Thursday, July 22, 2010

the MOST fun I've ever had in my life

I wrote this two days ago, but accessing the interwebs has been challenging so this is going up late.  My intention was to post regular, but hey, it's a yoga retreat, so I'm being flexible and rolling with da punches!

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We’ve been in Bali four whole days now, having an amazing time.  It seems impossible sometimes, like I should ask someone to pinch me, like yesterday morning when we were all dressed up and loaded onto a bus heading to Tirta Empul for a water purification ceremony.  I said then, and I still think it’s true, that “this is the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life.” 

We had spent the morning so far having an early and  light breakfast (croissants, yogurt, muesli, Bali coffee) and being outfitted in Balinese dress suitable for our visit to Tirta.  Some people, the men in particular, required more assistance than others.  As he was creating an elaborate flounce on the front of Joe’s sarong, Iyan, one of our hosts, co-owner of OneWorld, explained that here in Bali, men are the roosters, hence the additional flair (and the several subsequent jokes about what a cock Joe is).  Watching people’s delight as their amateur attempt at wrapping the sarong was transformed by skillful hands made me laugh and jump around so much.

And of course that came after the 30 minutes worth of non-stop giggling in my own room, pretty much my first activity of the day, at our own efforts to suit up.

Off we went on our bus to Tirta Empul, according to the guidebook a natural spring discovered in 962, said to have healing properties, its temple one of Bali's most important.

Most people just come in, “lease” a cheap sarong and walk the grounds.  We made offerings, participated in a water purification ceremony, had prayers said over us by a priest, were blessed.  And then practiced yoga for 1 ½ hours in sight of the temple, a bit on display on our elevated stage, watched, photographed and filmed by busloads of tourists who arrived later, our own little island of peace and quiet.

Following one initial offering and some prayers, we stripped off our sarongs and white shirts, leaving only the white sheet we were wrapped in, over bathing suit or underwear.  My bathing suit was still wet from the day before, so I opted for underwear, something I immediately regretted upon entering the water and realizing the sheet would be basically up over my head at each ritual spout, not to mention I’d be showing my entire ass through the back of the transparent wet white sheet on the way back to the locker room. Oh well, another day, another opportunity for humility.

From the dunking, we put on yoga clothes and re-wrapped sarongs for prayers in the temple proper, after which we were splashed with holy water and had grains of rice (for abundance) pressed onto our foreheads.

Obviously, I couldn’t understand a word the priest said or sang, but enjoyed my time sitting on the ground, as the rain came down and soaked us, listening and smelling and observing.  It’s not everyday I find myself in a pink sarong, in a pouring rain, still. 

And then came yoga.  And then delicious snacks brought by the staff of Kumara Sakti, and then a ride to Gunung Kawi, another amazing place, and then back to Ubud. 

As I sit here thinking about it all, I realize that I don’t want this to just be some endless “and then” recitation.  I think I’ll leave the blow-by-blow for the annotated Flickr stream, for those who really want to see what it was like, step by step and day by day.  Here what I mostly want to say is that I really, truly am having the time of my life, so enjoying being here with Joe, with Laura, with Abe and Pamela and Gary and Barbara and Hasya and Erin and the rest, giving ourselves up fully to the bhakti (love) and bliss which are the themes of this retreat.

Every single day I’m laughing a lot, practicing and loving this place so hard.  Vacation rules, but yoga-vacation is even better.

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