My husband and I recently returned from our honeymoon in Bali. It was his third time there and my first. Since his main goal was lots of surfing and my mine was lots of yoga, it was pretty much a no brainer for us to pick that beautiful island for our first adventure as husband and wife.
I had been told by various friends that I would fall in love with Bali, be embraced by the beautiful feminine presence of the island and feel a deep connection to the spirituality of both the people and the place itself. This was absolutely true and when our time was up, I felt a deep sadness about leaving what felt like a second home where I felt so comfortable and alive.
However our time in Bali was not all rose tinted and romantic. When you spend time in a place that energetically has so much spirituality, worship and life bursting out from every nook and cranny, you are bound to have to face yourself and your shadow at some time during your stay.
And Bali did not disappoint on that aspect. For every amazing experience, beautiful vista and moment of ease, we had our fair share of reality checks, humbling experiences and a good healthy dose of Life intervening!
So here are a couple of the humbling lessons that Bali taught us:
Follow your bliss, not your schedule
I arrived in Bali with a very rigid idea of how my days were going to look. My morning routine, where I’d do yoga, what I’d eat, how much I’d meditate. I truly believe that Life took one look at these plans, laughed and proceeded to turn things upside down in every way possible.
One aspect was my morning yoga routine which I was struggling with. It had become boring, stagnant and very much like going through the motions because I “had to” not because I was “moved to”. A week into our trip while staying at Balian Beach, I had the realisation that I was pretty much a robot performing sun salutations in our room, almost completely unaware of the beauty right outside our french doors. I dropped my practice mid salute, sat in stillness and really listened to what I deeply needed to do in that moment.
And as it turned out it was not what I expected.
A deep longing inside me wanted to sit outside in the warm morning air, in stillness, listening to the Danielle LaPorte Divine and Spiraling Outward playlist and watch the world go by. Bliss. And I did just that.
I gave myself permission to do this every morning – do exactly what I was moved to do until I felt drawn to return to my yoga practice. Surprisingly, it only took a few days of this delicious freedom before I was moved to become more active again. However I was very aware of the shift in how I approached my asana. I was feeling alive again and actively engaged in my breath and movements, rather than a robot going through the motions.
Trust when Life blocks you, something better is around the corner
An event that really jumps to mind when I think about going with the flow when Life’s little roadblocks pop is the water temple mission. Ahh the water temple mission.
It started with our journey by scooter at the crack of dawn to visit the spectacular Gunung Kawi, an 11th-century temple in Tampaksiring north east of Ubud. We had been advised that if we wanted to have the most stress free, relaxing experience of visiting this incredible site, then beating all the tourist buses and local sellers was the only way to go. After a thrilling (aka thank goodness we made it one piece!) scooter ride there, we were amazed to be the ONLY people visiting that morning. We made our way down hundreds of stairs to be greeted by stunning temples and what I can only describe as breathtaking carvings in the massive rock faces surrounding the gully. Just the two of us, incredible beauty, deep sacredness and massive amounts of energy!
After a surge of energy in both of us and a speedy return up all those stairs we left the temple as the locals were only just starting to set up their shops and still not a tourist bus in sight! Our goal was to visit two more temples nearby, including a famous water temple I had been busting my butt to visit. We’d driven all that way, why not squeeze in as much temple watching as possible.
But Life had a different idea! After spending time in SUCH an energetically strong environment I suddenly felt completely, utterly wiped out. At the risk of sounding extremely woo woo, my energetic sensitivity to certain areas, landmarks or gatherings of large numbers of people can often leave me feeling drained. My ever patient husband is used to this phenomenon sometimes occurring at inopportune times and promptly took us back to Ubud to have some down time!
Although it was the right call, I was gutted. I so wanted to visit the water temple, I wanted to bathe in the pools and be blessed by the water. It felt like a huge let down having to leave and head back to Ubud when we were only a 5min drive away from THE temple.
Here is where Life jumps in says “Why so glum, you thought that was a cool water temple? I’ll show you an amazing water temple”.
Through a few twists and turns a few days before we were due to head home we had crossed paths with an ex-pat local who offered to take us to a water temple. Phew I thought, I’ll finally make it! But the next day as our driver took us in the complete opposite direction of our previous journey, I started to feel sadness wash over me. This wasn’t the water temple I’d hoped to visit, the one that I had heard so many amazing reviews of, seen ecstatic pictures of people praying in.
We approached a car park full of tourist buses unloading and my heart sank again, not only was this not THE temple, it was going to be full of tourists since we’d headed out at mid morning. But the car continued on as our host laughed and said “we’re not going THERE, this place is far more special”.
Through windy, jungle roads we arrived in a tiny village and then proceeded to walk along a dusty road, then down many, many stairs. And then I saw it! Three beautiful waterfalls in the hillside and a handful of locals bathing and praying under them.
And as Life would have it, even though this incredible water temple was very much off on the tourist radar and therefore had no signs in English, who should we see there but our tour guide from the cycle tour we had taken at the very beginning of our trip. After kindly explaining the order we were to pray and bathe under each waterfall, he left us to have our turn.
Word’s can’t even begin to describe the experience. I was overcome with emotion from the moment I stepped into the water and cried throughout the entire experience.
Deep, joyful tears rolled down my face as I experienced connection with something
divine and much greater than me.
Each time as I felt the water beating down on my head, I released some shadows and pain I had been carrying. Standing in that cool water, feeling supported by Life, I decided I was not going to bring that baggage home with me.
Afterwards we made our way up all the stairs effortlessly and I felt as if I was light as a feather and high on life. Our little group of four all had a spring in our steps and a twinkle in our eyes. I truly felt cleansed and blessed by the experience. Lighter. Supported. Held by Life.
And on the car ride home I made a particular point of thanking Life for providing me with an experience far greater, far deeper and far more profound than the plans I had originally made and become so attached to.
When we think things have all gone pear-shaped and we’ve perhaps missed out,
sometimes you have no idea what Life has hiding just around the corner.
Love and blessings