For this month’s Spotlight we relax and lose ourselves in the life of Neopolitan-born Barbara de Simone, PhD, Acupuncturist and Zen Meditation Coach, whose career has spanned the frenetic pace of International Politics, Global Sales and Marketing brands before settling for the calm of Traditional Chinese Medicine and many other holistic treatments.
- You’ve lived in Spain on and off with your Dutch husband since 1997, what does Madrid mean to you and your family?
Both my husband and I feel truly European and it has always been important to live on “neutral” territory… so neither Italy nor The Netherlands. This is where we got married, had our children and started our personal and professional life so Spain and in particular, Madrid, is a real home to us all.
- What brought you to Spain in the first place?
I moved to Spain because I had applied for a PhD program in International Politics to investigate the relationship between Southern Europe and Latin American dictatorships at Granada University. Once I obtained my PhD, I had met my future husband and was hooked on Spain so I decided to stay!
- You’ve had a diverse career in Madrid spanning the Italian Consulate, Holmes Place health clubs and representing Danish jewellery brand, Trollbeads – which has had the biggest impact on your life today?
My Trollbeads experience definitely left a big impression on me! I learned to be an independent business woman, who was a self-starter, able to take decisions under pressure, manage a large team whilst always focussing on the bigger picture! In any business I strongly believe in an action plan and a clear sense of direction to avoid wandering around aimlessly like a headless chicken!
- How did you enter the world of traditional Chinese medicine and what attracts you to it?
I suspect that my interest Chinese medicine was already embedded deep within me since I was a teenager as I have always been interested in Asian culture, right from Siddharta to Origami.
Eventually I decided to listen to take notice of this inner calling and in 2015 I graduated as an MD (Doctor of Medicine) of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2015 after a stint in Beijing.
- What is it like to be a practising Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and how is it accepted here in Madrid?
Well, the treatments are quite diverse such as acupuncture, phytotherapy (therapy with herbs, flowers, roots), qiqong (an ancient Chinese health-improving exercise routine), tuina massage (which works on acupunctural points to remove physical and emotional blockages), dietotherapy (food can be your most effective medicine) and aromatherapy. During our 5 years living in Germany I found that TCM was very much accepted and the government even subsidised some treatments. Whereas here the concept of TCM as a solid, holistic treatment method is less known and as a result there is more scepticism. So the majority of my patients are international and already well-versed in the merits of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- What is the difference between Zen and other forms of meditation?
Zen meditation is similar to mindfulness meditation but requires more discipline and practise. People may prefer it if they are seeking both relaxation and a new spiritual path.
- People often assume that the Spanish are very similar to your Italian countrymen…is that really true?
Both Italians and Spaniards share a common “mediterreaneanity” in our temperament, zest for life, sense of family. However, it’s true to say that our different history marked many differences. Italy has been strongly influenced by the Renaissance period and artisanal skills, art and commerce are all deeply rooted in the Italian approach to life.
- If you could wave a magic wand what would you do next in your life?
I would set up my own holistic treatment center, probably somewhere along the Mediterranean coast from where I could practise Traditional Chinese Medicine, offer Japanese beauty treatments, cooking lessons and teach my most recent passion: meditation!