Life’s A Gift and Then Some – The Bali Spirit Is Surging!
I am like a kid waiting for Christmas. I keep getting sneak glimpses of joy, surges of excitement. Already the number of dreadlocked and tattoed young people has increased over the last week and the traffic in and out of Ubud’s always popular Kafe is building.
One of my favourite Ubud based and Bali Spirit Festival teachers, Sky – Mondays and Wednesdays 7am at The Yoga Barn, see the Festival program for his workshops – spoke at the beginning of a class recently about walking through the village and tripping in a pot-hole, finding yourself shin-deep in mud. For any of you who were lucky enough to attend last year’s spirit festival and travelled by motorbike, or simply for those who know the tropics during the wet, this image of slipping and finding oneself on one’s knees in the mud is easy to imagine.
Sky then went on to broaden the image, talking about the traditional Balinese greeting – Om Swastiastu: I see you and I greet you, I wish you freedom from all suffering – and how we could use this greeting with ourselves as we walk through the village of our own beings, meeting the many characters whom make up the whole, those we slip easily into conversation with and those who frighten us with their intensity, who frustrate us with their timidity. “Bow and greet these characters” Sky told us, “honour them and move on”.
Three years ago I would have had no idea what Sky was talking about, and the thought that I could actually observe my emotional state rather than being prey to it day in day out would have been inconceivable.
At last years festival as we all struggled with our motorbikes, sliding and slipping and some falling to the ground as we tried to get out of the parking area, the only look I saw on people’ faces, the feeling I felt in my heart, was joy. In the space created by the festival the muddy struggle with our bikes was a gift we had been given, a glorious opportunity to laugh and to let go, an opportunity to accept help from those around and to feel the mud between our toes and laugh as it rode up our legs: the rain that followed a cleansing gift.
The countdown to this year’s festival has begun and already Ubud is beginning to feel a little bit different. It is like antenna are raising or something, as though we are beginning to cock our ears for a longed for sound. Those of us lucky enough to live here are already getting that glint in our eye and today I saw my first of the travellers walking the back streets, one of those who come and stay for a few months, getting into all the pre, during and post-festival stuff, volunteering their services and just relishing the scene. Its like the lead up to Christmas when you were a kid, but you’re running on pure prana, not sugar, infinitely more sustainable.
Written by : Harriet Gaffney