The spirit of Bali & Lonley Islands -
and what I learned about myself and life in the last month
During my stay in Bali & Lombok I realized again, why I love it so much to visit other countries in the world and learn about different cultures. In the last month I experienced and realized so much and I want to share my new knowledge with you.
Some experiences were just incomparable and unforgettable, others have influenced my life and my attitude to life. I just want to mention some of my most formative moments in Bali and the Gili Islands:
1) Poor people are more likely to give than people, who have everything or too much: At the beginning of my journey, temperatures over 30 degrees and this 24 hours a day were some kind of a challenge for me. So on my first day in Bali I was searching for water and I found a small shop in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to pay for the water, but the little man in the shop didn`t have any change and I just had big banknotes. No problem for the man, he just gave me the bottle for free. What else can I say than "karma". Karma means – how your actions determine your life – and it is a big issue in the Indonesian culture. More happenings like this in the last months, have convinced me to be more mindful about my karma and this makes me feel better.
Another brief encounter also had an big impact on me. I was just lying on the beach, enjoying my "life of luxury", and I didn`t have anything better to do, than thinking about what I could eat for dinner tonight and if I deserve a beer or a glass of wine. Completely lost in my thoughts I didn`t even notice the young local man, sitting next to me and smiling. He was dressed like we are in winter (what is normal for the Indonesian people) and he had a small bag with him. He was just smiling and said some words in English, like "swimming", "washing", …, undressed himself and went into the ocean just with his underwear. While I was watching him, I realized that this young man doesn`t have anything except the clothes he was wearing and the small bag. But he was swimming and smiling, screaming "fish, fish", he was like a little boy having fun. He was so loveable, that I just wanted to hug him. He smiled and I was close to tears, because knowing, that this poor young man doens`t have a lot in life, was too much for me and my heart. So I talked to him a bit. His name was Ari and I am so happy about our short meeting in our two completely different lives. He showed me how lucky I am, how grateful I have to be every day and how stupid it is, lying at the beach and just thinking about dinner. Thank you Ari for this emotional and unforgettable experience.
opening hours in Bali :-) Balinese farmwoman
2) The special spirit of Bali: Although I am not really a spiritual person, I could feel something special in Bali. From the first day on this island I felt different, like I am watching myself from outside my body. But because I immersed myself in a different world within 24 hours, it didn`t bother me. My meditation teacher Jono always mentioned, that Bali is a very mystical place and that especially sensitive people are influenced by its spirit. So I started the meditation training with him and I didn`t expect a lot, because I already found access to meditation a long time ago. But then my first meditation overwhelmed me. I was completely relaxed and suddenly my eyes were filled with tears. I was crying the whole meditation. Even afterward I couldn`t stop. It took me a long time to get myself under control again. Although I was afraid about what just happened, I felt at ease, like I just lost something heavy in my life. I still don`t know what it was, but I know, that I had to let go something. I am grateful for that experience. Thank you Bali!
3) What you learn about yourself and your life, if you spend some days alone on an lonely island: A life without cars, scooters and unrestrained dogs? Oh yes, you can find this in Lombok on the Gili Islands. Three small, calm and beautiful Islands, where human and nature live in harmony. As means of transport you have horse carriages, called "Cidomos", or bicycles. So for me it was the perfect place to settle down for a while.
The first ten days I spent my time on Gili Trawangan, the most animate of those three islands, with some nice small bars and great Reaggy music. I had an unforgettable time with my friends there. We were dancing till dawn to "Bob Marley" or "Tonight we are young" and I really felt like being 20 again. I spent a night in my swimming pool under the starry sky and palm trees. For the first time in my life I smoked a Shisha, an oriental tradition and a meaningful part in the Arabic culture. But like it is in life, good times pass quickly, and we all had to journey on or back home. I had some days left, so I decided to spend 3 nights alone on one of the calmer and smaller islands, on Gili Air. Did you ever spend three days alone on an lonely island? I accepted the challenge and all I can say is, that it was really hard. On my first day I thought, oh my god, what am I doing here? On my second day my phone was my best friend. Whom could I write a message? What`s new on WhatsApp or on Facebook? I spent the whole morning just looking up, what all my friends are doing. And that made me think. I realized, how much we depend on our friends, on communicative devices and on being entertained by others. But I didn`t want to give up, so I decided to stay all three days. I wanted to succeed ;-). And then on my second evening, something unforgettable happened. A bad thunderstorm cut us of from civilization. There was no more power, no Internet, nothing – except my fear how I will survive. And this was the first time I was able to calm down and just being in the present moment. I was present in my own life and not watching other people on Facebook or WhatsApp. I could feel a deep inwardly calmness, despite the heavy rain and the darkness. I saw a young Indonesian girl dancing in the rain, I watched all the local people, who were smiling and asked me, if I am o.k. and if I want something to eat or drink. I felt great and suddenly I realized something important for my life. We are all human beings who love distractions. We need music, fun with our friends, communicative devices, etc. The problem is that we lost balance. We are so dependent on all of this, that we feel lonely and lost without it. And then I saw a saying, which seems to be a solution.
