Bali is the Island of the Gods. There is no doubt about it, this is their home on earth.
The first time I learned about Bali was when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love. “ Cliché as it is, I became obsessed with the allure of Bali. I knew I had to make it here. It took me more than a decade.
Once my ticket was booked, I romanticized ideas of what my time in Bali would be like. Mind-altering yoga. Beauty at every turn. More love.
I had no idea what I was in for. The people were among the most harmonious I had ever met. The food tasted alive. The scenery looked straight out of a dream. The air hot, but fresh. What captured me was the way people lived, providing offerings to the gods multiple times of day. It made me stop to realize that nothing is more important in life than honoring the universe, the greater being that provides life to you. It was on the second day where I realized that Bali was also the home of mindfulness.
Here are four locations to practice being mindful in Bali.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
A UNESCO World Heritage site, and a little far off the beaten path, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces reach as far as the eye can see. I was captivated driving through the paddies and humbled as I walked the paths. There was a pulse in the land. I felt as if the gods were walking beside me. If I was quiet enough I could hear a soft hum, like a mother calling her children home. I felt the spirits dance around me.
Travel hack: the journey is a little far so make sure you give yourself at least an hour before heading to Tanah Lot for sunset.
Among the most iconic temple in Bali, Tanah Lot is the Temple in the sea. As I walked around the bend, the temple came into view, and my breath was instantly taken away. Separated by the sea, I walked to the edge of the rocks. As the water crashed around me, I now understood why this temple was built for the God of the Sea. Even though non-Balinese people are not allowed to enter the Temple during low tide, I only needed to stand in its presence to feel the blessings of prosperity it can offer.
Travel hack: The grounds can get quite crowded so come early for the temple and stay later for sunset. A little harder to find quiet but the views are not to be missed.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, Tegallalang, Gianyar
The next stop was the Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, one of the least visited temples in Bali. The waters are believed to be sacred and cannot be touched by human hands unless permitted by the high priest, and after one has bestowed offerings to the gods. Staring at the statue of Sarasvati, in the water gave me chills. (Sarasvati is the the Hindu goddess of knowledge, art, and wisdom. A guide next to me told his group that he wishes to be re-born as a fish in the scared waters. His idea of what the best possible vision of his next life could be took me by surprise. But the more I stared into the water, the clearer it became to me. It wasn’t the life of a fish he aimed for; the honor of living in these waters could only be bestowed upon the best among us. Maybe that is what the concept of the after-life is: honor.
Travel hack: you need to wear a sarong in order to enter and can save a couple dollars by borrowing the sarong from the Temple. If you bring an offering you may be blessed in the scared waters.
The moment that made me feel the essence of mindfulness was climbing up Mount Batur with my Under30Experiences group to watch the sunrise. It was the hardest thing I have ever physically done by far. Reaching the top was an internal spiritual awakening; I proved to myself that I am strong enough to do anything I am asked to do. The reward? It was as if the gods had gifted the sky to me that morning.
Travel hack: You will want to start your hike by 4 am. You can’t hike up without a guide and make sure you have a flashlight. The top of the summit gets cold so ensure you have on pants and at least one warm layer and enjoy a cup of warm tea at the top too.
These experiences all provided me with a sense of mindfulness, of connectedness, one of peace. Throughout my 20’s I struggled with the concept of God, of religion, of there being something greater than myself out there. But here in Bali, there is no question that the gods live among us, that we are connected to the land and the spirits, and that all we need is to surrender ourselves to see it.
This week I custom made some mala beads for myself, complete with rose quartz as a reminder to always lead with love. I will wear my mala beads with the utmost reverence, a reminder to continue to stay connected and remain mindful.
This piece was written by Travel Expert, Jennifer DeSimone. Reach out to Jennifer via Facebook or via email at Jennifer@theartofintentions.com