It wasn't so much a want to come back to Bali, but a need. Something calling me from deep in my soul, telling me that it was necessary to return. There were things that needed to be faced and elements of myself that needed to be balmed, bandaged and healed and healed. The feeling started a few months ago as a whisper in the back of my mind and grew to a roar as the weeks past.
There are some times you just have to make the pilgrimage and Ubud appears to be my Canterbury, Mecca, Salem, Stonehenge, Graceland or Roswell, where ever your spot may be, depending on your faith and where you go to restore yourself to your full spiritual strength.
I've left Ubud now and I'm down in the madness that is Seminyak. It's a different beat and a different vibe. I'm half sorry that I didn't stay the full two weeks up there instead of breaking the trip in two. Having a villa with its own pool to myself is great in many respects, but not in others.
The vibe in Ubud is gentler, friendlier. The pace is slower. You don't get harassed on the street - the drivers ask, "Taxi?" as you go by. A smile and a shake of the head and they leave you alone. Here in Seminyak you're yelled at, tooted at, called over, whistled at..."Taxi? Transport? Come look at my shop!" Going for a walk down the road is annoying and tiring. It's takes a bit of effort not to raise a middle finger at the lot of them. This is not my country. Don't engage in eye contact, be polite, keep walking.
I'm missing just being able to go for a walk. Ah well, I'm back on Thursday.
The main reason I headed to Ubud was for the healing nature of the place. There are more healers than you can poke a stick at in Ubud, but this wasn't my reason for going there.
It was time to decompress, relax and explore myself - something that I haven't done for a long time.
Ubud is the perfect place to do this.
My room at the Best Exotic Frangipani Hotel backed on the Yoga Barn. (www.theyogabarn.com). I call this "Hippy Central", but really, it's just full of peaceful alternative people who are looking to stretch, breathe, learn and enjoy all that the place has to offer.
They don't only offer yoga on the packed schedule. There is Morning Flow, Laya yoga, Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Iyengar yoga, Anusara yoga, Kundalini yoga, Yin Yoga, Pranayama, Power yoga, Acro yoga, Yoga Nidra, Restorative yoga... like I thought that yoga was just yoga, but no.
For me, I did couple of Yin Yoga sessions, lovely and gentle, long stretches in not to challenging positions. Yoga has always made me feel really inadequate - Yin yoga, which concentrates on the pelvis, thighs and lower spine was just my cup of tea.
The other things on the timetable that had my interest - Pilates - a class I enjoy at my normal gym. It's something I can tease my body into and not feel too bad about it. Looking at the teacher - a sylph of a woman with hypermobile joints who took the class of women in the age range of 25-60 was a natural performer, as are all Pilates instructors. She was also a natural dancer, another trait of most Pilates instructors. Unlike the Pilates instructors at my gym, she didn't have a funny accent, with a generic Mid-West accent. I really enjoyed these classes and have made a pact with myself to try to get to Pilates at the gym more often.
Qi Gong was another experimental class I tried. Held early on a Thursday morning I rocked up, again, with a mix of people to be greeted by the teacher walking into class. He was reminiscent of Catweazle, barefoot with a dragon head carved into his walking stick.
Years of doing bodywork as prepped me well in the idiosyncrasies of healers. "How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?" is something I'm acquainted with. This fellow is still falling many years later.
The class was interesting, spasmodic and quirky - a bit like the teacher. Having Reiki II under my belt, it made a lot of sense. It's something I wouldn't mind looking into back home.
On my first night in town I made it to a Crystal Bowl Meditation sessions. I can't tell you much about it. After making myself comfortable on the floor I can only remember the first few chords - and the next thing I was aware of was being roused from a deep meditative state.
Meditation is something that's a part of my life - has been for ages. I'm used to ups and downs that come with it. There are times when you're sitting there compiling your shopping list. There are times when you're taken away to other places. Sometimes, you're aware of these places - other times you're not. All I can tell you is that I floated back to the Best Exotic Frangipani Hotel after this session. The feeling of peace that it left me with was incredible.
