguish illusion from reality? Once, a friend of mine gave me his answer on this topic.
“I can state, with absolute certainty, that everything we can touch, see, and hear through our senses is true and real.”
The answer is only partially correct. At that time, I felt that his opinion was materialistic. There are many invisible truths. Senses are connected to the mind, which rules them. We sense things through the filter of the mind. So, how can we be sure that what we see, touch, and listen to corresponds to the absolute, true, and ultimate reality? We can’t know the truth! This is the human condition! From this basis, the path of knowledge has to proceed toward the search for another dimension where we can perceive the ‘source of the universe’ from which reality derives.

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind



In the past, I strove to remain serene. But it was very difficult for me, because I couldn’t put into practice my resolution in daily life. Although I deeply wanted to be free from anxiety, I couldn’t succeed. Anxiety and mental confusion always got the upper hand on me. What to do!
When Manuela and I got back to the house of the organization, I went to my room to lie down on my bed, and went over my past experiences and attempts to get over my anxiety and depression.
On the sides of the lake in my hometown, there were some apparatuses for doing gymnastic exercises. My friends used to do rolls on the rings. I couldn’t do that exercise, even though I knew how to do it in theory. I knew that it was not dangerous, and nothing would happen to me. I had a body structure suitable for doing that, but I lacked the courage to grip the rings and launch myself with my head downwards. I couldn’t put into
practice what I knew in theory. I was too anxious to do a roll.
How could I keep my anxiety under control?
There are many methods that claim to be a good treatment for anxiety and depression. Many of them consist in taking medicines. I have always viewed those chemicals with suspicion. They are artificial treatments for temporary serenity. Tranquilizers and medicines for mental diseases and personality disorders also have side effects and are addictive. A person’s inner balance is kept artificially on these drugs. If treatment is stopped, the frail equilibrium breaks. Drugs fight the symptoms, not the disease. Undoubtedly, the medicine triggers a chemical, artificial reaction that affects the person’s behavior and impairs his free expression of emotions and ideas.
Once, I talked about this issue with a psychiatrist. I expressed to her my opinion about drugs and addiction. If mental disease is kept under control by medicines, then the patient has to take them for his whole life.
“Don’t be so upset! Many body diseases can be controlled by taking medicines. For instance, think of the pills to control diabetes or high blood pressure. They must be taken daily and for life. That kind of medicine doesn’t provoke any scandal. Unfortunately, people are embarrassed to take drugs in the treatment of mental or emotional diseases,” said the psychiatrist.
As for me, I have always refused anything that was artificial and unnatural. I was convinced that if I had taken drugs to cure my anxiety and depression, my spontaneity would have been impaired. They would have undermined my spirit of adventure, my desire for knowledge, and my spiritual quest to understand the meaning of life. Furthermore, my critical and judgmental capacity would have dwindled away, as well as my passion for travel. So, I never turned to medicines to resolve my emotional, existential, and psychological problems.
Once, a Buddhist friend of mine taught me a kind of meditation.
“The technique I will teach you,” he said, “doesn’t provoke any side effect. It doesn’t break the natural equilibrium of your character. It strengthens your spirit of adventure and desire for knowledge instead of reducing them. In fact, this technique removes the negativity inside you and the hindrances that interfere with your inner growth. Hence, whenever anxiety and depression are about to invade you, use this technique.
“Just sit down and watch your breathing. Watch as if you were an external watcher. Don’t judge the thoughts that pass through your mind. Confine yourself to watching them. Pay attention to the air that comes in and out of your nostrils. Then, when you inhale, imagine that a white light passes through the crown of your head, floods into your body, and purifies it. When you exhale, imagine that your exhalation is a black smoke that carries out your negative thoughts, worries, and delusions.”
From then on, whenever I meditated in that way, my anxiety subsided a little. One day, when I was jogging around the lake, I stopped by the apparatuses. I stood facing the rings and meditated for a while as my Buddhist friend had taught me. Then, I grasped the rings, bent my head downward, made a jump, and lifted my feet toward the sky, without hesitating. Finally, I had done it! It was an easy exercise. My anxiety had prevented me from doing that. Both the white light and the black smoke didn’t exist. They were a figment of my imagination, but so was my anxiety.
While traveling in Tanzania, I resumed that meditation technique. I did it whenever I could, even that day, in the organization’s house. The results were good. My depression and anxiety subsided a little.

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind