The Gift of Ganesha

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As I leave the queen’s compound I walk into the alien brother whom I met in Varkala, one I ran into countless times in the small Indian town on the beach. Our work together is clearly not finished. He has wild long hair and piercing blue eyes and is less grounded than I it appears. We flitter and I jump with joy when I see his smiling face. He is in Ubud to study gamelan, amplifying his musical talents.

To Titra Empul I am bound again with a group of gorgeous goddesses. And organically, synchronistically, I run into the French sister who is too staying with the queen and has a mutual friend in the circle of women. We all cleanse together, enjoying blessed food following yet another magical experience. Water is soundly refreshing, healing, beautiful. I purify for many, calling in the spirits of sisters and brother afar whom seem to request assistance in this time.

Back in Ubud I run into a circus loving compatriot I have crossed countless times in addition to the only afro-haired Balinese brother I have encountered who passes on a bike. It is the fourth time in one week to feel his high-vibrational presence; I will absolutely chat in our next meeting.  I sit with the queen for a minute at her large marble table in the lobby, a place where she is often posted and passersby’s cannot easily leave.

I walk around for quite some time seeking dinner yet find it impossible to sit down anywhere. I sit on the edge of a street and am completely puzzled, hungry and unable to choose for I am being called elsewhere. I saunter around countless streets and ultimately walk past the afro guy, from a deep place in my heart I know this is where I am called to be.

He says he recognizes me too. I question if he is a healer and with a modest smile the kind man states as he sips a mug of tea outside a tiny used bookstore: “I am a channel of god nothing more”. We hang out for a while, I am feeling nourished by more than any dinner could provide.

After I speak of my love for Ganesha he reaches into his fanny pack and hands me a small jade carving of the deity. I am honored to receive the statue which he has carried for nearly three years. I gift him a sacred item in return, held in my purse too for some time patiently waiting to be gifted. We are one.

I place the Ganesha on my altar, feeding the spirits champa incense before laying my body to rest. Aho!

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Yogini Feathers

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Leisurely stroll through town back through the lush field of trees, over the bridge and up the stone stairs and down the tiny path to Penestanan. I sit and enjoy fresh nourishment as I correspond and feel the imaginative flow pour. The energy in Ubud is intense. I have so many ideas and simply need a troop to carry them out. Grounding and organization are not my strengths. Group weekend retreats to the organic farm where I offer morning yoga and meditation for guests in the bales is one of the countless creations being dropped in my consciousness.

In the late afternoon I hitch a ride to the gorgeous Ashram Munivara for a Kundalini tantra yoga class. The gardens here are truly divine.

A group of twelve or so of us wait patiently for an instructor to show up. We are on Bali time so precision is not to be expected, a couple of young kids and an overweight Rottweiler mix dog roam freely among the mats as well. The course is intended to begin at 5 pm and by 5:30 pm we are still missing a leader. I offer to teach vinyasa a la Dharma Mittra apologizing that I know nothing about Kundalini to share. We practice together, a mix of local and foreign yogis. Many are on their own wavelength, breathing Kundalini fire in alternate postures. All is perfect. The sun sets as the class is ending, the noisy chatter of the nighttime geckos escalating as the sky darkens.

At a basic warung I dine on gado-gado again, the most economical (anywhere from $1 to $3) and high energy vegan Balinese dish. This version is pretty decent, the peanut sauce perhaps missing a bit of the spicy punch. I will share a loose taste-test comparison of gado-gado in a future post.

The tribe convenes at Love Space to plan a communal beach trip to Amed on the east coast of Bali. Among the group we will share holotropic breathing techniques, acroyoga, Thai massage, morning sunrise meditation, Zen trekking near the volcano, snorkeling, and a shamanic opening and closing ceremony in which I will lead. An appropriate drum will be found, I can feel it despite all telling me it is impossible to find such items in Bali. Acquiring Palo Santo may be the only challenge. To my late Brazilian teacher Ipupiara (whose name translates to Fresh Water Dolphin) of the Ureu-eu-wau-wau tribe, the people of the stars, I love you so. I can feel your presence constantly and send you light.

Back at the compound we drink jasmine tea on china with a beauty from Paris. She is an old friend of the queen yet is quite different in personality, a rugged, nature loving photographer with many international adventures to share. She offers to teach me how to ride a motorbike and the queen shakes her head at such notion for queens prefer chariots. Flying is what I seek most.

Turtle Totems

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My blue-eyed alien brother picks me up to head to Cokorda’s sanctuary, Balian numero two (i.e. the dough boy version). He sneaks me to his own home first sans permission again, insisting I drink coffee and natter. It is challenging to be an angel seeing Balinese Hindu it seems, he finds my friendship comforting for I can honor his visions. He kindly invites me into his family. I am truly blessed with kindness, the gods showering generousity. To the universe I too radiate unconditional love, we all deserve nothing less.

Cokorda, alien brother, and I practice many forms of pranayama breathing, moving energy from the base of our spines to our crowns. He is so smiley the Balian, understanding happiness and peace truly from a deep place in his heart. He instructs me to practice the breathing techniques for twenty-one days before I can make any steps further; I eagerly, impatiently want to learn his traditional Balinese techniques of healing. We meditate together with our eyes closed before a throng of clients enter the walls in need of assistance. I appreciatively am witness to a healing, one where he channels great light and maneuvers a woman’s limp body in various ways.

Back in town I walk past the glorious bridge connecting Ubud to Penestanan and up the long flight of stairs covered in vines and turtle statues (one of my beloved totems) to meet a sister from the organic farm in East Bali. She is an inspiration beyond words, a goddess in her power leading a life of pure service. It is interesting how little she believes in spirituality despite being so seemingly connected and one who listens well. I judge her not for popping pain killers for her aches.

The project commenced in 2003 to assist poor farmers to not only be self-sufficient but maintain a traditional way of life. Profits from the organic garden and livestock are used for education; foreigners are invited welcomely to participate in all of the activities at the farm, working in the fields, learning about the native medicinal herbs, building new structures, teaching English, assisting the women in making traditional artwork, etc.

The motivated angelic sister travels to Singapore often to raise funds for the farm, hosting many social events among the elite. The money is funneled into purchasing more pigs, one can sponsor buying a cow, plant a tree in honor of another, contribute in the building of a new physical edifice. She speaks of her many years of experience traveling through Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, touching many with her generous and open heart. I walk her back to her modest abode, meeting her friendly female feline and wishing her well on her upcoming adventure to Singapore. We will reconvene to collaborate further when she returns.

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”Robert A. Heinlein

Land of the Ancestors

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There are plans to be picked up at 8 am by the Balian (friend of the daughter-in-law of the queen) to head for a purification ritual which organically turns into 10 am. His wonderful daughter arrives in a car, twenty-one and eager to return to the US to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where she worked as an intern for The Four Seasons hotel (also the location of her American boyfriend). She craves freedom from the Balinese structure of life where one lives with their own parents until moving into a compound with their husband’s family. I am also quite certain that it is not easy having a father with such intuitive skill that no thoughts or desires are guarded.

We collect her dad and another woman before heading far out of the center of the island where Ubud is located to the ancestral family land. The drive is more than an hour on roads with no signs. I have yet to see a traffic sign here in Bali and I suppose it is only because of the small size of the island is it possible to navigate.

The car is parked at the side of the rocky road and we head down a path of red earth, down countless terraces of wild fauna and past a field of Japanese pumpkins (they look like Mexican chayote), coffee trees, cacoa plants, papaya before reaching a small altar near a fountain of water. We set an offering for the entrance to the holy land before continuing down to the sacred river. Barefoot soft soil feels delicious on the base of my feet.

At the top of the waterfall we sit on rocks and meditate after dressing in sarongs, saying prayers and setting intentions. Blessings, offerings, magic. We head to the bottom pool of cool water, the Balian using a copper bracelet for clearing and amplifying energy as well as other sacred items. His energy is magnificent and strong, his solid body rattling as he prays. We swim upstream to the first fall without looking backwards, leaving the past that does not serve us behind. Dunking seven times, then eleven, then five, tailed by drinking and washing our faces three times under the crystal clean water the process flows. We climb the slimy green moss covered rocks together, holding hands to prevent slippage to the second tier where the same process is repeated but with an objective for restoring the present. The final terrace of the waterfall is for the future, for the beauty of mystery, for consciousness and creator. We sit together with gratitude, the sky beginning to sanctify the service with droplets of rain that grow in size rapidly. There is another cleansing and offering by the altar at the highest point of the river before we quickly change back into Western garb and seek shelter by the cow shed. The feminine smiles of the animals are filled with love. I rub their faces in delight.

Refreshed and awakened by the assistance of the spirits of the land, of the elements, of creator, we share blessed traditional treats and head back to the car.

We have to drop off Balian at his home just outside Ubud for he has clients to meet, giving my 21 year old sister and I more time to gossip. She speaks of the Balinese as hiding behind masks, a society where one’s individual emotions cannot be freely expressed for one must always put one’s family, ancestors, and constant practice of ancient ceremony first. Her yearning for America is quite strong although it seems as if her boyfriend is not as eager to reunite. I feel for my sister, hugging her tightly and extending my friendship whenever she needs an ear.

For dinner I crave Bali Buddha and the plump purple cushions and naturally run into the family of light, the fairy sister, Love Space boys, two from Thailand, one from Sumatra, a witty cat from England. Chat, share, create over organic yumminess.

Creating expansively from our hearts we walk in harmony, we walk together in the light.

Agnihotra Flames

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I could use a tank-top or two, my three shirts from the last four months plus of travel quite worn well. In the main market on Raya Ubud Street I peruse the aisles of the three-tiered edifice. The bottom layer is produce, meat, and other raw food items scattered among stands with women making altar offerings, weaving the dried leaves into baskets and lining them with assorted flowers. Incense as well as brightly colored mini cakes are sold everywhere, also for use in ceremony baskets. God clearly has a sweet tooth. The ground floor is mostly souvenirs items…batiks, tapestries, silk printed dresses and Ali Baba pants, stone carvings, paintings, silver jewelry, Hindu deities in all listed forms. Ubud is truly the art and cultural center of Bali. The top floor is a mix of knick-knacks as well as clothing for locals, neatly folded stacks of sarongs, kebayas, jeans. I seek simple shirts without Bintang beer slogans or the like and sense I may have better luck in this department. The choices for tanks are slim, most women preferring to cover their shoulders. I am too hot blooded to conform and will search further. The women in the stalls are beyond helpful, transferring me from one sister to another to show me their goods, shouting at one another seemingly saying something along the lines of “do you have plain tank-tops?” in Balinese. The ladies dress me with smiles, insisting I try on shirts I know will not fit properly or will be too hot for they are constructed out of very cheap and heavy rayon. I want to hug all of them.

I am curious about the location of my passport that I gave to a sister more than a week before and without needing to make a phone call, I receive a text from the visa assisting/yoga administrator saying it is ready to be picked up. I am gifted another month here in Bali, the island of the Gods. She requests to meet at a juice bar called Alchemy west of Ubud, the same location where a group of us have planned to assemble to head collectively to the evening Agnihotra fire ceremony, a purification ritual to heal oneself and mother earth. All is guided from the heavens.

At the juice emporium the tribe begins to assemble…fairy sister, the ashram sister, circus adoring siblings, the angel brother, a few others from the Bali Spirit festival. The angel brother gifts me a raw chocolate truffle and we read passages from his book about Mary Magdalene and the power of love. It is quite the public incestual brother/sister experience.

We share rides past rice fields to a huge house where the fire ceremony is beginning to organize. There are many people lying around the pool, others playing with a live boa, drinking fresh coconuts, partner yoga, assisting with the altar construction.

The amazing house:

The altar is set up on the top floor of the enormous abode overlooking a valley of greenery, made of bright flowers and blessed by Hindu priests dressed in white.

The fire ritual is set outside in the expansive yard, a circle shortly growing of the Ubud community. Faces are becoming increasingly familiar, slim men and women always in stretchy yoga gear. Several priests and the host sit in the center around the fire, one priest explaining each ritual in English as bells sing, mantras chanted, rice and water blessings. The fire burns from a copper pot fueled by cow dung and ghee. We all repeat the mantra “Svaha” as rice is tossed into the flames.

The ritual portion of the evening is complete with a kirtan by Kevin James, an Australian who truly pours his heart into his music. We are invited to enjoy a buffet of fresh salads and fruit, grains, durian wedges, and other vegetarian delights in addition to glasses of juice. In the upstairs temple space with the altar a live band began to play, a high-vibrational team with a powerful didge. Spaceship cruising and shakti shaking! Raw chocolate is passed on plates and poi spinners light toys in the yard while cuddle puddles form on the body size cushions under the open-aired bale. It is a festival of spiritual love.

The entire evening is by donation, an event of complete generosity by the man of the house. He opens his space every Wednesday as well for free kirtan. There were nearly 300 people in attendance throughout the night, mountains of motorbikes lined up outside his compound. Gratitude for his bounty and for boosting community harmony and light.

Monkey Business

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The rain pours fervently all evening, leaving a swamp in the bathroom of dirty water and crumbling wall mold. The bungalows here at the queens need massive renovations. I change to another bungalow here, one bathroom and one main room light do not function but the floor is dry. I am open universe to a new home although do not feel it will be in a traditional Balinese homestay, I envision creating a community living space with the Love Space boys, the fairy sister, the other from the ashram, the Russian brother and many more. My dreams are revealing many possibilities, the physical space will seemingly present itself in due time. Visions fly fast I sometimes feel crawling in my skin with ideas. Patience Eve, patience.

I return to Bali Buddha and am greeted by an angelic sister. She was at the villa of the acro playtime last evening and is an avid hoola hooper, carrying her sparkly toys with her. We know each other well, sharing our galactic journeys across mama earth.

Back in the rear of the Japanese shop there is a sample movement class by an old Eastern European yogi. It is creative combination of Qigong, sacred geometry, shamanic circle, and free expression.  The five of us tasting his divine conception all felt connected and blissed out following the fifteen minute appetizer. This man can do wonders with his work.

I bike some more, the only push bike in the sea of motors, heading up Monkey Forest Road past the sanctuary of primates. The gray animals roam the area freely, visitors often feeding them treats. I sit for a moment under the most glorious Banyan tree before a devious and sly monkey snatches away my large water bottle sitting next to my backpack, bites a hole in the bottom, and sips with a smile on his naughty face. Another crafty beast grabs my entire bag of limes out of my backpack and chews away at the sweet green fruit. These critters are quick! Alas a baby monkey sits on my bike and takes a nice chunk out of the seat, I return to riding for I have nothing else to steal.  I feel like the main character from Caps for Sale sans moustache.

I run into a Balinese real estate friend who has helped me see a bunch of homestays, we chat for a bit and eat snakefruit before hoping on the back of his motorbike to view a house nearly completed in construction. He shares that he feels I will assist him in renting the house. I will do my best.

Biking and singing mantras I head back to the market to buy more limes for tea and cookies for my brothers who work for the queen. I love them so.

Circus Gypsies

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At 6:30 am the house is already bustling, one girl preparing to head to school for an exam and the other two beginning to dress in sarongs and accompanying  shebang for another all day ceremony back in the family compound in Ubud.

I am sleepy and my body wants to remain in bed but a tiny voice says something like “go to the beach” so I do, walking out and down a down a couple of streets in the suburb before crossing a main road and onto a small path leading down to the shore. The sand is brilliantly black with spots of sparkly minerals and many have already arrived for the day, to stretch, surf, and relish the morning sun. I sit for a while and meditate before diving into the luxurious water, the temperature perfectly warm and nourishing. I dunk in the waves, letting the water rush over my crown as I ask for cleansing before thanking her affably for assistance. I am refreshed and eager to continue the day.

A kind house assistant makes fresh carrot juice and lays mangosteen and baby bananas out for noshing. There is a juice bar in this abode after all. My sister insists I taste a swig of noni juice, which tastes like crap but is incredibly wholesome. The word in Balinese for noni translates to poo fruit and it is all too true. On the drive to Ubud we stop at my sister’s man friend’s home for some coconuts picked directly off the tree, another wink at the motorbikes, and hugs.

My sister shows me her enormous mansion in the making in Ubud, a creation of her late husband, with a pool and countless outdoor platforms perfect for workshops. She wants little to do with the space, she cannot sell it for it is on family property and she cares not to live in such extravagance. I have many ideas in what to do with the space, retreats, classes, healing. I will pitch some ideas later.

Back at Bali Buddha I sit next to my fairy sister, who is dining with a brother from California. We are so close. She assists in pumping up my energy for my yoga audition, my first time to apply for such type of job. The studio has a serious ashtanga core and although my style of yoga isn’t so similar, I will approach all opportunities openly.

The studio is not quite finished so the practice event is held in a platform space behind a Japanese bag shop and café, next to a field of cows and rice.  There are five yoga teachers lined up to share their skills and we are asked to demonstrate one after another, only fifteen minutes each, beginning our class from the previous instructor. It is an odd way to communicate our abilities and how we structure lessons, I am the last to perform and feel the pressure of time.

I don’t feel as if I showed my best but I will hold no attachments to the outcome, I am spilling out with ideas of how to contribute to community here in Ubud I can barely rest. There are many paths to choose and I trust that all is aligned as it should be.  All is perfect.

Back in the acroyoga community we play.  This group of yogis is the most advanced group of acrobats I have encountered, all of them teachers, persistent travelers and imparting their skills around the world. The group is led by an Italian guy and a Canadian girl and is attended by a sister from Mexico who is heading to Israel next, a brother from Spain, another Canadian, and an American. International love. I am a base as well as a flyer, attempting skills named the corkscrew, among others. We end the class with four-handed massages, rubbing away any pains or strains from balancing the weight of another body. Acroyoga harmoniously combines the spiritual teachings of yoga, the metta of Thai massage, and the dynamism of acrobatics. The stew forms a pile of playful awesomeness. Yay!

In a small vegan warung owned and completely run by a local, a rarity in the vegan circle of restaurants,  I introduce myself to a Russian brother I have crossed paths with countless times in Ubud. He speaks little English and I sense thinks I am a bit nuts when I share enthusiastically about synchronicity and harmony and la di dah but we swap numbers still. I always see him sauntering alone and care to link him to other brothers and sisters for he too feels called to remain in Ubud for an extended period of time. Family love.