Meditation expertise only one of Dr. Maria Marotti’s talents
Dr. Maria Marotti has been a facilitator for the meditation group at the Breast Cancer Resource Center in Santa Barbara for more than 15 years. Every Monday at 12:15 p.m., she leads BCRC clients through a meditation practice via Zoom.
Few people realize that the unassuming volunteer was born in Rome, earned her degree in foreign languages and literature at the University of Venice and her master’s and doctorate degrees at UCSB.
In addition to teaching at UCSB and UC Santa Cruz, Dr. Marotti has also written four novels, the most recent one “The Etruscan Princess.” She is also the author of books on literary criticism.
Her scholarly publications include “Italian Women Writers from the Renaissance to the Present,” “The Duplicating Imagination: Twain and the Twain Papers” and “Gendering Italian Fiction.”
Works of fiction include “A Question of Class” and many short stories. “Memoirs of a Scoundrel Dog” is a book of canine humor based on her own life with an entertaining rascal of a dog.
In the foreword to “The Etruscan Princess,” Dr. Bernadette Luciano, a professor at the University of Auckland, writes “Astute California detective Nick Fusco joins his fiancée Valentina, a professor who specializes in film noir, for a long-awaited trip to Italy.
“But the mysterious disappearance of Valentina’s colleague and roommate transforms the dream vacation into a perilous journey. Maria Marotti guides the reader on an intimate and sensual voyage that crisscrosses the Italian peninsula, from urban Rome with its piazze and landmarks, its surrounding quaint villages, Etruscan ruins, and lakeside castles, to a bustling Naples and its sinister underbelly, to Venice’s artisanal islands, and to the picturesque towns of the Cinque Terre … This is armchair travel at its best: satisfying the appetites of both the uninitiated to Italy and the veteran Italophile.
“Informed by Marotti’s nuanced and wide-ranging knowledge of Italian culture and peppered with her experience in the quirky halls of academia, the novel is perhaps most memorable for its transmission of a profound understanding of the fragility and generosity of the human spirit.”
“I’ve been a writer most of my life. It has been rewarding, and it has helped me keep my balance even when it was hard,” she told the News-Press.
Dr. Marotti has also been a hypnotherapist who helped smokers quit the habit and other things along that line.
“I came to Santa Barbara in 1975 on a Fulbright Scholarship at UCSB, and I came to BCRC in 2002 as a Reiki practitioner,” she said, explaining that Reiki is a Japanese form of alternative medicine called energy healing. “Reiki practitioners use a technique called palm healing or hands-on healing through which a ‘universal energy’ is said to be transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to encourage emotional or physical healing.
“Reiki is for me one of the most rewarding practices. It starts with getting in touch with the spiritual guides and then with our inner healer and then with the client’s guides and their inner selves. It is wonderful to see clients come in with their pain and leave without or at least without some of it.”
Dr. Marotti has studied several meditation techniques for more than 40 years and has practiced them on and off for just as long.
“Meditation creates a peaceful state of mind. It lowers anxiety by making us more aware of our ability to get in touch with the inner self. By practicing meditation on a regular basis, we gain control of our anxiety and the recurring thoughts and mental habits, which are behind it. If practiced on a regular basis, meditation can foster healing.”
She said that one of the biggest misconceptions about meditation is that “it is boring. I think our mind is very entertaining if we are willing to detach from it and just observe it.
“Some people also think that meditation slows us down and makes us passive. That, too, is not necessarily true. It may make us less reactive. That may create more peace and love in our lives.”
Dr. Marotti offers the following advice for someone who has never meditated but wants to get started: “Begin by sitting comfortably and notice your breath. Count your inhalation and your exhalation and then focus on your breathing and the thoughts crossing your consciousness.”
When asked about her thoughts on struggling with isolation and anxiety during the pandemic, Dr. Marotti said, “It was hard not to be able to travel and go to Italy and see family and friends. I love animals and having a dog and a cat helped me. Unfortunately, my beloved and super smart dog died in October. Big loss. I live with my partner, and that has helped, too. Ultimately, writing, publishing and marketing my writing has also helped me a lot. Zoom and being able to teach the guided meditation class has been a gift.”