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November 22, 2014

What I now know for sure–Lessons from Bali

Posted by Petra Lindros
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There is no other word describing the experience of Bali and its people than MAGICAL.

The moment you land, entering the visa and immigration hall, the smell of incense, organized chaos and friendly faces take over.

After a very short time in this land of spirit, nature, kindness and rituals I returned with an urge to share some truths (my truths), that I was reminded off during my stay there. On the plane back I sat down to share ten truths and the pen just could not stop writing. These truths are in so specific order or importance. Just that lovely feeling of "Ah-ha, Yes, I see it clearly now..."

1. Less is more

The freedom of less furniture, less food, less wifi, less words, less clothes. Minimizing is maximizing. Whatever is left then becomes useful and purposeful. And that is beautiful.

2. It is in the silence the message arrive

When the 24 hours came to be silent, no reading, no writing, no nothing I noticed that I usually use silence to show my disapproval of something or someone. I also saw how I felt the silence "robbed me" the oppurtunity to share, show love and connect. But swiftly did I realize the message, that the true message has no words, no need to be spoken nor heard. It only needs to be felt and honored from within.

Bali – Yoga 

3. I hate shopping

I decided to arrive with nothing so I could buy new "stuff". That is what I am supposed to do right? Because it is cheap. It is unusual. It is from Bali. But after complete "overload" of bargains, shops and negotiations my whole inner being revolted and I surrendered to the realization that I do not need anything, do not want anything, just a few little things for my son and hubby. It was so freeing to let go of the "need", that was not even my "need" from the beginning.

4. Nature is the source of connection

Each morning we enjoyed the sunrise, there were many Balinese people admiring the sunrise as well, giving food to the beach dogs, just being part of this miracle that each new day really is. I have never felt as connected with my mom, as being there on that beach, with the waves, with the cycles of the sun coming and going... From nature we come, to nature we go.

Bali & Yoga 

5. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing

Massages are really affordable (read cheap), so it is almost a crime to not have them when you are there. In the end of the week, I started to get sore in my back from the massages. My face massage was nice but not heavenly as it was the first day. Overindulgence for me, leads to my sense numbing a bit and each time needing something a bit more or different. I missed to actually look forward to a massage and not having it just for the sake of having it.

6. Say only what is true, kind and necessary

I realize that many of my words are not shared with a purpose. Just to fill out some pause or space in between what is really important. Filling out that very important space of NOTHING, where the soul can make itself heard and alive.

7. Always be kinder than you feel

I have a tendency to judge and create a story about a situation/person without really knowing what their history is. To avoid that, It helps me to see a connection between me and that person, even if the only connection is that we are two human beings struggling to make it to the end of the day.

8. Absence grows the heart fonder.

Reminds me of the Madonna song "miles away", where it is somehow easier to see clearly what and who you have in your life and how much you love and appreciate that. And trying to stay connected with that feeling even when you are close again, that is my sincere wish.

9. Everyone needs a soulmate.

I have mine. She is the person that knows all the nasty, funny, good parts of me and still loves me. That kind of love a parent (usually and hopefully) feels for their child. The spoken and unspoken support of everything you do and do not do. Never a question why or why not. That is an incredible gift. I treasure it in my heart. And being in Bali with your soulmate, makes the experience more magical.

Yoga in Bali 

10. Food cooked with love heals.

When food is prepared with a purpose ALONG with love and compassion, there is an amazing healing that can take place. The Prana, life force, can come back very quickly, cells will rejuvenate and muscles, bones and connective tissues will all get stronger.

Yoga Bali & Healthy Food 

11. Kindness goes a long way

This was from the moment I stepped on Bali ground. First encounter with Immigration control (US has something to learn), that you felt welcomed and not like a criminal. It continued in the arrival hall, where I was completely lost. A friendly soul saw me, took care of me, offered to make necessary calls. Not wanting anything in return. Bali people like to stay close to you. Smile to you. Eye contact with you. They see their soul connection to you. When they are kind to you, they are kind to themselves.

Gratitude • Yoga • Bali12. If you forget everything else, stick with gratitude

We did many Balinese rituals, each individual Bali person belongs to a temple and they do believe that it is not just people who have souls, but animals and everything in nature. So the rituals honor all that is around, beneath and above us. The last part of every offering is Gratitude....our teacher always said, if you forget the order of the offering, just stick to Gratitude. And it went a long way.

13. Only stop observing the breath when you are dead.

When the physical experience get to intense, we can always use the mind, draw the awareness to a deeper level towards the sensation of the body and from there finding the breath. The breath will completely soften the edges of the actual physical experience, even though it might not miraculously remove it.

14. Karma is only a bitch if you are.

An attendee of the yoga retreat wanted to buy some souvenir and did not see the shop owner. He returned after 15 minutes and she asked if he was not worried someone was going to steal anything while he he was gone. He smiled and simply said that is his or her Karma.

