Meditative, Spiritual Bali
Ah, beautiful, lush, green Bali…
Today I meditated for the first time, then spent my day with a traditional healer.
Tammy and I met up last night. We planned on meeting for dinner. Our plans almost didn’t come through, but in this tiny town of Ubud, we managed to find each other. It was just the two if us, and it was nice.
She spent some time at a place called “Traditional Balinese Healing” and as soon as I saw the name of the place on her bag, I knew that it was the shop of the medicine woman Wayan, from the book Eat Pray Love. It was late, but Tammy had just gotten out of there, so she said to me, “let’s go see if she’s still there!” Tammy took me to a secluded little side street where Wayan was getting ready to close up her shop. As soon as I saw her, I recognized her. There are photos of her online, which I had found after I had read the book last year.
Wayan agreed to see me at 11:00 the next morning. She said she needed time to prepare all her healing concoctions for me.
After that, Tammy and I sat and chatted with my friend Oka for a bit, from the Cinta restaurant.
From there, we went next door to the meditation facility to see if we could arrange private teachers.
At 7:30 this morning, I got a call from the meditation center, who had contacted a teacher, to tell me that he’d be stopping by my guest house for a private lesson at 9:30. I could only schedule an hour, due to my other committment.
Made (Mah-Day) knocked on my door precisely at 9:30. He told me we would need a calm space for him to teach me to meditate. We went to the back of my guesthouse where a beautiful infinity pool overlooks the rice patties, and we sat in the massage bungalow.
Made told me about the different forms of meditation, how to focus, and that I would need to practice to calm my mind to a meditative state. You do this by focusing on your “third eye” which is that space in between your eyebrows when you close your eyes.
He told me that to meditate, I would need to stay focused and continue to bring my attention back to that third eye when my mind wanders. He said as I get better at meditating, I would slow down my brain waves until the wave flatlines. This is the point where I’d be able to visualize myself from the outside.
With Made’s coaching, I sat and meditated. It was difficult at first to let go of my thoughts and not think about all that was going on around me — the sound of the birds, the water, other guests, far away construction. However, the more we practiced, the better I got at it. At one point, I was so lost in my concentration, I couldn’t remember how I was sitting, how my hands were positioned. Made snapped me out of my meditation to tell me it was 20 minutes before 11:00 and do I want to try one more meditation? He asked me how long I’d like to sit for the final meditation and I asked him how long we had been sitting, thinking we had been doing 3 or 5 minute sessions. Imagine my surprise when he told me I was able to sit and meditate for 15 minutes!
I thanked Made, wishing I had another day in Bali so that I could schedule another morning session with him.
My camera had broken the night before, (which is why I don’t have a photo of Made) so I ran to the street to flag down a taxi motorbike. I quickly baught a camera and went off to Wayan’s healing center. Everyone knows her. Even my friend on the taxi mtorcycle told me he used to train with her!
Once at Wayan’s, I saw a photo she posted of the author Elizabeth Gilbert. Yep, I was in the right spot and was ready for the unexpected.
Wayan sat me down and had one of her helpers bring me some different drinks and some natural food and leaves. For a fee, she was going to give me her “official medical examination.”
She stated by lighting incense and saying a prayer to the Balinese gods. She had me stand in front of her. She waved her hands over different parts of my body, looked into my ears and mouth, and examined my legs. Then, like Ketut had done, she looked at my hands and examined each finger. She told me she was going to slim me down, give me better blood circulation and ease any back aches I may have.
Wayan started taking notes and talking to one of her assistants in Balinese. She brought over some more herbs and vitamins and told me to take them. Some she took with me, like calcium, some she didn’t. There was a hot green herbal tea involved as well. After the medical examination, she ushered me upstairs where I had no idea what she was going to do, but excited to find out.
She had me undress and put on a wrap. Then in got interesting.
I sat in a chair while 3 young men (her trainees) rubbed oils and potions on my skin of leaves, ginger, cinnamon, and other ingredients. One was at my feet, the other two at my arms and back and head. After about an hour of that, I was moved to a massage table.
The massage at Wayan’s was unlike any other. At one point, there were four sets of hands on my body. This went on for a while. I was in what seemed like a trance-like state. I flipped over to face up, and the royal treatment started again. Oils and potions and mixtures that smelled amazing were being rubbed on my skin.
Apparently, Wayan the medicine woman is very well known in Ubud. While receiving treatments upstairs, I could hear clients coming in to her shop asking for potions and creams that relieve everything from sunburn to a dislocated back. They seemed to be from all over the world; some spoke English, others did not.
Then, Wayan came and sat next to me on the massage table. She spoke to her massage prodiges in Balinese and one ran downstairs to get a couple of special leaves. When he came back, he put one in her mouth and she chewed it up….
…and the she spit it on my stomach!
He gave her another leaf; again, a second round of spitting. I was half disgusted, half intrigued. This was all part of her master plan, her “medical” treatment for me.
Then she called up a young girl who led me to the shower room. She and the girl together washed the potions and lotions off my body, with a homeade concotion of leaves and herbs in warm water.
I was then led upstairs to get dressed. Passing by the kitchen, I caught a waft of some incredible cooking, and was led back downstairs, where they fed me the most amazing meal I’ve ever had. It was Wayan’s famous multi-vitamin vegetarian lunch.
Each section of the meal had a slip of paper listing the food and the vitamins it contained. There was seaweed, grilled coconut, tofu, leaves, red rice, etc… and when I was finished, Wayan gave me a bag of teas and ingredients, and a health regimen to follow.
When I left, I looked at my watch. Four hours had passed.
Tammy came to Wayan’s shop just as I was finishing my Wayan health experience. We had a short amount of time to walk around before heading to the airport. That evening, I was dazed, as Tammy had been the night before. There’s just SOMETHING about Wayan…
When it was time to leave, it rained. Not a light rain, but a heavy, tropical downpour. Our driver Didi maneuvered though tiny mud streets that had turned into a river. It was unclear whether we’d make it to the airport. We did, just in time to be whisked off to our next destination: Singapore.