When my dream brought me to Bali, I had no idea that it is such a Hindu place. I was equally ignorant of how important water is for the Hindu people. I simply had this Ulun Danu temple in my dream and since I have always felt so drawn to water and this is a water temple, I set off. I wrote about my experience in Ulun Danu and the connection through rain and meditation in a previous text on this blog. But there were more stunning experiences for me on this island that deepened my spiritual awareness and helped me understand what water truly is to me.
Many people come to Bali with great expectations, believing (partially thanks to the Eat, Pray, Love movie, partially due to some holiday snaps of their friends which often avoid the raw reality) that it is a pristine clear island with handsome men and loving, spiritual people that will always bring a smile to your face. Well, here are the ten things you should know about Bali before going there (especially if you are Western and have never been to Asia).
OK. It IS a bit of a cliché, right? Everybody says you have to see this artistic Mekka of Ubud with all its yoga studios, vegan and vegetarian restaurants, rice fields all around, a great many temples (known from the first Indiana Jones movie) and even art galleries and museums, where you can buy most of the products you would generally expect to be able to buy in the Western world.
Bali is the land of 20,000 temples. This gives some indication of the importance that spirituality has played in the island’s history, and how it continues to play a key role today.
Bali is and island sought by many for its spiritual vibes. You find specialized centres and Ayurvedic healing centres in various spots on the island. As for meditation, you can study Vipassana, for instance, the so-called intuitive learning or meditation of insight. Although it is a form of teaching referring directly to Siddhártha Gautama (and this deriving from a Buddhist base), the technique itself is not subject to any religious teachings.
To begin with: anybody going to Bali should take the chance and visit these islands since they truly are a gem. Located cca 45 mins away by a speed boat from Amed, these islands are renowned for their white sand beaches and pristine water where one can snorkel or dive and to admire varied marine life, corals, fish, and – above all – the sea turtles.
I did not use to be much of a believer. I have been a dreamer ever since I remember though. My dad used to tell me when I was a teenager that I need to get back to earth. He meant it well. And I love my parents. But I am truly glad I did not follow this particular advice obediently. Because there IS more than just the earth and our senses. And the real balance lies in the understanding of that.
Wherever you find yourself on the island, you can enjoy a great meal (Balinese or generally Indonesian cuisine is tasty and healthy, largely vegetarian and vegan), meditate (although some monasteries are crowded with tourists and meditation rooms and centres just like that) and practice yoga.
Eat, Pray, Love: This book by Elizabeth Gilbert, or rather its film adaptation with Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, is the most common association with the Indonesian island of Bali. And yes, you can eat well, pray, and fall in love here easily. “moving water”
I have no exact plan. I start in Bali and then I shall see. I just want to flow with the wave of life now. I have the desire to experience what I learn and teach in yoga. Our lives are the people around us and our interactions with them. Maybe it’s naive and crazy, but it’s me.