The moon understands what it means to be human.
Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.
Tahereh Mafi, “Shatter Me”.
I don’t really remember how I found Eleonora. But I remember wandering through Instagram accounts, and suddenly seeing her picture. There was something about her - the combination of yoga, tattoos, her exposing so much vulnerability and strength in her writing. I was blown away.
Eleonora is a brave woman who found the strength to leave an abusive relationship and take control over her life and learn to love herself, inspired by yoga, body movement and music. Then later she found the strength to start her battle against domestic violence, with Ode to the Moon.
Since 2014, Ode to the Moon has offered its services to raise funds all over New Jersey, New York and Europe to help victims of domestic violence all over the world.On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
“Ode to Moon is a non-profit organization that breaks the silence about domestic violence through body movement, yoga, visual artists and musicians. Our projects high lights education and discussion on the topic of domestic violence, as well as guidance to various professional services for those who need assistance. Our objective is to empower individuals who are in need of finding a voice to break their silence”
Starting very small, the goal was simple: to invoke discussion on the topic of domestic violence and raise money to benefit the efforts of turning lives around 180 degrees - a local organization that provides shelter and resources for the survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Then Eleonora Zampatti became the founder of Ode to the Moon, the instructor, and a survivor herself of domestic abuse. “ It is through the movement of my body that I was able to accept my past, embrace my scars, and learn how to fall in love with myself...” And it is through movement she hopes to teach everyone the poetry they hold within themselves to accept who they are, no matter what scars they bear.
Could you tell us about the connection between yoga and the strength you found to make a change?
Yoga taught me many things, but mainly it taught me to surrender. Surrender to something higher than me, that life force that guides us and governs us. Surrender to God, to my breath, to this life that sometimes just does not make sense. It taught me to be nice with myself, to stop judging myself and to find the courage to spread my wings and fly, without landing in sight. Trusting that doesn’t matter how hard the landing might be, it is in that fly that I can find the highest form of freedom and joy.
The physical practice taught me that it’s ok to fall, to drop on the floor and just listen to the echo of my heart beat, the melody of my breath, laying down on the floor. It taught me that the practice is not just about handstand, that in order to get there I have to be patient and more then everything I have to be willing to fall and fall over and over again without thinking that I’m failing. Yoga taught me to believe in myself, to connect. It taught me that child pose is a pose, and moving into it does not mean that I’m weak, it means that I understood that I need to stop, rest and ground myself, to connect to my breath.
Breathing was a foreign concept for me, I lived my life holding my breath, too scared to say or do something wrong, too scared to end up being punished for it. Practicing taught me to breathe again. To discover the power that lies behind and inhale and exhale, the life force that comes with this simple action. Through yoga I learned to listen to my heart beat, the voice of my soul and embrace everything I am. Light and darkness, sun and moon, joy and tears, and never judge my weakness. Instead -accept them and make them my strength.
Why “Ode to the Moon”?
When you walk away from the nightmare that is called domestic violence, you are left alone, dealing with demons that nobody wants to get to know. Most of the time you blame yourself for everything that happened to you and you are ashamed of who you are.
Yoga taught me that you can change all of this, you can understand that the past does not come back to hurt you, it simply never leaves. You have to learn to accept it, so you can embrace everything you are: light and darkness, sun and moon, earth and water, all in one.
I decided not to fear my pain anymore and to re write my story and I believe that this was the real beginning of Ode to the Moon. Many times, I thought I could not make it, but I have. I changed my life. I did not let the pain of the past dictate my future. I chose love, even if love has broken my heart many times. When I started to really let go of the past, I was able to understand my power and I decided to dedicate myself to help those who are still living under the overbearing shadow of violence.
My mission is sharing with my students the knowledge and the courage they need to carry their practice out of the yoga studio and into their lives. For them to let go of anything that is hurting them in their body and in their soul. I wanted to create a place where they can understand what it means to be vulnerable. A place free of judgments where we can all practice together and support each other with love and compassion. A place where yoga and music are combined. I have discovered that live music was vital in getting this feeling across, so I started to add acoustic live music during class. Music evokes connections with people.
Because of my experience, my teaching started to focus on bringing awareness on the topic of domestic violence. Because nobody wants to talk about it, I wanted to create an environment where we can raise our voices against violence, where we can sing our song and say no to it. Where we can use our body to dance the symphony of life. The life we deserved. This was the inception of “Ode to the Moon”.
A series of yoga events with live music that at the beginning was designed to bring awareness on the topic of domestic violence and benefit a local association called 180 Turning Lives Around Inc. I created this event because it was time for me to give back. Music evokes connections with people, and when properly combined with movement and the breath, it allows us to really get in touch with those emotions that we hide within our self.
Practice, according to the moon cycle, connects us to the cycle of darkness and light, life and death, strength and surrender. The name Ode to the Moon comes from this idea that like the Moon teaches us - you cannot be strong and full of light (full moon), if once a month you are not empty and dark (new moon).
Ode to the Moon evolved with time and we became a nonprofit (501c3) that uses visual art, yoga and music to bring awareness on the topic of domestic violence. Our goal is to inspire people to step up, get involved, and cultivate compassion for those suffering in silence. We give victims a voice that will be heard, offer a clear path to reach out for assistance and wash away the shame often attached to this issue. We are now concentrating our energy to create a project very dear to me, In the attempt to bring yoga and awareness all over the world. We want to create an online platform, an online community where we can not only practice together but also get educated and share our experiences with one another.
When it comes to yoga, Ode to the Moon wants to share with the world a supportive practice focused on nurturing creativity and empowering the Goodness within. Music and movements together acts as a catalyst for newness and ultimately help us strengthen both body and soul.
Seems like you have a strong connection with cats in your life. Would you mind sharing?
I have a strong connection with animal in general! (lol)
You should see me with the deers and the raccoons who live in the woods behind my house! I talk to them, I feed them, I wait for them to show up in my backyard and if I don't see them for a few days I get so sad! Sometimes I feel like Cinderella (I just need to teach them how to help me with laundry and house cleaning, I guess!). Going back to the question - I do have a strong connection with cats (and dogs). I grew up in a family of animal lovers and we always had a couple of cats and dogs at the times (Great Days). Believe me when I tell you that our pets were treated as people, so I always considered them brothers and sisters, a fundamental part of a family structure.
When I moved in NYC by myself, far away from my family I was so lonely and I was missing that sense of home/family I was so used to. I knew I needed a new “brother”, but I was also living in a very small apartment with a crazy work schedule, in a city that is so busy, and in my opinion not really dog friendly. So I decided to get a cat, because it was not fair to a dog to make him live in such a tiny space. Let me tell you, getting Benito was the best decision I have ever made. He was with me during the worst moments of my life and he saved me over and over by simply loving me for who I was. His way to love, the way each and every animal loves, was an inspiration to learn how to love my self. Cats are very sensitive creatures, they pick up your energy right away and they have this ability to ground you, to make you understand how magical life is. They are independent, but yet, so connected to you, so in tuned with your feelings. Cats are creatures created to make humans realize how powerful we ca be.
You can support Ode to the Moon spreading domestic violence awareness, by purchasing any of the red coral Daiji Bracelet collection. 30% of every purchase will be donated to Ode to the moon.
Ode to the Moon and bu Designs will support the Stride 4 Strength march against domestic violence on June 3rd, 2017. Show up wearing your bracelet showing your support to our cause. Compassion is always the answer, so don't be afraid to shout it. Stand together against domestic violence because love is #louderthansilence
You can learn here more about Ode to the Moon.
Follow @eleonorazampattion Instagram.
Photography by @miaellestudios