My Bali experience : Ubud healers, rituals and spirituality

The first time I came to Bali was 3 years ago. I was doing a program from my university in Singapore and I had planned for the days around my birthday to go for a short trip to Bali with a friend visiting me from France. I didn't know anything about Bali and funnily enough in my head I imagined a small hippie island that was getting too much publicity from tourism, and of course I couldn't be more wrong than that!

While that holiday was definitely fun, I had mostly seen beaches in Canggu , a couple of clubs and some beautiful sunsets in Seminyak, but I hadn't explored at all the cultural and spiritual heart of the island , Ubud.

So 3 years after, with my life turned around by getting into personal development, becoming a life coach and yoga teacher and testing on myself different kind of healing therapies and practically seeing everything from a more magical and spiritual perspective, I found myself booking a trip to Bali with one of my best friends ( and with the same unicorn mindset as me ;-) for 3 weeks this summer.

The idea for the trip had landed to me after doing my first astrology session of my life in Paris back in March , where the astrologer told me that September was a "lucky sky" for me where the Universe would have sent some gifts my way was taking a well deserved break after a life changing year and recharging my batteries doing whatever my heart wanted on a daily basis, a pretty blissful plan! 

Experiencing Ubud gave me so many insights and content to share that I will write 3 different articles on the food scene, the wellness scene and today I will start from maybe the most appealing topic that makes this place so unique, it's traditions full of rituals and my experience with local healers. 

They call UBUD the "karmic blender" and I could definitely feel such a vibrant and agitated energy here, that brought up so much stuff for me to face and overcome, so visiting the healers was a valuable and also cultural experience . 


Starting from up left , photo of me and Anna during the Astrology workshop . The lady on the right is the healer Tunjung ( photo from her website http://www.tunjungbalihealer.com) . Then photo of the patio of the beautiful home of the astrologer. Bottom right is an example of a balinese offering , credit to this website and article http://alittleadrift.com/ritual-balinese-beliefs-offerings/ . Then an image of Cokorda Rai from here https://thevagabondfeminist.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/cokorda-rai/ . Finally bottom left a beautiful sunset in Ubud. 

Starting from up left , photo of me and Anna during the Astrology workshop . The lady on the right is the healer Tunjung ( photo from her website http://www.tunjungbalihealer.com) . Then photo of the patio of the beautiful home of the astrologer. Bottom right is an example of a balinese offering , credit to this website and article http://alittleadrift.com/ritual-balinese-beliefs-offerings/ . Then an image of Cokorda Rai from here https://thevagabondfeminist.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/cokorda-rai/ . Finally bottom left a beautiful sunset in Ubud. 

Did you know that balinese people spend about 40% of their income on rituals? Here hinduism is the main religion as opposed to the rest of Indonesia which is a mainly muslim. And apparently there are 3 ways for people to advance in their spiritual path : studying the sacred texts, having a certain attitude everyday and performing rituals. And since the first 2 are not always easy to perform during the mundane tasks, people focus on the third one !

If you have been anywhere in Bali you may have noticed offerings made with flowers, food and incense placed on the streets, in restaurants, hotels, absolutely anywhere and maybe you have also observed balinese women and men placing the offerings in the mornings or evenings and doing some gentle and elegant gestures with their hands and whispering prayers.

These daily rituals are only a fraction of all the ceremonies that happen during the year, and as a funny taxi driver told me "if there are 365 days in a year, in around 300 there are ceremonies happening !"

Apart from observing these moments I noticed other things :

  • People are incredibly kind, peaceful and smiley and they connect with foreigners with an open heart
  • Ubud certainly has something magical in its energy. If you're a sensitive person spending some days there you may have felt it in your body. I felt always agitated and woke up extra early every morning, I had some insights about my life that were truly profound and the soft voice of my intuition here was so powerful and direct and led me to experiences I wouldn't have considered doing ( like this swing, singing and speaking up much more, walking a lot and moving my body in new ways)
  • Balinese houses look like temples , and actually they contain one! Each family has their own temple, regardless the size of the house and they perform ceremonies there. The house itself is built according to a specific set of rules. There are 8 points of reference where they have to place the different buildings on the house, and the most sacred part which is the temple has to be placed toward the source of the water, the Mount Batur while less important parts are further away from it, like the kitchen or the entrance. It's similar to the feng shui system in China. 
  • In the local tradition people go to healers , which are often regular people that have experienced a form of awakening during their lives and they have developed energy healing talents that they share with balinese and some of them with tourists as well. After talking to some young balinese we noticed that some of them are skeptical about the Balians ( the name given to the healers) and they prefer the most western healing techniques, so there is a gradual disconnection from this tradition. But we were super curious so we wanted to try.

COKORDA RAI UBUD MOST FAMOUS HEALER

Excited about finding a healers, and after some online research we found out that COKORDA RAI is considered the number one healer in Ubud, at least according to other travelers experiences. He is very well known so if you ask to a taxi driver to take you to him, he will probably know who you're talking about and where he lives.

