As I sit here in Mexico sipping Bali coffee and munching on Vegemite toast (having been up since 3AM due to jet lag), my time in Bali almost seems like a dream.
A beautiful, blissful dream.
I’ve hesitated to write about the retreat due to not having anything other than hyperbole to describe my experience.
Magical. Life changing. Blissful. Abundant.
And yet, it is all true.
It was all that, and more.
So much more.
Nothing could have prepared me for having my heart blown open by 18 courageous, unique, loving, amazing women who came together for the retreat.
Or the mind opening, intimate moments we experienced during meditation classes.
Or watching the sunrise from a small wooden fishing boat with one of my oldest, dearest friends as a pod of twenty dolphins cascaded past our gaping mouths.
Or looking into the eyes of my mother during a ‘seeing’ exercise and being filled with her maternal love.
Or riding in local bemos to a secret temple in the mountains to participate in a ceremony with a young local priest from the village.
The evening before the retreat I told myself, “Just get everyone there and then you can relax,” as I added ticks next to my checklist of names.
We met at a modern hotel in Seminyak which was new, reasonably priced and convenient. Dinner was accompanied by a fire twirling, rather raunchy Balinese dancer and pumping doof doof music.
I logged onto Facebook and received a message from my Mum’s friend (and intended room mate) that she wasn’t let on the flight due to her passport having less than six months’ validity (let that be a lesson to us all). I was completely heart broken for her. I sent out a prayer that she would be guided to the best solution.
In the early hours of the next morning, I lay awake in bed having an ego attack about why the hell I thought I could pull this thing off. Ego attacks never really make sense, but it went something like, Who do you think you are, getting these women to fly across the globe to spend a week meditating with you? Don’t you remember all the terrible things you have done in your life and all the mistakes you have made?
The Gayatri mantra had began to play in the nearby village and was drifting across rice fields through my hotel window. I poured out of bed like a slinky onto the cool tiles. The antithesis of ego is reality, and in that moment, the hard floor beneath me and my beating heart were the only real things I could hold on to.
With both hands on my chest, I allowed my heartbeat to drown out my negative thoughts.
I reflected on all the amazing women from five different countries I’d met that night. ‘But look at the beauty it has created,’ was the message which arose within me. I let the tears flow down my cheeks at the realization of this truth which has permeated my entire journey.
And the retreat sure was beautiful.
Every, single soul who joined was an integral part of the experience.
New friendships were formed, old friendships were deepened. Most important were the friendships cultivated with our inner selves.
All the women experienced shifts in the way they saw themselves.
I experienced a powerful moment of self-forgiveness, delivered by Divine Love.
And then, there was dancing.
And laughing. LOTS of laughing. And paddle boarding and snorkeling and cooking classes and playing with local kids.
There was also the superb eating, which was our main activity of the day and the topic upon which most conversations were based.
There were a few pesky mosquito bites and a bit of sunburn (welcome to the tropics!).
There maaaaay have been reports of a toothpaste eating rat, but I’m not willing to confirm that one (I’ll leave that to you, Kristine 😉 )
There was definitely full-moon night swimming and whirl-pooling which concluded with one beautiful lady declaring it ‘the best night of her life!’
Many of us concurred.
For me, it was truly one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve been blessed with, thanks to the group, the peaceful and secluded location, the gentle, kind, staff of the resort and of course, our amazing teacher, Gisela von Keiser-Grenkowitz, who yet again blew me away with her presence, wisdom and radiance.
I learned so much.
Most of all, I learned that I am on the right path and always have been; that the periods of pain and confusion make the joy and clarity so much more meaningful and that this journey is taking me exactly where I am meant to go with the people I’m meant to go with.
Thank you Courtney, Kelly, Penny, Mum, Amyris, Annette, Lauren, Kristine, Celia, Jayne, Tara, Irene, Leigh, Rosan, Jennifer, Isabelle, Bisa, Gisela and all the staff of the Bali Mandala for an amazing experience.
And thank you to my wonderful community of friends and readers for your warm wishes and blessings during my trip. I truly appreciate you all.