Bali: Mindfulness on the Island of the Gods
The first time I learned about Bali was when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love.“ As cliché as it sounds, I became obsessed with the allure of Bali: the mysticism, natural beauty, and the back-to0basics lifestyle it uniquely expressed. I knew I had to make it there.
It took me more than a decade, but I made it.
Once my ticket was booked, I started to conjure ideas of what my time in Bali would look like. I thought maybe I would feel connected to the land and its people, or that my yoga practice would feel more spiritual. Perhaps its beauty would astound me and provide intuitive instructions on finding more love in my life.
But the truth was, I had no idea what I was in for.
Experiencing the Gods
Bali is known as the Island of the Gods and after arriving, I can say if Gods do live on Earth, this is their home.
I felt it during my trip to the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site very far off the beaten path with rice paddies reaching as far as the eye can see.
I was captivated driving through the paddies and humbled as I walked the paths. There was a pulse in the land. If i was quiet enough I could hear a soft hum, like a mother calling her children home.
The spirits, it felt, danced around me. It was a level of mindfulness I had never revealed in life.
A few days later I visited the Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple where the water is believed to be sacred and cannot be touched by human hands unless permitted by the high priest and after one has bestowed offerings to the Gods.
In this water was the statue of Sarasvati--the Hindu goddess of knowledge, art, and wisdom. As I stared at it, I was with awe and felt chills in my body. A guide next to me told his group that he wishes to be re-born as a fish in the scared waters. It took me by surprise, his idea of what the best possible vision of his next life could be. But the more I stared into the water, the clearer it became to me: it wasn’t the life of a fish he desired, but the honor of living in a place that can only be touched by the "best" among us.
I found myself thinking, perhaps that is what the afterlife should represent: honor.
Reaching the Peak
The moment that made me feel all the feels was climbing up Mount Batur with my Under30Experiences group and watching the sunrise. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever physically done to reach the summit. But through the journey, I experienced an internal spiritual awakening where I proved to myself that I am strong enough to do anything I am asked to do.
The reward? It was if the Gods had gifted the sky to me that morning.
These experiences all provided me with a sense of mindfulness, of connectedness, one of peace. Throughout my 20’s I struggled with the concept of God, of religion, of there being something greater than myself out there. But here in Bali, there is no question that the gods live among us, that we are connected to the land and the spirits, and that all we need is to surrender ourselves to see it.
This week I had mala beads custom made for myself, compete with rose quartz as a reminder to always lead with love. I will wear my mala beads with the upmost reverence, a reminder to continue to stay connected and remain mindful.