Some time ago I decided to go on a 30-day soul retreat in Bali, to find myself and to also work on my book.
My mind, body, heart, and soul were feeling out of sync for quite some time and I knew that by going away and spending some time alone I will eventually feel a lot better.
The idea of traveling alone for 30 days made me feel excited and scared at the same time.
The Dark Side of My Balinese Soul Searching Experience
I remember having all these contradictory thoughts:
What if I get lost?
What if I get bored?
What in the world will I be doing there for 30 days?
Isn’t it dangerous for me to travel alone?
What if something bad will happen to me?
There is all kind of stories about people who got robbed, kidnaped and killed while traveling…
I really don’t think this is a good idea.
What was I thinking?
But what if nothing bad will happen to me, on the contrary?
I should stop putting these negative thoughts in my mind… What is wrong with me?
I can do this. I will do this!
I’m sure it will do me good to be away for a while.
I wanted this, I asked for it and now I should be happy that it’s happening.
The mind will make a lot of noise, creating discomfort in our bodies but once we go ahead with our plans and intentions, once we embrace change, the mind will be silenced.
I guess I was scared to get out of my comfort zone, to step into the unknown and do something new. At a deeper level I was afraid that by spending all that time alone, I will have to face many of my hidden fears and shadows…
You see, from time to time I like to pretend that I don’t know who I really am and I allow my ego to rule over me and my life.
I ignore my inner voice, my heart and intuition and I do whatever my rational mind asks me to do. In conclusion, I become rigid and stiff.
Not that there is something wrong with using my mind, but when I silence and ignore my intuition, doing only what my mind is asking me to do, I usually end up feeling stressed and anxious… My mind kept going on and on about all the horrible things that were about to happen while in Bali and it continued to bully me all the way to Bali.
The moment I got off the plane, on my way out of the airport, it stopped and I felt calm and at peace after a very long time. I couldn’t believe that my heart was being filled with appreciation, with love and gratitude once again.
Things got even better once Ketut, my host, and guide, picked me up from the airport. I don’t know if you ever experienced this, but there are people whose energy is so beautiful and so powerful, that you get happy just by being in their presence, and Ketut was one of those people.
He had this big, radiant smile and right from the beginning made me feel like we were part of the same family. In those moments it felt like the real me, my Higher Self was coming back to life, and my ego, who was ruling my life for quite some time, was slowly falling asleep.
I felt free and alive once again and no longer bullied and harassed by my mind I was content and happy once again.
While driving to Ubud ( a town on the Indonesian island of Bali, one of Bali’s major arts and culture centers) looking outside the car’s window, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be traveling to those beautiful places.
I was 100% present in the now and as a result, I started feeling better and better. I remember feeling so proud of myself for moving past my fears and doing the things my heart was asking me to do.
Once we got to what was about to become my beautiful home for one week, Ketut invited me to go with him to the temple ceremony. I was so excited to be in Bali once again (I was there last year in September) and to actually spend time with Balinese people. To be not just a tourist but to live amongst Balinese people 🙂
I was so excited about everything, so happy and so curious to discover more about the Balinese people and culture, about Ubud and also about myself. They gave me a Balinese regalia to wear to the temple ceremony and off we went.
There were so many people on the streets, all wearing beautiful traditional clothes and I was one of them. Together we all walked to the temple. I couldn’t believe how easy and natural it felt for them to interact and share the love with one another.
Everyone looked so happy, so loving and content and what I really loved was the fact that once we got to the temple, the children were joyfully running all around, playing and laughing, and nobody told them to sit down and be quiet…
You might think that maybe people were so loving and happy just because they were at the temple but I found people to be as happy and as loving outside the temples as well.
One night, while walking on the streets of Ubud, looking for a taxi to go home, I saw this man asking people if they needed a taxi. I went to him and before I could say anything, with a very humble voice and a smile on his face, he asked:
“Do you a need a taxi? Are you going to give me work?”
to which I replied:
I actually do need a taxi and it will be my pleasure to give you work 🙂
I was so happy to be there and to be able to use and pay money for his services. In fact, I never felt more excited in my entire life about paying for a cab fare… I know, it might sound weird but that’s exactly how I felt.
Just like Rumi said it, “If words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart.”
It’s all about attitude and because of his beautiful attitude of gratitude, I went home with a big smile not just on my face but also in my heart. That man perceived his work not as a burden but as a way of supporting himself and his family.
I met so many pure and beautiful people while I was there and even though I was surrounded by so much love and beauty, after 3 days of feeling blissful and euphoric, I went back to feeling the way I did before coming to Bali – restless, anxious and unhappy.
I really thought that by simply going to a beautiful place like Bali, my inner conflicts will dissolve without me having to face and solve them, but I was wrong…
I remember thinking to myself:
Omg! What in the world is wrong with me?
I wanted to take off from work and came here to relax and be at peace not to stress and worry about some imaginary problems.
Why am I not happy? I should be happy!
I came here to write on my book but I can’t because I am not in a good place and it will affect the quality of my writing.
What if I will feel this way the whole time?
What a waste of time and money!
I am tired of all my nonsense, the whining and complaining.
Why can’t I just be here, present, grateful and happy?!?!
Of course, those judgmental thoughts and harsh internal dialogues didn’t help. They never do and as a result, I continued to feel worse and worse as days went by. I continued to judge myself for my judgmental thoughts (ironic, right?) and I continued to resist everything I was thinking and feeling.
I was surrounded by beauty, by loving, compassionate and caring people and it made me so sad that I couldn’t really enjoy it and appreciate as much as I did in the first 3 days.
You see, the quality of our lives has little or nothing to do with our external circumstances but a lot to do with what we are thinking and how we are feeling inside.
I thought that by going to a beautiful place like Bali, I will immediately be healed and my mind will go from crazy to feeling centered and peaceful but that’s not how things work, that’s not how life works.
I really love how Debbie Ford talks about this:
“By choosing not to allow parts of ourselves to exist, we are forced to expend huge amounts of psychic energy to keep them beneath the surface.”
We can run from who we are deep down inside but we surely can’t hide. By being there alone with myself, I was “forced” to deal with some of my hidden wounds and shadows and even though I kept playing the role of an ignorant person, pretending not know what was the root cause of my pain and unhappiness, I eventually gave up and did the right thing.
Until next time, here are some photos I took in the first 8 days. Enjoy 🙂