Almost each and every person I know that's visited Bali hasn't hesitated to describe how "spiritual" it is. When I booked my recent three-week trip [or should I say pilgrimage?] to the Eat Pray Love island, I was excited to see what they all meant.
We spent a week playing at Nusa Lembongan Island, off the coast of Bali, where we went diving with manta rays, swimming in infinity pools and adventuring to Kling-Kling secret point. We also spent time getting lost in Kuta's busy beach and shopping district and finally we rang in the New Year in soulful Ubud with a couple of yoga and meditation classes in tow.
It was serene and utterly beautiful, but it was when I cried uncontrollably in bed one morning that I connected to my spirit.
When you are unhappy, people will say: "Pray, and you will become happy. Meditate, and you will become happy. Go to church, and be a Christian or Hindu or Buddhist, and you will become happy." If not for you, then that was always the case with me. So much so that I began to master prayer and meditation and all that woo-woo stuff.
These days I beg to differ. It was in that moment of utmost vulnerability that I realised I was not going to find my bliss in the front row of a meditation class, in the corner of a vegan café, in an ancient temple or on top of a lush rice paddy. I was going to find it right in the centre of my soul. [A sentient decision of sorts; when I poured it all out into a journal and allowed acceptance for the old and space for the new, it was then that I could heal.]
Choose happiness first
It is Osho that said:
Be happy, and meditation will follow. Be happy, and religion will follow.
Yes, Bali is a "spiritual" place. Perhaps it's because the Balinese publicly practice their belief system compared to westerners. But it's no different to what you'll find in Myanmar, the Philippines or Cambodia. What I mean to say, is that spirituality, healing and happiness shouldn't depend on anything. Not your religion, church or temple, yoga classes or prayer circle. It might enhance your experience but ultimately it's what you make of it. If you're going to believe it's in a Kundalini class at Yoga Barn, then there you'll find it. If you're going to believe it's in nature, then there you'll find it.
I've remembered that if I first choose happiness and healing [the hard part], the prayer and meditation will follow [the easy part] because where you find a happy person you find a meditative mind. After a difficult couple of months I needed Bali to be a healing sanctuary of sorts but what I remembered was that I am my healing sanctuary and I will tap into it nearest to where I believe it to be.
I'm thankful for my time in illuminating Indonesia and feel so empowered remembering that my life is up to me. Another reminder that I - and you -and we - are the sum of our decisions.
P.S. If there's one place I would recommend on your visit to Bali, it would be Nusa Lembongan! Go!