#1 Be inspired by a culture that gives daily offerings of gratitude
Let me take you back to the Bali of over 30 years ago
when electricity didn’t extend beyond the main road of Ubud and the Ibu at the rickety wooden warung on the corner still served her customers topless.
I’d come for a week and stayed a year. I was seduced on my very first kersone-lit night in Bali, against all the odds.
The way night falls quickly in the tropics had me in shock. A blink after sunset, and I was sitting in pitch black darkness in my simple rented house in the ricefields.
Without warning, a chorus of frogs erupted, so loud I couldn’t hear myself think. Then began the rhythmic, never-ending clanging beat of a gamelan orchestra drifting across the rice paddies late into the night. Every inch of the coffin-dark night felt alive with spirits and souls of ancestors awaiting rebirth.
Anywhere else I might have felt scared on that first night, but on the Island of Gods, I felt embraced by a timeless rhythmic harmony. It was the same nightly lullaby that had me spell-bound for a year.
Strangely, almost everyone I met on that first trip insisted that I’d missed the ‘real’ Bali by five years. That was in 1986, decades before Eat Pray Love, when nobody in Ubud did yoga and vegan was a word you looked up in the dictionary.
Every time I’ve been back since then, I was told I should have come five years earlier. But Bali just keeps going. Tripadvisor named it one of the best places to visit in 2017.
So what is it about Bali?
I am just back from a week in Bali. Retracing my steps, I located my long-demolished house somewhere on the stretch of land where the Yoga Barn now stands. My rented little piece of paradise has become a mecca for soul seekers, goddesses in Lululemon and self-declared gurus with man buns. Today the essence of Bali comes bottled in pricey jars of jamu and coconut water.
Some things just never change
But you don’t have to go far to find the ‘real’ Bali decades after I was first told I had missed it.
Beyond all the hype and development, Bali remains firmly anchored in its spirituality and cultural traditions. The daily ritual, the rhythm of ceremony, the acts of devotion and worship, is what make Bali such a special place where you can find healing and a sense of deep connection.
So why should you come on retreat to Bali with me?
Be inspired by the beauty
The first thing you will notice in Bali are the little acts of beauty everywhere you go. You’ll see little altars, deities decorated in flaming marigold and bright red hibiscus and little baskets freshly woven from palm leaves, filled with sweet-smelling flower petals, bits of rice on a banana leaf, topped with a lit incense stick.
Feel nourished by a culture that gives daily offerings of gratitude
We will learn about Balinese offering making from a member of our Balinese host family. Every day all over the island women will spend hours preparing small offerings, up to 15 per family compound. We’ll weave small baskets from coconut leaf and learn about the complex system of meaning attached to the items offered to the unseen gods and spirits of the island in the daily canang.
You’ll learn about the philosophy of making and giving the daily offering as a selfless act, that is in part meditation, in part a gift of gratitude and a form of supplication to ensure that daily life remains in balance and undisturbed. The local munku will bless our offerings at the village temple.
Fall into a different rhythm
Let me take you to a secluded valley in the pristine mountains of central Bali and allow yourself to fall into the gentle rhythm of this island and the sense of oneness of the land, the Balinese people and what is unseen but believed to be alive.
Watching the Balinese complete the most basic daily tasks with focus on beauty, connection to the present moment and gratitude, we learn about a culture that cherishes the process as much as the result.
The daily ritual of gentle supplication, offering making, prayer and worship of what is unseen makes Bali a place of gentle balance and serenity.
Allow the gentleness of Bali to soften you,
let go of tension, be easy on yourself and silence the inner critic so that your writing can flow from your centre.
Tune into the soothing soundtrack of water
The beautiful eco resort that will be your home for a week is fed by a crystal clear mountain stream that also produces the resort’s energy.
This self-sufficient speck of paradise is not quite the experience by kerosene lamp I had in my first year in Bali, but in this secluded valley, the nightly darkness is filled with the rhythm of flowing water, the call of a gecko, the chorus of frogs after rain and, of course, spirits.
Draw inspiration from Balinese culture & sharpen your observational skills
Stepping away from the demands of your daily life and the chatter of social media, will open you up. Every day we draw inspiration and wisdom from Balinese culture and its century-old traditions so different from your own. Balinese culture practices harmony, happiness and connectedness through daily ritual and prayer.
You’ll leave behind our worries, fears and ambitions and surrender to the lushness of nature, its shapes, forms, colours, sounds and smells. You’ll be surrounded by cascading rice paddies and food forest, planted, worked and harvested according to Balinese cosmology.
Living in this verdant lushness and atuned to Bali’s gentle spirituality will bring freshness to your writing, sharpen your observational skills and your powers of description.
Do you need any more reasons to join me in Bali for a week of writing, yoga and mindfulness?
Stay tuned for the next post or get in touch.
Let’s chat via Skype, email or messenger.
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