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.

Travel: The Great Escape

It hit me as I descended into Bali. For anyone who has embarked on an adventure with no end date, you know the feeling I’m talking about. A combination of relief, excitement, lightness and complete freedom. Holy cow, I’m actually doing this. I guess to most people ditching the 9-5 to go and live on a tropical island is a hopeful and somewhat fleeting thought, especially as we get older. But since my first independent travels around the world over 10 years ago, I knew it was inevitable. 

4 weeks ago, I was offered a yoga teaching/digital marketing position on the beautiful island of Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand. 5 hours a day, 5 days a week doing something that I live and breathe. Who would say no to that? To me it seemed like a no brainer, and it was only when a dear friend said “you are really brave” did it dawn on me that what I was doing was outside of the ‘norm’. My mother cemented this with a concerned “Are you really going to drop everything and have to start all over again when you get back?”. In my mind I answered “HELL YES! Wait, she thinks I’m coming back?” But as much as much as we like to think our society promotes freedom – it doesn’t.

So we use our 20 days annual leave and think we’re being clever when we add in a couple of cheeky ‘sick days’ to travel and trick ourselves into thinking that we’re free. We travel to disrupt our routine, to find ourselves again and some people even travel to ‘one-up’ others. But no matter what your reasons are for travelling, one thing holds true – we look forward to our next holiday and as soon as it arrives we dread its ending. The travel in itself seems to take place in its own island of time, outside the scope of our ‘real’ lives. 

Now I’m not saying that what I’m doing is ‘right’ and working 9-5 is ‘wrong’. Just like I’m not saying there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ reason to travel. If I’ve learnt anything these past couple of years its that life is fluid – its not rigid. Some of us swim with the stream, some of us swim against the tide thinking that we’re moving when really we’re just fighting the flow of life. All I am hoping to do with this post is to touch a few people’s lives and perhaps even inspire a few to question the social construct that we all feel bounded by.

So as I sit here in Ubud, Bali looking out from the top level of my villa down to the tropical greenery and infinity pool, after been woken up by gang of roosters rather than a garbage truck -all I can say is that it is totally worth it. Life can be a dream. 

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Bathing in the Bliss of Bali

I made it! After almost a month of travelling I finally made it to finish line in blissful Bali. I must say before I set out on this trip Bali was never on my radar. Even as a Yogi. The thought of hoards of tourists trawling the streets and beaches didn’t spark great interest. But after visiting Bali for only 3 days, I can definitely see why it has such a wide appeal. And to be honest, I’m hooked. Under it’s undoubtedly beautiful exterior of beautiful beaches and lush greenery, lied a place that truly touched me. The people are the most friendly I have ever come across and I felt the spirituality floating in the air.

By this stage of my trip I needed some serious one-on-one time with the beach. The hectic streets of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh, the constant rain and plane rides had taken its toll and it was time for rest. So that’s what I did. 3 full days of nothing but lying on a beach chair, eating, drinking and swimming. And it was exactly what I needed. That was my Yoga. There was a little voice in my head telling me I SHOULD go and see more of Bali and I SHOULD be more social, but I’m so glad I chose to tune in to what I needed rather than what I thought I should do.

So my challenge for you is to catch yourself the next time you say the word ‘should’ and see if you can discern if the ‘should’ is something that will serve you in that moment or if it is an expectation you have placed upon yourself. And over time this discernment and honesty with yourself may take a little load of your shoulders and help you lead a more truthful and fulfilling life.

Bali will be there for next time. And from what I saw, there will definitely be a next time. Thank you all for following my travels throughout South East Asia and for ZenFlow for making it all happen. If you have any queries about my adventures or Nourish Yoga classes, please contact me by emailing hello@nourish.yoga. See you all back home in Melbourne!