April 25th, 2017
Road-rage incidents in the news or planetary alignment freak-outs could be a result of the compounding stress. I know winter to spring for me used to be a harsh adjustment which was weird because it should be wonderful. It's SPRING!
I would be right there with you guys this year but I just got back from Bali.
Doing research to find more spiritual, internal sort of journeys for my bucket list I came upon the very spiritual Balinese new year celebration called the Nyepi.
While most of southeast Asia is Buddhist or Muslim, the Bali religion remains close to 90% Hindu. It makes for beautiful drives through their video-game-like crazy driving practices where there are no rules and everyone is in an almost-head-on collision. Temples are elaborate and adored with beautiful statues and gargoyles. Offerings are brought three times a day so the streets and businesses are littered with fresh flowers at any part of the day. Town centers erect majestic Hindu gods like Siva, Ganesha and Vishnu that call for a double or triple-take to really take it all in.
"Can you please slow down? Can you take that round-about again?" -me to my driver through just about every town.
The best part? Their saka calendar is always changing but when it's over it's time for the Nyepi, or the new year. This celebration begins with each town spending weeks if not months on a huge demon statue to parade to the main town. Made from styrofoam that is painted, they can appear very large and very real. Driving from the airport to my hotel a few days earlier we could see large tarps covering the entrance to an open air garage where their statue was being made. They are called "Ogoh Ogoh" and represent all that is evil. They pay tribute to them with the parade then allow them to take over on the day of silence. Then they burn them and have another year at peace.
The day of silence is practiced by everyone in Bali. Even visitors are not allowed to leave their hotel or hostel or homestay. The Bali airport is the only airport in the world that closes for a holiday. There is no electricity, entertainment, indulgences, eating, working or traveling allowed at all for the 24 hours of Nyepi. This is the time for self-reflection and forgiveness.
For my Yogis there is absolutely no doubt that you need to visit here if you haven't already. Bali is the Yogi mecca, and not just for Hindu or Buddhists. Most of the visitors I met at the Yoga Barn had decided to move there and were the happiest and most centered white people I've ever met. The Yoga Barn? This place is the mothership of that culture in Bali. There is a cafe, classrooms, hotel and of course yoga. This is where I experienced my first "Ecstatic Dance." Rules are no talking, no unwanted advances to another human, and just let yourself go to the music. I could have easily enjoyed this except it was really hot up there and I am on 700 neutrophils at the moment. That means no immune system to fight infection, so I had to be very careful. (Spoiler alert! I'm healthy and alive!).
For travelers that want to take this spring journey, the same time as Nyepi is the Bali Spirit Festival, to which I didn't make. I was doing a DreamLab retreat in the jungles of Ubud. I only heard great things about the Spirit Festival and if I had planned my trip better I could have caught at least one of the three days. Looking at the videos and photos it looks like a Wanderlust on steroids.
Everything happens for a reason. My own ventures proved to be much more rewarding. I'll write a separate piece on the retreat when I can get some time carved out. I have to purge my closets first!