Today I want to talk about a recent trip that helped me get back in touch with nature, build up my personal practice, and remember that I should put my efforts where I really need them!!!
I love to travel in silence. That’s why I enjoy so much traveling alone, without the permanent need of engaging in conversations, that most of the time are just a “time filler” (if you know what I mean). I was in deep need of unplugging from the busy city life, so I decided to fly to a place I haven’t been in ages; a place I had the greatest memories of!
So, I landed in the world where the sweet smell of armpits blends with the cardamom scent of tobacco, or is it cloves?…well, in any case… Indonesia! What a paradise of amazing people and wild nature, and I mention people first because people make a huge difference, especially when you are traveling alone. I think Indonesians are among the coolest people on earth, and to give you a little example, this is the first time ever that I don’t have to fight for a hotel voucher after missing a connecting flight; and bare in mind it was due to bad weather which makes it even more valuable.
Indonesia is a place that has very particular ways of doing things; you never understand 100% what’s going on, but at the end things get just done! It reminds me of the Twilight Zone! It was the perfect place to escape from the rush of my beloved Hong Kong.
When I arrived to my final destination…Bali, I felt completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the hotel I’ve chosen. Away from the crowds of tourists, I chose a location that was sort of secluded, but I never imagined it was going to be this much! Around 20 kilometers from Ubud, the car left the main road and took a very narrow winding road that lead us into an amazing valley full of rice paddies, and in the middle of those rice paddies we made another turn to paradise. The place was build on a steep hill of a canyon which bottom end was a musical river.
I was lead into my room that was better than perfect! I had a balcony that was bigger than my house (I’m always a bit exaggerated! haha) and all I could see from it was a forest full of palm trees (and I’m not exaggerating on this one). It was so wild, that in the same balcony, I saw a small gecko being eaten alive by ants! I gave it a thought to interfere, but decided to let nature rule!
Before my trip, I told someone I was going to Bali to recharge my batteries, and the first comment was: “Awesome, like in the movie, Eat, Pray and Love”. Such a cliché, don’t you think so? Well, in case you are thinking the same, sorry if I disappoint you, but I didn’t go there looking for Ketut, I just went there because places like that, where nature is still natural, make me feel at home!
It was beautiful to hear the rain there, as rain in the cities sounds totally different! It was also great to have perfect nights with blinding darkness; this might be a totally wrong expression in English, but this is exactly what I want to say; because in places like that, the nights are the way they are supposed to be!
Part of my plan was to join the daily yoga class but it was scheduled in the middle of the morning, so I ended up ensuring an early morning practice on my own every day in hope to be able to attend the class, but for some mysterious twist of destiny I could only join the class on the last day.
But you know what? I’m a firm believer that every single thing happens for a reason, and exactly when you need it!
Not being able to take the class before really helped me get closer to my personal practice that has been a real struggle lately, not only because of my recent foot surgery, but also because I’ve been feeling kind of… weak. I have to admit though, that over there, surrounded by all that nature, it was quite easy to wake up with the first rays of light and do real sun salutations, followed by a nice flow of Asanas, and believe it or not it even inspired me to do some light meditation!!!
But the most important thing, was arriving to that only class, where I was the only student and hear the teacher say: “I know you are a teacher, so I don’t want to teach you Asana, I want to teach you some meditation techniques that will make you stronger inside, because if you are strong inside, then your body is strong, if not, you can work very hard on your body and still feel weak”.
It was as if she knew what was going on in my mind, and she was totally right, I’ve been trying very hard with my body only, and I definitely needed to work from inside! It was as if she was there to confirm what I was slightly witnessing already, because with my daily practice I was driven by the tranquility of the place to do a more meditative practice and could feel the positive effects already!!! I could feel my energy levels rising!
And it is not that I didn’t know what this beautiful and humble Balinese teacher told me, but sometimes you have to go far to be reminded of the basics, of the things you forget or take for granted when you get lost in your day to day routine!
It has to start inside; like everything in your life you have to build that strength from the deepest layers of your being otherwise it will crumble. Like when you run and the hardest challenge is what is happening in your mind, if you are weak inside even one kilometer seems unachievable, but with a strong mind, you can do the impossible!!!
So she basically led me first through a lovely meditation on the chakras. And after half hour meditation (can you believe it? I was able to sit still in half lotus for half an hour!!!), she taught me a Kundalini yoga breathing exercise where while holding your breath, with an ascendant movement of your hands, you collect all the energy from the earth and bring it up the spine directing it into the sky, to then close the cycle back down at the base of the spine, all these with the purpose of building up your inner strength. And even if I don’t understand very well Kundalini yoga, and sometimes I feel a bit, lets say overwhelmed by all their paraphernalia…I have to admit it was a very interesting technique that so far seems to be working (I hope it is not only the placebo effect!)!
Now that I’m back home after such an energizing trip, my practice has improved so much! Just the contact with nature itself helped me a lot to catch up with the balance that I was missing, and I’ve been definitely feeling stronger and happier.
This is for me just another beginning, and as Lao Tse said…”A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”!!! And I still have a long way to go, and many journeys ahead! We all do…