Sitting in silence – Nyepi New Year

I love Bali. There I said it. Just one year ago I had no interest in setting foot on the island, but now I’m a complete convert. There are just so many different sides of this Hindu paradise. You can party like a rockstar in Kuta, live the high life in Uluwatu, heal yourself in Ubud, dive in Amed and the list could go on and on. But what has always fascinated me is the Balinese people and culture. They are remarkably sweet, kind natured and gentle in their interaction. You rarely see someone without a smile on their face. So being able to celebrate Nyepi (Balinese new year) with locals was an experience beyond special.

Unlike us westerners (yes I realise I’m Asian but I like to think of myself as a banana, white on the inside yellow on the outside) the Balinese celebrate their new year in a remarkably different fashion. Though there are many festivities to the lead up to their new year, the day itself is spent in complete silence. And they take their silence seriously. No electricity, no food, no communication and there are police on the street politely asking people to return back to their homes. The large majority of tourists head to neighbouring islands but not this one. I couldn’t wait for the silence.

Silence can be confronting, uncomfortable or downright boring. But it can also be peaceful, grounding and spacious. In the western society that we live in today, where our days are consumed with non-stop ‘noise’, silence is necessary for our own sanity. That’s why we practice our yoga and meditation. To find some space to quieten our mind. But Nyepi takes things to a whole new level. You may hear the occasional dog bark or chicken crow but apart from that there is literally no noise.

I must admit, it wasn’t all peace, love and mung beans. Being with your own thoughts, especially the dark ones, can be somewhat terrifying. But you can’t have dark without light, happy without sad – such is the paradoxical nature of life! Every time things got a little hairy I repeated my mantra for the day “this too shall pass”. And you know what? It did! The day flew by, I learnt a lot about my thought patterns, I got to work on some issues I had been pushing to the side and I got to revisit the true contentment of being comfortable by yourself. For the first time in a long time I felt embodied, whole and settled.

Night dawned and the universe blessed me with a shooting star spectacle. My first ever. I had never felt so connected to the universe and all the things it encompasses. The vastness of sky and the billions of stars was breathtaking and humbling. Something new awoke within me. Needless to say I shed a tear (I’ll claim it as a cleansing practice) and fell asleep exhausted at the late hour of 8pm…

Now I know not all of you will rush to find the nearest cave to spend the whole day in complete silence, but when was the last time you spent time some quiet time with yourself? Not with the TV on, or taking yourself out for a nice meal and chatting with people on Facebook. Just you and you. The experience will be powerful. I can’t promise that it will be 100% pleasant, but I can promise it will be good for you.

I’ve got some exciting news too! This lucky duck scored a job at Aqua Wellness Resort in Nicaragua. I am the official in-house yoga teacher, so book your flights, pack your bags and come and visit me on the other side of the planet. But first I’m heading back home to Melbourne to get my dose of love from friends and family before the big trip.

To see what other shenanigans I’ve been up to, follow the Nourish Yoga blog.