Interview \\ What It's Like to Live in the Jungle, with Gloria Glo from Sattva Land

Native Country: Italy Living in: Belize Occupation: Wholistic Educator and Designer at Sattva Land

Gloria Glo is the seed behind Sattva Land; a holistic healing centre based on principles of yoga and permaculture. Her vision led her family to move their lives from cold Alberta, Canada to the lush tropics of South Belize. I met Gloria at the end of 2015 during a visit to Sattva Land, a place that has since left a huge impression on me. In this interview; the forward-thinking entrepreneur shares her doubts, insights and experiences living in the wild and untouched jungle of Belize;

Italy is my native country, but when I was a teenager my parents decided to move to Alberta, Canada. It was a shock and I tried to embrace it, but quickly realised that a life based on material things was not my cup of tea. This is what initiated my travels and my search (and research) for something different, so I left when I was nineteen. I’ve bounced around the world in search of answers for about a decade, but I found even more questions. Why do we allow ourselves to live unhappy lives? How do we arrive to such a state of confusion? Why are most people around me struggling to “make it”? What does “make it” mean? Who designed the collective goals everyone is supposed to achieve? Why is everyone getting sick?

My experiences travelling led me on a different path and a way of thinking. A successful marriage, big home, nice car, money in the bank, irrelevant university degree; none of this ever attracted me much, while nearly goes in that direction,I decided to go the other, and this is how Sattva Land came to be.

My family has always known me as the wanderer. But little did they know that what I was really doing on my travels was planning my escape from 'the real world' so I didn't have to be pinned me down to that lifestyle. 

At the same time, on the other side of the world, my parents, my older brother and my little sister, were getting fed up of Alberta and were also planning to move away.

So we decided to join forces so we could make the dream happen for all of us.

I was living in Central America at the time and didn’t want to leave; I loved the relaxing lifestyle, the weather, the jungle and the warmth of the people. My family were bored of their lives up north,  so they were up for the challenge.

I still remember the very first night we spent on the land together. Five of us and two dogs squished in a tiny wooden cabin in the middle of the raw and wild Jungle. A tropical storm welcomed us that night, and although my mind was asking “what the hell have you done!?” My gut was saying, “trust me”. The next day, we started building Sattva Land.

I studied philosophies including Ayurveda, Tantra and Buddhism and was teaching yoga and meditation for a few years and I’ve always been a passionate dancer. Since I arrived at Sattva Land, I knew this was going to be my university and the hardest degree I could achieve for myself. We started the project with the intention of creating a learning and retreat centre for Yoga and Permaculture. My brother and sister had studied permaculture and were ready to apply their knowledge on the land.

As we started building, it was clear that we were learning and mastering all that we wanted to teach and share in our educational centre by creating the learning centre itself, from scratch. Through the fiery devotion we all have as a family and the many hands that came to help us in the journey, Sattva sprouted and bloomed and is still blooming everyday.

In the first stage of the project we were clearing, clearing, clearing. We decluttered 3 acres of overgrown orange orchid, when I realised the same thing was happening inside myself, clearing, decluttering. The wild vines of my lush, self-sustaining system - just like the jungle - was trying to re-claim its territory. In other words; it became clear through observation and experience that the  development of Sattva Land mirrored my inner landscape. One of the many lessons I've learned here is that, we are our surroundings and we reflect the reality in which we live. When I arrived, I was 20 acres of lush jungle with 3 acres burned to ashes. With the application of permaculture,  we’ve re-established a thriving, self-sustained ecosystem and I noticed it reflect in my own inner-patterns.

Doubt is present, and always has been. There are doubts about living so rural, away from everything

It hasn’t been an easy journey, yet the results amazed me and they still do - there’s been a lot of light and as much darkness. This is what the Jungle has taught me very well; there needs to be death, for more life to sprout. There are as many decaying logs, falling leafs, rotting trees and dead insects on the jungle floor as there is thriving plants, lush bio-diversity and endless life-forms. The more we shed, the more compost we create for healthy soil to host new plants and can observe the same cycles of our inner pathways; the more we let go and continuously shed the old, the more we make space and soil for something new to arise.

Doubt is present, and always has been. There are doubts about living so rural, away from everything. 

The fascinating thing is that we could be in the middle of the Jungle, with no one around for miles, for days on end, and still, we’d never be alone. We're never alone. Being here makes you feel part of the greater whole. 

It's been challenging to balance family dynamics, of course, but being Italian, there's nothing that we can’t openly discuss at the table after a good meal. Coming together is something that we do a lot in our family and that has been a great anchor to help us achieve this whole thing. Openly communicating and practicing mindfulness has helped a lot. 

For me living in the Jungle has helped me to appreciate the endless diversity and constant change of the jungle. Unfortunately, we live in a world that doesn't appreciate this diversity and fears change which, ironically, is the very natural essence of life. Allowing these natural rhythms to dance in our inner landscape helps us to adapt, surrender and accept the natural rhythms of our outer world.

We can understand the potential of our environment better, by watching how much life sprouts at the meeting point between two different environments, a space and time at which permaculture refers to as “the edge”. Observing and reflecting on the parallels between inner and outer permaculture have been the source of ongoing study and observation throughout this project. I hope to share this understanding and offer examples given by the best and most powerful teacher, Nature.

I breathe, smell, eat, watch and touch the Jungle at all times and we are always observing its wild cycles of life and death. It inspires new ideas and I spend my days responding to this inspiration in my work. I practice yoga daily, dance, eat amazing healthy food, get to know the many beautiful volunteers that come by and co-create on projects with them. We take care of the many gardens here and my brother and I collaborate on permaculture and carpentry projects together. We recently designed an architect desk together which we build from the woods harvested from the Land. We are also finalising our aquaponic system, which will connect to our pond and increase our production of fresh, organic veggies. 

We talk about selling Sattva Land sometimes, or about developing it even more. All I know is that we don’t know. What manifested here is so different to our original plans. The path of what to do next clearer each day, so we try to stay present with what it is now and let that inform what happens in the future.

I have learned that a true wholistic and regenerative lifestyle starts with a state of mind. The rest is all reflections.

By Gloria Glo