“And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?”
I will always recall these lines from Mary Oliver’s “The Swan” when I think about my time in Bali. This journey towards a more open heart that started in May, when I met Jennifer Pastiloff, was introduced to her stunning writing and booked this trip. That continued through the summer as I deepened my yoga practice. That expanded into the Manifestation Retreat in Ojai, where I began to build my tribe of support. That culminated in Bali, where I discovered magic.
I tried to withhold expectations about Bali before I left for Ubud. I did very little research about this special island so that everything could wash freshly over me once I arrived (ok, and out of laziness too if I’m being honest. I don’t enjoy reading travel guidebooks). But I did have a few ideas about what might occur during this weeklong retreat, like riding elephants, finally kicking up into a handstand, or coming back tan and skinny.
Here’s what did not happen in Bali this week:
- I did not see any elephants
- I did not get a tan
- I did not lose weight
- I did not get into a proper headstand
- I did not fall in love a la “Eat Pray Love” (though I did do quite a bit of eating and praying)
I could be a little disappointed if I just looked at that list. I did want to see the elephants, and I REALLY wanted to jump up into handstand (rather than jump down to it). But what I did get out of this journey far surpassed any expectations, beyond what I could have ever imagined.
Here’s what did happen in Bali this week:
- I found BEAUTY
- I found joy
- I found forgiveness
- I found comfort
- I found laughter
- I found support
- I found kindness
- I found courage
- I found grace
- I found inspiration
- I found sisterhood
- I found awe
- I found peace
- I found wonder
- I found myself
- I FOUND MAGIC
For what, other than magic, could explain the omnipresent smiles of the Balinese people?
The loveliness of 11 year old twins dancing to welcome us into their home, and their beautiful country?
The spiritual devotion that causes these wonderful people to make thrice daily offerings to their Gods and spirits?
What, if not magic, could create such a stunning sunrise amongst the lush greenery and rice paddies?
I brought along a bunch of temporary tattoos (thanks Conscious Ink!), which echoed so many of the mantras that we focused on in our practice. “Forgive”. “Courage”. “Trust”. Through all of the sweat and swimming, I was able to change them everyday, except for the one that fittingly has lasted–“Gratitude”. I am looking down at my wrist, sitting here in Bangkok on my way back to California, and I am grateful. For ALL that I found in Bali.
Thank you Jen Pastiloff, thank you The Travel Yogi, thank you Soulshine, thank you Bali, thank you my new family. I will return home with a heart filled with love, a mind calmed, and a soul at peace.