I spent almost 3 weeks in Ubud – crazy to think that in America, this would’ve been an entire holiday for the year. In which case, I probably would’ve maximized the time much more with visits to temples, swimming in waterfalls, climbing up local volcanoes, and other tours that are offered by locals on the street with their laminated, faded posters. But actually, I have done none of that. Not even a little bit. Not because I don’t have the money or time, but because I’m here for something else.
Ubud is the spiritual mecca of the incredibly spiritual island of Bali. It’s also where the film Eat, Pray, Love is based (it’s the “love” segment). But that’s not why I’m here either. At least not in the relationship sense, but a self love sense. I love myself a lot already, in a beautiful and real way. But – there’s a shit ton of healing that I (and really, everyone) needs – most of which, we aren’t even aware of. I cannot imagine a better place to do that than in Ubud. And so, today and every day here is for healing, and this is what it’s made of:
I wake up at 6 a.m. and rise with the sun. Crazy since usually I’m grumpy AF in the morning. But when it’s not work that I have to get up and go to, somehow, it feels easier. Exciting almost. I sit quietly and meditate in my hotel room, which is a small 4-plex right next to the largest and most famous yoga studio in the city, the Yoga Barn. I watch quietly as sky turns from black to pink to beige to light blue, clouds above drifting by so close I can almost touch them. The dense banana leaves outside my deck sway in the early breeze, the roosters crow, the smell of incense burning from morning offerings, and sounds of motorbikes whizzing people to work gently swirl around me. I make some herbal tea, then I’m off to yoga, walking the short 10 meters to the entrance of the yoga barn oasis. It’s a beautiful, jungly patch of heaven… you wouldn’t even know you’re in the city. I walk past the security guys who all smile genuinely and say good morning. I stroll up the wooden walkway, past a rice field and bungalows, and up to one of the five studios for class.
After an hour and a half of waking my body up with a yoga flow, I sit quietly in the tropical garden and set my daily intention with repeated verbal mantras, using my mala beads given to me by my yoga teacher. Then I head back to the hotel and say hello to the local house man, Wayan, who asks “where you go? you busy?” (I asked him this once, and he has repeated it to me every time I see him. I think he’s practicing his English…). He brings me fresh fruit and tea and an amazing omelette. Vegetarian of course. I sit on my patio and journal or read – the two books on hand now are called “Prakriti – Your Ayurvedic Constitution” and “Freedom – the Courage to Be Yourself” by Osho. I spend the next few hours writing, reading, and doing research on more spiritual healing.
As if I haven’t treated myself enough up until this point, generally in the afternoon I go to a workshop or consultation (Ayurveda, astrology, spiritual guidance, energy balancing, etc.). I’m learning things like hey, I need a regimented schedule and set plans to feel in tune with myself. Hm. Sounds right (because I’m a vata – find out what your dosha is here). I’m also learning how to navigate emotionally and spiritually through past issues, most that I didn’t realize were even there (we all have them p.s.). Funny how when you allow your heart to open up and you dig deep, life shows you what you need to see. Just when you think you know, you see that you don’t know sh*t! Beautiful, really. This practice is followed by a cat nap.
The evening is prime time for a massage, and luckily, they are in abundance here. You can’t go down the road without passing at least a handful of shops, all with excellent prices ($8 for an hour massage, on average). I recently did a therapy where they drip about 5L of warm coconut oil on your forehead to open your third eye – powerful stuff! So then I’ll walk to dinner either with a friend from my yoga program, someone I’ve met here, or solo to meet new people (or I’ll sit and journal or draw mandalas). The destination is usually one of the many organic/raw/gluten free/vegan/vegetarian restaurants. Does the sound of that freak you out? They’re actually excellent! And some offer chicken and fish as well. I always end up spending more than I anticipate, because dessert is never skipped (back home, I never eat dessert… balance). The portion sizes are smaller here, allowing for extra treats. Most restaurants have an amazing plethora of juices as well, so porque no? Despite beers being the cheapest beverage on the menu, I’ve cut it out from my habits – only for certain occasions. Not drinking helps me wake up at 6 am and stay clear headed for all the healing that is going down in yoga town.
Then I hobble, stuffed, back to my room after a final stroll through the peaceful jungle of the Yoga Barn. Despite my private room having a TV, I haven’t turned it on once. Back to writing, reading, mandala making, or self massage and tea.
Reflecting on this memoir from above, I can’t help but notice how much I’ve evolved in the past few years, and particularly, from my last trip to Asia. What’s different? For one, I have the money to do whatever I really want, which currently is finding healing – like a private room versus a rowdy dorm, healthy meals versus cheap street food (although I do love this sometimes too). Also, traveling seems different now… everyone’s connected via WhatsApp. For me, its taken some of the excitement out, or maybe I’m just getting older. But all good – I’m not interested in the backpacker lifestyle right now anyway. Because most people in Ubud are here for some form of healing, so the fun is found in unique other ways – like ecstatic dance, eye gazing (yaas), cacao ceremonies, meditations, and genuine human connection.