Ancient Wisdom for Modern Wellness

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My journey to Bali…

Posted on December 12, 2012

There is something magical about travel.  It opens doors and gives a glimpse of things that are otherwise unseen for a lifetime.  The people we meet along the way are our muses in one way or another and our story the canvas on which we draw for others the experience we had.  Every once in a while we have an experience that changes our lives forever.  Sometimes it is because of the circumstances, sometimes the people themselves, sometimes just because we become someone we didn’t know ourselves to be in the first place.

Over the next few days/week(s?), I will share bits and pieces of my last few weeks and what I learned about myself, the Balinese, Monkeys and humanity.

My trip started as just that – a trip to an exotic part of the world to meet up with unknown people and unknown circumstances.  The place itself drew me in like a bug to a bright light.  There is just something about Bali that made me want to be there.  Every picture and story I had ever heard felt like home to me.  It called to me with every step I took.  God, the Universe, the Great Unseen or whatever it is you believe in must have conspired to have it happen for me because it wasn’t like I could afford to take 2 weeks away from work to go play even with a good reason.  The generosity of those in my community and the willingness of some of my patients to trust that I would be around for another year made this possible.  Thank you to those that supported me emotionally, financially and with understanding of my absence.

I could jump straight into the pictures and I promise I will be posting them along the way, but instead I will start with a story.

I used to think that to get anywhere in life you had to show up to work everyday for years and years to put away and save every little penny that wasn’t consumed by life’s necessities.  And that at the end of the 45 plus years that you would be taken care of by someone else… at least that is the picture my Grandfather painted for me.  I was incredibly fortunate to have a father that painted a different picture.  He nearly worked himself to death by the age of 35 to retire early and spend the remainder of his years investing in micro-businesses of his own, buying and selling, rebuilding and restructuring the work of others and following his intuition or whims some may have thought.  Some of which turned a big profit, some a little, some cost time and money but were fun, and others were just a drain of resources for a period of time.  All in all he considered himself lucky and often said “It takes money to make money.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”

One of the biggest drains I see on my community and my patients these days is the stress associated with either of these attitudes or pictures of what life has to look like in order to be successful.  I swore I would never live with either of those models and for many years I struggled financially just to get by.  I mean, when it is ingrained in your psyche that you can not make money if you don’t have it to start with – it makes it hard to do much of anything other than just get by day to day.

This particular journey started, just by saying yes to myself of finding out about going.  Putting my name on the application and following through with the process of going, not knowing whether or not I would be able to pay my bills while I was gone or when I came back for that matter.  Much less being able to afford all that I needed to go, airfare, food, etc. But I did it anyway… put my name on the line – saying yes to me.  Saying yes, to much needed time off.  Saying yes to life outside of the everyday grind in my little box called life.

Bali is filled with temples.  There is a temple in every rice field, little ones on the rice plateau, bigger ones near  homes and retail areas, even bigger ones within the city and bigger bigger ones up to huge!  All with one thing in common – steps, layers, and a much that you cannot see.

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A Balinese woman carries a bag rice or seed on her head as she approaches the miniature temple in the fields where she works.  Often they have small offerings of flowers, fruit and a little money in a little woven tray that they leave at these places with a stick of burning incense.  I didn’t have anyone to ask specifically, but in the native cultures of other parts of the world, the smoke carries the message to the heavens – whether it be a prayer, gratitude or just a letting go of things that no longer serve us.

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This small offering area was in the hotel gardens where I stayed.  The little ladies that opened the restaurant for breakfast could be spotted placing their offerings early in the morning.  They would smile sweetly and say – “Good for business.”

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This one falls in the category of HUGE – lots of steps and greenery and ornate carvings.  Stunning really.

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So, I invite you to inquire with in the greatest temple of all – The temple with in…  What is it that has you do what you do for work?  Why do you do it?  What is the picture that was painted for you and do you live by it? And if so, do you really want to continue to do it the way it has always been done?  Does it fill you or drain you?  What would fulfilled life and success in the category of occupation look like to you?

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I overheard a Balinese man answering questions at one point.  Someone had asked the significance of something or another in the temple area.  He chuckled in a Buddha like way and said “Here we don’t so much ask why.  Sometimes, it is just decoration.”

And sometimes we do what we do, just because we do it.  And there is nothing wrong or right about it, but it never hurts to ask.