Bali Spirit Festival, Ubud Bali May 7-11th, 2025

Yoga Dance Music Healing

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Love You Madly

Let’s face it: festivals are crazy. The five days of BaliSpirit 2013 have been some of the most joyful, chaotic and demanding I can remember. I arrive this morning just as the heavens open, dodging the worst of the rain as I park my scooter and skip across the grounds to Les Leventhal’s rockurasana class. Yoga and rock music. It’s an intense, strangely moving combination. When he concludes the class with an intense frog pose and asks us to “think of someone who’s not here, not on this island, but who your heart believes will soon be standing beside you”, I shed tears.

“Get the hell out of my way”. (Photo credit: Ulrike Reinhold)

I kicked off my day dancing around the main pavilion in my yoga shorts. Now I’m lying on the grass outside the amphitheatre while Jamie Catto (yeah, the bloke from Faithless and One Giant Leap) reminds us that we’re all crackers. “Have you ever thought about how bizarre it is that we all turn up for work every morning and pretend we’re not crazy? If your clients knew what goes on in your head, do you think for one minute that they’d set foot in your studios or lie on your massage tables?”

The session is titled: “What About Intimacy? A Deeper Look at Relating Which Reawakens Affection, Appreciation, and Passion”. Over the course of the following three hours, we sit face-to-face with total strangers, confront the ways we prevent ourselves from getting what we want, and shake what our mommas gave us to the strains of Prince and Michael Jackson.

“All relationships, all challenges, are ways in which we’re trying to mend ourselves and get back to being our beautiful, juicy, sexy selves”. To this end, Jamie invites us to pick a partner, imagine we’re on a first date, and “lead with the insanities, so there’s no false advertising”. This involves starting sentences with the phrase “before we go any further, you should know … ” and confessing to dark aspects of our personalities that would inevitably surface in a long-term relationship.

His point is that we’re all trying to look good, to maintain a front, but that it’s only when we risk being our vulnerable, weird and kooky selves that we can truly see, love, and appreciate one another. When we’re willing to hold our hands up and say: “I admit it; these are the ways in which I’m a total crackpot”, we open up the space to enjoy and play with our own and others’ crazinesses.

This requires us to soften our prejudices and listen – really listen. Not just to the words others say, but to the unspoken fears and longings, the unsolved mysteries, that make us who we are. It requires us to pay attention to the markings on our souls. “The greatest lovemaking, the greatest parenting, the greatest songs ever written … they all come when we’re in that listening field”.

The workshop draws to a close, and I drift off to laze on the grass and soak up the sights, sounds, and smells of the last afternoon of the festival. It’s been a trip; one that I probably won’t comprehend the full impact of until I’ve had some time to reflect and recompose myself.

One thing I love about Bali, and Asia as a whole, is the way the chaos of life is visible on the surface rather than hidden away behind closed doors, as it so often is in Western countries. As the curtain falls on BaliSpirit 2013, I wonder whether there’s an important lesson buried in the mess and disorder. Perhaps our natural exuberance is suppressed when we seek to control and dictate, rather than simply to ride the waves life throws at us. Perhaps we actually function more effectively when we surrender our ideals and immerse ourselves in the flow. Perhaps that what makes a touch of insanity so loveable.

Tired, but happy. (Photo credit: Ulrike Reinhold)

Continue the conversation on Twitter – use #balispirit in your posts on festival highlights, photos and shares.

Written by : Robert Wolf Petersen


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