I’m sitting in my little hotel in Bali, packing my bags to come home to Switzerland, my head full of memories and my heart full of love for this wonderful island and its amazing people.
I arrived in Ubud, Bali, 8-weeks ago, but, it feels like I have been here for a lifetime. I came with many goals, none of which I achieved. I didn’t manage to miraculously lose 20 pounds. I’m certainly not a yoga expert. I didn’t write an earth shattering book like “Eat, Pray, Love” about my personal transformation. Oh, and I didn’t meet the man of my dreams either.
I did, however, grow in so many ways and gain a deep wisdom about life. Now, as I sit drinking my last fresh coconut water of the year, I want to tell you about the 7 things that I will be bringing back with me from my Bali trip.
I have always tried to practice gratitude every day of my life. My goal has been to not take anything for granted and to be truly appreciative of all that I have.
However, I feel that, despite my efforts to be thankful for my family, friends, experiences and gifts, I never really learned to just be grateful for my life.
In Bali, people have gratitude for achieving balance in life. This is what they call “Tri Hita Karana” – living in harmony with God, among humans and with nature. That describes their simple and profound attitude to gratitude. Now, it is also my guiding light.
Outsiders have a belief that people in Bali are always smiling. I’m not usually one for stereotypes, but, this one is absolutely true!
When I asked some lovely people at the Alila Uluwatu hotel why they were always happy, they said simply, “we are always happy because everyone in Bali is family.”
People in Bali believe that karma requires that they be aware that every one of their actions produces a good or bad outcome in the future. So, if they are positive and considerate in every action and thought now, they will receive protection and blessings in the future.
To make this even more impactful, they believe that their actions and thoughts are often rewarded immediately, not just in 10 years.
They truly live in the moment. This, combined with the sense that everyone, including visitors like me, are family results in a powerful unconditional happiness.
I learned that there is a strong force of “karmic acceleration” in Bali. For me, this meant that if I put an intention in the world, there was some force that created a connection, an introduction, a situation that actualized my desire.
I know this sounds a little abstract, but, so many times I would think about something I needed or a person I wanted to meet and within a few hours (sometimes minutes) a connection would appear.
Life in Bali is lived in full technicolor and with high speed karmic joy!
In our Sixty and Me Community, we talk a lot about gaining precious confidence in ourselves. We discuss how this opens doors to expressing our individuality and following our passions.
Priority setting and productivity are often blocked when we don’t believe in ourselves. Here in Bali, I had a crash course in pushing myself beyond what I thought were my limits. I came out on the other end being able to scream “I did it!”
Everything from travelling solo and confronting my fears about nature to redefining my goals about my yoga practice and accepting my aging body pushed me to my psychological limits.
There are so many stereotypes that we deal with as older women. We are called seniors, pensioners, elder, hags and biddies. Here, in Bali, older women are simply women.
Any woman who is not a girl is called IBU. Simple. A married woman with children is a NYONYA and a beautiful woman is called IBU CANTIK.
Older women are respected, active, strong and resourceful. I have seen 70-year-old women carrying heavy baskets on their heads. I have watched older women riding scooters with their grandchildren tucked between their legs. I have watched them at temples walking up steps that would terrify me with ease.
They are great marketers and sellers as I found out when passing the many market stalls in Ubud.
Many older women here have the most stunning sense of style. The colors of their stunning kebaya outfits, worn for ceremonies, are remarkable and allow women of all ages to celebrate their deep femininity and strength.
I came to Bali, in part, to restart my yoga practice, after 30 years. I showed up almost every day at the Yoga Barn in Ubud. When I started, I felt alone. My yoga mat and stiff body felt like my only friends.
Soon, I found friendship and warmth in the teachers and, more importantly, discovered the basic flaw in my thinking. I incorrectly thought that simply setting a goal and pushing hard to achieve was enough to “succeed” at yoga. After all, this had worked in other aspects of my life. I soon learned to stop being so hard on myself. I didn’t need to achieve perfection, whatever that means.
The journey was internal and only when I learned to embrace my aging body did I have the breakthrough I desired.
I learned that the true value of yoga was in the inner changes that took place in my body, mind and spirit.
In fact, I discovered that the yoga positions were only a very small part of “yoga way of life.” Meditation, mindfulness, diet, relationships and discipline are also critically important. This is why I honestly say, with hand on heart, that yoga changed my life.
During my time in Bali, I was honored to visit a number of beautiful hotels, including Bali Eco Stay, Tugu Resort, Maya Resorts, all 5 Alilia Hotels and Desa Seni.
My criteria was to stay in places that were promoting “sustainable tourism” as a core value.
Working in partnership with Alex Tsuk, from BookGreener, who organized my visits, I discovered something surprising about sustainable tourism. I learned that sustainable tourism and luxury can go hand in hand. I also discovered that sustainable tourism is not just about sustainability certifications. It is about the small behaviors that these amazing hotels demonstrate every minute of every day.
Every single one of the hotels that I visited were considerate with waste and thoughtful of the environment. Yes, they also all recycled. But, there efforts went beyond the basics.
Most of the hotels I visited had permaculture gardens that provided fresh vegetables and fruit for their mouth-watering recipes. Almost all of them were involved with local charities and social programs.
I learned that luxurious side of sustainable tourism is really about creating opportunities for visitors to experience transformational moments.
If you are interested getting the most from your trip to Bali, while keeping the environment clean and safe, I highly encourage you to contact Alex. He showed me a side of Bali that I could have never dreamed of. I’m sure that he can do the same for you!
There was one moment in Bali that changed me profoundly. It was so powerful that I don’t think I can even put it into words here. Hopefully, one day, I will find a way to describe it. When I do, I will share it with you. Until then, all I can say is that Bali has refreshed me right down into the depths of my soul. It has helped me to become a stronger, more balanced woman. I can’t wait to come back again soon!
What trip have you taken that changed your life the most? What did it teach you about yourself? Would you join me on my next trip to Bali, if I organize a group tour? Please join the conversation.