As I arrive in Bali, the change in climate is the first things to touch me, walking out of the airport the warm humid air caresses my skin and the sea of smiles of people waiting to welcome each person to Bali, feels so different already. As we are driving art, statues, and scooters are everywhere. The 1 1/2 hour drive from the airport to the beautiful village of Nyuh Kuning, is like a mental massage, my whole being relaxes, the cultures and pace of Bali begin to allow me to release and reflect on all I am leaving behind and all I hope to welcome and transform as Bali for me is always about transformation.
Arriving the the small, clean, green village of Nyuh Kuning my home in Bali always feels special. Each person welcomes you with a big smile and it’s not forced or fake, the Balinese smile with their heart and it will touch yours. My bed is covered in flowers as this tropical island gives us beauty all around and it’s even captured in the towels folded into a beautiful swan.
Soon the sounds of Bali – the Gamelan begin as it’s approaching Nyepi – the Balinese New Year and preparations are under ways to prepare for Ogoh Ogoh night, where giant statues are paraded thru the streets, the Gamelan band will play and all the evil spirits will be ushered away, it a time to reflect on what you need to release and replace as Nyepi the day following is a day of silent meditation and prayer. I love these traditions and rituals and each year Eat Pray Doula allows you to arrive early or stay late depending on which workshop you will attend to enjoy this colorful, traditional festival and make it your own time for reflection and rest.
I have purchased a sarong, Kebiah and sash as anyone is welcomed into their Hindu temple ceremonies if you wear traditional dress and are not on you menstrual moon and/or grieving. Ceremonies are blessings that include blessing with flowers, rice, incense and water. The Balinese is a culture of acceptance, and any religion or beliefs are welcome. You are invited to pray with them to your Divine and in your way as long as you honor theirs. If you would like to enjoy temple ceremony be sure to bring a t-shirt that covers your shoulders, a light scarf you can tie around your waist and we will be giving you a sarong or you might enjoy shopping at the market in Ubud for your own sarong and if you pick material you can have a kebaih made to fit in just a few hours, something I wear to nice dinners and events at home as they are so beautiful!
I was invited this year to my friend Congtit’s family ceremony to bless their new home and temple. Each family compound has it’s own temple. Each ceremony is started in the family temple and this day we go to their current home to their family temple to gather the spirit of the ancestors who are here and invite them to join us at the new temple. The older women chant for almost an hour as the priest goes into trance with his own chants and ringing of the bell, and different members take turns doing their blessings with flower, incense, water and rice. Although I don’t understand the words, I feel the sacredness and connect with my own ancestors. The women welcome me to sit with them, huddling close and the language of our heart makes me feel completely welcomed.
When this ceremony at the old family temple is over the women gather their baskets of fruit and flowers as offering onto their head to process to the next temple, followed by the village Gamalon and the family. I join them in walking thru the village to the temple of the deceased – the ancetory’s ground for more blessings form the village/family priest. After a shorter time here we process again to the river temple. more blessings and offerings and then onto the families new home. The Gamalon settles in the shade, the local priest blesses the ground and a high priest from a far away village has joined us and ascends to his seat high in the temple to begin his chanting, bell ringing, and prayers that look like a trance. The family and friend gathered begin a celebration, great food for all and soon men dressed in Balinese costumes with traditional masks entertain us, making everyone smile and laugh. this ancient tradition is to bring song, music, dance and happiness to the new home. The village has come out for this day to bless this new home for Congtit’s aunt and uncle.
I was not able to join them the day before but that too had been a full day ceremony with Ganesha to remove any obstacles from the new Temple, and today the second day to bring in all they would like here. Two days of processions, praying at the village and home temples. I think about when we move home, when we have life events, what does our village and family do? How do we honor and celebrate life changes. I am humbled with the connection each person has to not only each other but how the past is honored to move to the present, and the value of joy, happiness, connection and love. My saying we birth the way we live, makes me think we need more rituals in our everyday life, or ways to come together and honor or past, remove our obstacles before we move forward.
I invite you to not only join me, Ibu Robin and Katherine for Eat Pray Doula, but maybe like me to learn about a new culture, to reflect within on what you would like to release and what you would like to bring forward to birth and life and give yourself the gift of nurturing your mind, body and spirit in Bali with us. I hope you will consider enjoying Ogoh Ogoh day and the silence of Nyepi to be a part of an ancient Balinese ceremony and at night on Nyepi when the island is dark, no lights, no car, no planes, make sure to look up at the night sky where you will see more stars than ever in your life, it’s as if you can reach up and touch them. I take time to lay outside and dream.
P.S. Another way to nurture you body and spirt is with Balinese massage. Massages in Bali are incredible and so reasonable – and if you enjoy a head massage and hair washing you must check out Cantika or for a more expensive massage in a magical location visit Taksu Spa. We will arrange massage therapist to visit our villa every day after our Eat Pray Doula workshop so you can book massages by the pool waterfall or in your room.