Milan, Italy’s economic epicentre, can be very hectic, stressful, busy, full and loud – just like every other metropolis. At the same time, Milan is not exactly the greenest city one could imagine. Spots to relax, re-charge one’s battery and have a moment of silence and contemplation are rare.
All the more necessary and precious is a place like the Enso-Ji Zen monastery in a quiet side street on the edge of the Navigli neighbourhood. From the outside, the place in the backyard of an apartment house couldn’t be less spectacular. But never judge a book by its cover! Once inside, Enso-Ji is a refuge from the energy-draining urban hustle and bustle. The interior design is authentically Japanese – reduced simplicity and pureness, nothing in there that would distract meditators from being mindful.
Zazen (meditation session) takes place three times a week (after work or early morning). The meditations are guided by Italian volunteer monks and nuns, all of them ordained in Japan. After 90 minutes of combined seated and walking meditation, everybody leaves way more serene and concentrated than when they came in. The atmosphere is very conducive to being mindful and focused. I’ve only met co-meditators doing their very best not to distract or disturb others. Even more important, there is no better environment to meditate than together with like-minded folks. The vibes created by a meditation group are by far more intense than just sitting on a cushion alone at home. My favourite place in Milan!