The Tibetan Bowl Meditation session a few nights later was akin to a performance piece. A popular session, you have to put your name on a list. Entering the session, you're asked to remain completely silent as you take your place. What follows is an hour of enchantment in the candlelit barn. The bells are run over you, swept over your prostrate body, the reverberations taking you to some amazing places. Like the Qi Gong, not completely unknown to me as I use temple bells as a part of my healing practice. This was an enlightening session, but without the impact of the crystal bowls.
One of the reasons I wanted to return to Ubud was to go to see a Sound Healer I'd met the last time I was there. Unfortunately he was off re-certifying while I was here, but the Sound Medicine sessions were still help by other members of the collective. As always these sessions left me feeling calm, relaxed and hopeful. There's something very wonderful about sacred music, toning, harmonising and drumming. I know about the joys of disappearing to music, it happens to me regularly, but these sessions pack so much into the 90 minute session. It has to be experienced. I'll be back for more.
The last session that literally took my breath away. There's a Sunday morning class called "The Alchemy of Breath". I was a little curious about this.
A friend of mine is a Mittendorf breath worker and I've heard a lot from Fiona about how powerful her modality can be. (www.liveinthebreath.com - I recommend you have a look into this - very powerful stuff.)
Not sure what was going on, I rocked up to a very full class, asking one of the facilitators if it was the same as the work Fiona did. The answer came, "Similar, but different."
The session proved one of the more live changing sessions I've had in years - and all I had to do was breathe. We were taken through a guided breathing session, with music and voice to support us.
The first part of the exercise was to wander around the room and slowly greet people in a Hawaiian fashion. Slowing walking around in a prayer position, when we met a person we had to look them straight in the eye, bow and come back, synchronising our breathing with the other person.
You don't realise how unsettling looking a person close up and straight in the eye can be. I first come into contact with one of the healing crew, a crone with the deepest, wisest, brownest eyes I've ever met. What got me was what was she seeing in return? It was unsettling, though not in a bad way. It was like being part of a Benetton ad from the eighties, with the close ups on people's faces. It got y brain ticking.
After, the breathing section of the class started. Lay down on the mat, get comfortable, breathe in the required way (in and out through your mouth). The effects were slow at first then came over me like a wave. Turmoil, pain, upset and finally a calming resolution over the hour we were being taken on this breath journey. Around me, people were screaming, sobbing, thrashing about. What impressed me was that there were a number of facilitating healers looking after those in need. At one point the woman and brown eyes stayed with me, hand on my telling me, "It's okay to feel." At another point, another of the facilitators dried some of my tears. By this stage, the worst of the heavy emotion was over - where it came from I don't know - replaced with a feeling of calm.
The takeaways from this class hasn't left me. I floated back to the hotel and sat down with another guest. She couldn't get over the changes in my appearance. "You've changed since I saw you at breakfast - it's phenomenal. You look beautiful."
She said that she couldn't pinpoint it, but there'd been a tectonic shift in my person in the previous two hours.
All I know is that I felt different and floated about for the next day.
The following Tuesday I went to another workshop on the breath work out at the facilitator's house. An amazing and powerful four hours. As a sacred space, I can't detail all that went on, but with twenty five other journey workers, we went and found spaces in ourselves that we'd never been to. For me, the journey wasn't as powerful as the first session, more a feeling of peace came over me. As the session ended, the rain came - and all that was left to do was to stand out on Anthony's balcony, barefoot and let the tropical rain wash over me - something if a baptism into a new world.
If you've got a free morning on a Tuesday and you're in Ubud, can't recommend this experience highly enough. (www.alchemyattharc.com). It's a bit out there, but something that will shift your consciousness for the better.
I'll leave my trip to Tirta Empul for another post - the other amazing experience of my time in Ubud.
Right, I have two hours left to enjoy my villa and the joys of my own private pool. The I have a few hours to go find a massage, pedicure and some lunch, then catch a flight back home.
Then the fun will begin.