15. Ask and you shall receive

When I was leaving Bali, I had to send my hand luggage through security and x-ray machines. The security officer opens up my plastic bag with my cremes and liquids. Feeling a bit embarrassed about the amount of bottles I had with me on such a short trip, I thought he was going to make fun of me. Instead who looks at a little bottle of perfume, that was given to me on the airplane. He takes it up and smells it. "Oh, that smells lovely. You only have one of these?" I said yes it is lovely isn´t it. He still holds it, I ask him if he wants it. "Oh YES, please that would be lovely".

16. The grass is not greener on the other side

On our last day, the group was going to go to a lovely waterfall a few hours away. Part of me wanted to go, so I could see more of the island, to not "miss out" on any experience. But I had to reconnect to the purpose of my trip again: rest, recharge and reconnect with myself. So staying putt, staying present, enjoying what is in front of me together with my soulmate became my last day. The waterfall will be there for another trip, another time. But that moment with myself, that would not come back in that shape or form.

17. Never trust a weather forecast

I knew the rainy season was to arrive. I kept looking at the forecast. Weeks before they said my arrival date would be 100% thunderstorms. And the 3 following days the just never changed, even to the day I left it said the same. I tried all different kinds of forecast sites, but they all agreed. I came to terms with it. What will be will be. I will still enjoy. During the whole week we had 2 rains for 20 minutes. First one when we had the gratitude offering for my mom on the beach (but those 5 minutes do not count, since that was just my mom saying "Hello, I am here and I can only show it with complete thunder and drenching of the whole set up guys have done".) Second time was during a night, morning was fresh and the garden even greener than I thought possible.

Yoga in Bali – Terrace view 

Bali Yoga Fisherman18. A true friend is who stays on the shore, awaiting you after fighting the stormy battle

During that evening when we had the local priest blessing my mom on the beach, there was one fisherman "stuck" out in the storm and thunder. Needless to say there were no pier-light guiding this man to the shore. For about 40 minutes his friends stayed there, waiting and supporting his safe return. When he came in, drenched as a cat, he pulls out a cigarette, holds up the biggest tuna fish I had seen and his friends take care of all the cleaning up. I almost went up apologizing for my moms little outburst, explaining that drama was how she felt alive. But I did not.


19. To strangers, I am the strange one

Our first day there, we were on the beach, watching the waves and feeling the power from the sea. Suddenly a big group comes closer and closer from a nearby temple. I thought there were looking at the waves as well, but the soulmate said they kept looking at us. I kept saying it is all in your mind...why would they look at us....Well, they got closer and closer, they pointed and smiled and suddenly they were next to us and held up there cameras and asked PLEASE if they could take our they had NEVER seen two blondes in their lives....during 20 minutes they all took turns, with the children, the grandmas and grandpas, they laughed and hugged us, and it really felt like family, like a longtime reunion.

Yoga • Family • Bali 

20. Offering without asking for something in return

The offerings and rituals made a big impact on me. Not the ritual in itself, but how that energy, the vibration is contagious and benefits everything around. The whole doing for the sake of the doing, not for wanting something in return. The complete open surrender to something that is bigger and better than yourself. How freeing.

21. Feel the fear and do it anyway

Echo Beach is one of the greatest surf spots in the world. Those waves were huge. I admired the fear the surfers have to feel and still paddle out catching each wave, not knowing where it will bring you. Where fear goes away, only love can exist.

22. Swimtrunks with only a sock covering private parts are not sexy

As we came to Echo beach for the first time, there was this man sunbathing, and from far away I though I must have missed something in the guide books, and that this was a nudist beach. As we got closer I saw that he was simply wearing one of those "socks-that-cover-the-private-part" and I felt incredibly overdressed in my sundress.

23. We should strive for the qualities of the Bambu.

Where ever we went they seemed to be building and constructing new houses, business stands, cafes...and bambu was used either alone or in combination with building material we are more used to see in the west. The qualities of the bambu is what us humans should strive for in they say in the Zen tradition: Be strong but flexible, be empty inside, rebound after strong turmoil, be ready to be used with as little preparation as possible.

24. Self worth leads to integrity. (or state your boundaries with a smile)

I had this very great massage therapist who worked miracles in my back and shoulders, and I asked him if he could work on the saturday I was leaving since I would be flying a very long way back to Spain. He smiled and said "So sorry madam, Saturday is my day off for family". I was amazed and very inspired by the integrity he showed to to stick to the values of himself, family and free time. I need to use that a bit more, when I get requests in awkward hours and during the weekend.

So to "retreat", can mean to withdraw from enemy sources...but for me it was not drawing back from something bad. Just a step back, to reconnect and recharge this vessel on this journey, our body. Just like we charge and tune up any other tool in our life, we need to do the same with our physical body. Remember that when we are on an airplane and the oxygen mask will drop down, they say to first place on ourselves then our loved and near ones. To practice self care is not being selfish.



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