As predicted, I’m still banging on about my September trip to Bali. Beyond the Bintang and the braids, it is a deeply spiritual place with much to teach us.
Daily Devotions: The Balinese seem to be constantly in a state of prayer and ritual. They make offerings, called Canang sari, to the gods and spirits every morning. These are in the form of flowers, food, water, money and incense. The Canang sari are placed everywhere throughout Bali. Outside each shop and home, on the footpaths and in fields and in great numbers outside temples and holy places.
There were rituals to welcome us and to farewell us, the women of the family we visited spent much of their day making the Canang sari for the next day and our guides stopped to pray halfway up the mountain we climbed. This is part of their everyday lives. On one drive, we passed a funeral and a wedding. Both were colourful community affairs with lots of offerings, food, family, friends, music and smiling. Surely, we in the West can take a leaf out of the Balinese Book and celebrate every moment of life and find the time to say a quick prayer of thanks, take a few moments of appreciation for nature and its blessings and state some hopes for the future daily.
One step at a time: Part of our itinerary was to climb a mountain. While our teachers had kept this as a surprise, many of us (me included) didn’t read the memo to bring sensible walking shoes so we shuffled up Mount Batur in our slippery sandals or slippy slip-ons. “Let’s not downplay it”, said one of my fellow yoginis, “we didn’t just climb a mountain. We hiked an active volcano”. Awakening at 1.30am we took a bus to the bottom of the site where we where met by our guides and given a torch each. The reason for this became clear as we began our ascent upwards in the pitch black.
You could literally only see the spotlighted step you were taking. The path was pretty much vertical and composed of loose rocks and gravel. It was incline training to the max as we slipped and puffed and sweated and swore up. It was hot and sweaty and then freezing when the wind blew. The guides were like mountain goats leaping sure-footedly from rock to rock sometimes whilst smoking! It was challenge to all of non-natives and we all faced our own personal challenges too. Mine was feeling dizzy if I looked up or down, others faced bouts of breathlessness, fatigue or twinges from old knee injuries. It just goes to show that everyone is fighting their own battle and we should have empathy for it.
Ignorance is bliss: We finally made it to the top and watched the sunrise which was spectacular. I heard we’d be collected by the driver and thought that this meant our hike was over. Not so. As we began our descent, it became clear that we were descending most of the way down. And the way down was as challenging if not more challenging than the way up. It was lighter but it was still a lesson to stay focussed on each step because if I looked around, I tended to trip. I thought that if I’d known that we were going to descend, it would’ve meant that I would’ve started anticipating and stressing about it during the sunrise. And this wouldn’t have changed the fact that we were going down. So, it was another good lesson in one step at a time, one thing at a time, to be in and enjoy the present moment rather than projecting into the future.
Love and light and blessings and Bali spirit xxx Yvette
Canang sari (read: “chanang“) is one of the daily offerings made by Balinese Hindus to thank the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in praise and prayer. Canang sari will be seen in the Balinese temples, on small shrines in houses, and on the ground or as a part of a larger offering. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canang_sari
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