"It`s all about finding the calm in the caos" - DONNA KARAN.
We have to find inner calm and satisfaction, to be happy in both worlds, in the chaos and in the loneliness. I am sure this will help me a lot in the future!
4) The power of now: Not just the thunderstorm on Gili Air, many other experiences on my journey showed me, how difficult it is to live in the now. I read the book "The Power of Now" and I understood everything he writes, I also wrote about living in the "here and now", but not until I stayed in Bali and spent some time with Indonesian people, I realized what`s the most important part. The challenge is to be present (not just physically) and alert, to focus on what you just do. Because we all know, what ever we do, in our mind we are already somewhere else. It doesn`t matter if we are working, driving our cars, doing some exercise, … , mentally we are mostly somewhere in the future – what could I cook tonight, what groceries do I have to buy, whom do I have to call or write an email later, … . But the most important thing in life is: consciousness - alertness - mindfulness - awareness – presence!
First SUNRISE 2016 ... fabulous
5) The true meaning of Yoga: Becoming a Yoga teacher was one of my best decisions in the last year. Especially to learn and practice Yoga in Bali, where they teach you the old traditional way, was very important for me. I learned more than different positions and breathing techniques. I underwent modifications and I experienced the true meaning of Yoga and how it can have an positive influence on other parts in our life. Yoga is a lifestyle, not an exercise class! And everyone who is doing Yoga just for fitness and for the figure, is not in the right place!
→ "Less is more" - is one important motto. We should adapt that motto to many other areas in our life, like eating, shopping, makeup :-), etc.
→ "Slow down and smell roses". This implies that you should be thoughtful and pay attention to what you do and think. Good thoughts lead to good action, so be positive, optimistic and grateful. Your thoughts influence your feelings!
→ Back to simplicity! Why do we make our life so complicated, instead of just concentrate on the simple and primary meaning of life.
→ There is no being good or bad in Yoga. Everyone can do Yoga. It`s all about oneself and about a healthy body and mind. The practice of Yoga is an art and science dedicated to creating union between body, mind and spirit.
→ We don`t compare each other in Yoga. No one says, I am better or worse than you. So for me, this is a very important part not just for Yoga, also for life. Why do we always compare ourselves with others and put pressure on us? No matter what we do, or how we look, or what clothes we wear, there are always measured values. For example, when I tell people that I love running, the first thing I am asked is, how far are you running or how quick. The answer "I run as long as I have fun", is not really satisfying for most of them. But this is the way I am doing things. I am happy that Bali is supporting me. Yoga is a great start to stop with comparison and envy.
6) Everything is impermanent: This is something I always knew. But in Bali I realized that it is a big challenge in my life and that I really have to work on it. I had a lot of time to reflect the past and noticed, that when ever my life was just the way I imagined my future, I thought I reached the goal and everything will remain unchanged. Of course it didn`t and I had a hard time to manage the new situation. Also in the last month in Indonesia there where times, when I thought, oh my god, life is to good to be true, and I enjoyed every second. But then I had to travel on, or good friends had to leave, and I had to say goodbye to loving people. This was always so difficult for me and I was sad for a long time. Instead of being grateful that I had the opportunity to meet them and having a great time with them, I was unhappy. Now I know I need to work on my mindset and stop to get too attached to everything. I need to accept the fact, that everything and everyone is constantly changing. Nothing stays the same, not the good and not the bad things (this is the good site) in life. Great people come and go. And just when I have an inner contentment, I can deal with it and stay happy. Happiness consists in contentment.
"Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside."
Sri Ramana Maharshi
7) Eventually I have a funny story to tell. Has your cell phone every be stolen? But I am quite sure never by a monkey. This is no joke. "My phone has been stolen by a monkey". In one second a naughty monkey in the temple in Uluwatu clutched at my phone and ran away. Fortunately the long chase was successful and I got it, damaged but still workable, back. Unforgettable and an entertaining story for every family celebration or christmas party :-).
Thank you Bali & Lombok for everything I learned and experienced the last months. Thanks to all loving people I got to know, for all new warm friendships and for all the wonderful moments, I could share with my friends or savour on my own!
Text & pictures: Daniela Walser