Bali Body-Mind-Soul Silent Retreat
Detox, healthy food, raw food, yoga, meditation, or simply taking care of yourself - no matter what your choice is, be sure that it is a step closer to your healthier and happier you! It is not a destination, it's a journey. It should become part of you, part of your daily routine, it should become your lifestyle. It needs to resonate with you, it needs to mirror your life principles, your beliefs, your desires.
You need to know why you are eradicating you old, embedded patterns, you need to know the purpose, otherwise there is not enough strength to pull it out, not enough motivation to sustain the change and to stay focused on your journey. I am not saying there are no detours on your journey, that is the usual and most common path, I am just implying that even after detours you should have enough reason and motivation to get back on the right track. Why would you want to do it? How would it make you feel?You must be aware that even then, knowing your purpose, it will not be as easy as you imagine. That is also human. It is part of our journey to take two steps forward and then one back, sometimes even three steps forward but four back, which makes us all human beings, therefore perfectly normal. What I learned so far on my journey is to listen to my body.
It is unbelievable how it speaks to me so clearly and so vividly, only if I pay attention and listen to it. Sometimes we force ourselves too much, sometimes we think that something is best for us in this certain moment, while at the same time, we are rejecting it. There must be a reason for rejection, in this case, slow down, stop, think about it, reflect, take a few breaths, and then see how and if you still wish to proceed. Maybe it is not the right time. It takes time for changes to happen.
It took you a life-time to get where you are now, why do you think you can change it over the night? Our journey is compiled of our lessons, of small steps. There is a lesson in every step and in every situation. Becoming aware of what is going on around you and inside of you is a already a big achievement and it is 50% of your path to your goal and destination.
The reason why I had a need for such an introduction is because it has been over a year since my last detox. In the meantime, it has been challenging. I must admit that I haven't been so "clean" and disciplined. Despite the awareness, despite the knowledge and the know-how, it was still a challenge to stay on the right path of eating clean and healthy. And that is perfectly OK. I had to acknowledge this and face it. I knew that the moment would come again when I will feel the need to get back on the healthier track. No need to feel guilty or to punish yourself for that. It's part of the journey. Challenging life situations that lead us to emotional eating, are great triggers and tests of our own will and determination. Therefore, after a year and a half, I finally decided it was time to get back to my old ritual of indulging myself with a nice, useful holiday. This time I wanted something new, a place where I still haven't been, something I still haven't done. Again I was searching for something but not sure what I was looking for. Actually, due to my emotional state, my initial idea was to do a Vipassana meditation.
Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion. The technique is taught at ten-day courses that requires hard, serious work. There are a few steps to the training: to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation. The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one's attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. The mind gets calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of Vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them. Finally, in the end participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings. The entire practice is actually a mental training. Just as we use physical exercises to improve our bodily health, Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.
I wanted to spend 10 days in total silence with myself. Me, myself and I are my favorite company and I wanted to explore this world more deeply. But, I couldn't find the right timing and location do so, so I was searching for something similar but at some nice location. And then appeared Bali!
Peter Wrycza, a certified International Academy for Transformational Coaching and Leadership was organizing 10-Day Time-Out in his Nirarta Centre for Living Awareness. This program has as its goal to support deep transformation in individuals, to lead to inner awakening to our true nature and birthright and to unfold life in Wholeness. Since I was looking for a silent retreat, I thought this was a great opportunity. Not full 10 days as Vipassana is, but 5 days, which seemed optimal. Let's not exaggerate the first time :) The experience was interesting. Revelationary. I arrived to Nirarta after a juice cleanse of one week duration, so I was pretty well refreshed and felt amazing. The place Sidemen is about an hour or two drive from Ubud. It is a small village and the center is located in the amid of rice fields. Once you are on the grounds of Nirarta, you can feel peace and quiet. Amazing. Your soul and body are screaming of joy and happiness.
First three days, I spent with Peter discussing my life, my aspirations, my issues, figuring out my behavior patterns and then pointing out what I wanted to discover and get the answers about. I needed these 'questions' noted down before entering into my silent period. Silent period was 5 days long. It is imagined to be in a house by the river. No electricity, no houses around it. This would have been a bit too large bite for me, so I stayed in my room where I stayed since I arrived to the center. The difference between staying in the house by the river and staying in the room was that I was to stay in the room during the 5 days, while in the house I could have gone out into the garden, to the river, etc. Anyway, I chose the room and its four walls, to make it even more challenging.
The first 2 days were OK. It was a fruit diet only, no reading, no writing, no phones (of course), no walking around, nothing. Just me, myself and I in a small room. I could not meditate, I was too nervous. I couldn't do anything. I just sat, watched the marvelous view of the volcano and the woods around, I contemplated, I guess. I was supposed to get the answers in this silent period, but no answers were coming to my mind.
On the third day I decided that I should break the silence as it was obviously not working for me! So, I wrote to Peter saying I am giving up, there was no point of me sitting there and wasting our time. I put the paper in the bucket in front of the door (which is how we communicated if I needed something), and then I waited impatiently for his reply, hoping he would allow me to get out of the room. But, his reply was: ''Don't break the contract you made with yourself. Stay true to yourself. The best ideas, revelations come in the last moment.'' This made me even more furious and impatient. But I stayed. Those were the 2 longest days of my life! I figured out that the sun is on my balcony every day in the afternoon, so I used it for sunbathing, since I haven't had much time in the sun. I decided to go back tanned :)
Finally the last day arrived. I cannot explain how slowly the time was passing. I couldn't meditate. I couldn't do yoga. I was just wondering around the small room and waiting for this 6th morning to come so that I could get out of this crazy venture of silence. Finally the night has fallen and I was in bed. I restrained also from using the light during the silence days, which means I was in bed by 7pm, every day. I even fell asleep and couldn't wait for the morning, thinking how this silence had absolutely no use for me.
I woke up. It was still dark. I looked at the watch, it was only 4am. I tossed and turned, I couldn't sleep. My brain was processing God knows what, and then... All of a sudden these ideas started coming, one after another, the answers to my questions. This moment was amazing! I still have chills when I think of it. It really was the last moment, it was probably the moment when my brain gave up and was not expecting anything but 6am to get out of silence.
This is actually when my soul spoke out loud enough to be heard from my noisy mind. It was amazing. It just started flowing, amazingly. I panicked as I thought it would flow away and I would not remember it, so I wrote it all down (I breached the agreement and wrote things down). The next morning, when I finally came out of the room, it was beautiful. The greenery around me, the terrace of the restaurant was so appealing, I sat down and enjoyed my healthy drink and enjoyed the moment, I enjoyed life. I was worried that I would not have something to talk about and process with Peter once I would be out, but after this last night, there was plenty to talk about.
We wrapped it up with our 2-day long discussions, suggestions and advises what to do and how to proceed on my deeper spiritual self-discovery and journey and off I went. I headed to a place where my friend Ilona, an amazing and brave woman who I met in Nirarta the first evening when I arrived, was waiting for me. This was a cherry on top. A hotel with great spa facilities, pool, beach, sun, sea, good food, beautiful environment... and civilization. I needed this. It is also healthy to be among people (chosen ones!) - from time to time :)
Goa Gajah or so called Elephant Cave
When I travel, I mainly focus on wellness, health, food, retreats but of course, working in cultural tourism, cultural sites are just as well on my to-do list. I am sure Bali has so much more to offer in terms of cultural and touristic experience, but since my schedule was very busy with my detox, body-mind cleanse, I still had a chance to see and experience Bali in its pure sense.
Goa Gajah’s name is slightly misleading, lending the impression that it’s a gigantic dwelling full of elephants. Nevertheless, Goa Gajah ‘Elephant Cave’ is an 11 century archaeological site built for meditation. It is of significant historical value and it is located on the edge of Bedulu Village, six kilometres out of central Ubud. Its breathtaking relic-filled courtyard, view of the rock-wall carvings, a central meditational cave, bathing pools and fountains is amazing.
The main grounds are down a flight of steps from the roadside and parking area, which is lined with various art and souvenir shops and refreshment kiosks. Upon reaching the base you will come across a large ‘wantilan’ meeting hall and an assortment of large old stone carvings, some restored to their former full glory. The pool, excavated in 1954, features five out of supposedly seven statues depicting Hindu angels holding vases that act as waterspouts.
Various structures reveal Hindu influences dating back to the 10th century, and some relics feature elements of Buddhism dating even earlier to the 8th century. The cave is shallow; inside are three stone idols each wrapped in red, yellow and black cloths. Black soot lines the cave’s walls as result from the current-day incense burning. Several indentations show where meditating priests once sat. The northern side of the complex is dominantly Buddhist while south across the river it’s mostly Shivaite.
At the southern end are beautiful rice fields and small streams that lead to the Petanu River – another natural site entwined in local legends. Goa Gajah was built on a hillside and as two small streams met here forming a campuhan or ‘river junction’, the site was considered sacred and was built for hermetic meditation and prayers.
Kopi luwak or civet coffee, refers to the coffee that includes part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet.
Producers of the coffee beans argue that the process may improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection and digestion. Selection occurs if the civets choose to eat cherries. Digestive mechanisms may improve the flavor profile of the coffee beans that have been eaten. The civet eats the cherries for the fleshy pulp, then in the digestive tract, fermentation occurs. The civet's protease enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids. Passing through a civet's intestines the cherries are then defecated with other fecal matter and collected.
The traditional method of collecting feces from wild civets has given way to intensive farming methods in which civets in battery cage systems are force fed the cherries. This method of production has raised ethical concerns about the treatment of civets due to "horrific conditions" including isolation, poor diet, small cages and a high mortality rate.
Although kopi luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, it has been called one of the most expensive coffees in the world with retail prices reaching €550 / US$700 per kilogram.
Nyepi is a Balinese "Day of Silence" that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar (in 2015, it fell on March 21). It is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia, is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New Year's Day. On this day, the youth of Bali practice the ceremony of Omed-omedan or 'The Kissing Ritual' to celebrate the new year. The same day celebrated in India as ugadi.
Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection, and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and, for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali's usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.
Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents and tourists are not exempt from the restrictions. Although they are free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles responding to life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth.
On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.