So after finding a driver,  we quickly got to the healer's house which is about 20 minutes from the centre of Ubud and it looks like a compound of decorated buildings in the traditional style. Outside of his house many balinese men and women were busy creating beautiful offerings  for one of the ceremonies to be held in the home's temple. 

In order to see a healer, as when you enter a temple you need to wear a sarong, and likely our driver had a couple of sarongs in the back of his car.

We were very lucky because at the time we arrived there ( around 2PM) there were no tourists and we could see the healer straight away. Cokorda is 86 years old and have become a healer when he was 50 after suddenly suffering from an illness and recovering from it after a vision he had during the night.  You can easily Google his name to find an interview where he tells his story in details. 

I'm the first to go and he asks me to sit on the floor , my back to him. He receives people for sessions on a raised platform in his garden, surrounded by trees, and the people waiting can observe and witness the sessions, so don't expect "privacy" like you would have with a medical doctor.  His treatment lasts about 5 minutes for each person . 

Cokorda is a simple man, with a peaceful and grounded energy. As I had read in some articles before going he puts his fingers in my ears ( which is actually a bit painful and funny at the same time) and he moves quickly his fingers over my forehead and throat. After a couple of minutes makes a diagnosis  and repeat to me things like anxiety and lymphatic system. Then he touches the shoulders and arms and with gestures he moves the energy out of my hands and arms.  Then I lay down on a flat mat on the floor and he starts to press a little stick under my toes and it is pretty painful.  With this reflexology technique he identifies stress in my stomach, lower back and after reciting some mantras and doing some movements over the body he tells me that he's healing these areas. And once again with the little stick he presses under my toes and this time, no pain!

The whole thing lasted around 5 minutes and it's a bit hard to remember all he did but it's was beautiful to watch and truly simple and powerful at the same time.

Then we placed our payment in some flower offerings next to him. 

I was truly fascinated by this experience and some days after I bought in a local library a book that an american wrote few years ago about the balinese healing system and which was based on Cokorda work, with whom he spent 14 years studying as his student . It contains the explanation of all the energy movements he does, which I'll have a try at when I'm back in Paris. 

To have a session with him the easiest way it's to find a taxi and wait your turn, and If you're lucky enough you will not have to wait too long. The offering for the session is about IDR300,000 -350,000 , it's the healer that tells you how much to put. 

 

TUNJUNG SPIRITUAL HEALER IN UBUD 

 

One of the first days I was in Ubud I went to try some yoga classes in a studio called intuitive Flow in Penestanan area. After one class I stopped to talk to the teacher and I asked her if she knew someone that could help me with my fear of flying that was a pretty debilitating experience on the way to Bali. By chance another girl in the class stepped in the conversation, and she told me she lived in Bali and knew different western and local therapists and healers. After a few days I contacted her and she gave me some names, and one of them was from a balinese healer and energy therapist called Tunjung.

Tunjung is specialized in psychic readings and spiritual healing and she uses different modalities that you can check on her website here. 

So I booked a session with her for the following day and it was an amazing experience. Tunjung has a beautiful vibe and strong energy, in my case we discussed first my experience and fear of flying where she gave me some beautiful tips and then I received an energy healing session using crystal and touch on similar to Reiki. 

I really loved this session and I went out feeling much lighter and more confident about my situation, we will see when I get my flight in a couple of day :-)

To contact her you can simply call at the Pertenin Body Care Centre where she holds her session. The cost of the 60min session was IDR600,000 . 

 

HINDU ASTROLOGY AND NUMEROLOGY WORKSHOP AT ARMA MUSEUM 

 

Finally the last experience we did was not a healing session,  but a workshop organized by the beautiful balinese museum ARMA. At this point we were curious not in being healed but mostly in understanding a bit more about the rituals based on the balinese calendar and astrology.

So we were driven from the museum ( which by the way is beautiful and worthy it's own visit) to the house of an expert in astrology and balinese traditions. I cannot remember right now his name, but he was a kind and knowledgable man that lives just outside Ubud in a gorgeous compound and he received us in his beautiful "terrace" with view on the garden.

Shortly after I learned a lot of information on the balinese homes, how they are built and the fact that balinese spend most time outside in open spaces and they basically just sleep inside, that's why when you visit a local home you'll see very little closed space. In local tradition people lives in direct contact with Mother Nature and in each house there is an altar dedicated to this connection. All the important decisions in a family, like weddings, building a house and much more are done on specific dates and after asking the permission to the divinity. 

We had a couple of hours discussion and he explained us all about the local calendar which is based on Astrology and determinate all the ceremonies and local rituals , and on top of that by looking at our birth dates he determined what I can define as our "balinese astrology sign" with all the relative personality traits and characteristics. 

The whole system is very fascinating and complicated. The element of nature is key, as well as the dance between the feminine and masculine. We only got a tiny glimpse of it through this workshop, and a desire to learn more.

To book this workshop you can check the website of the museum http://www.armabali.com/arma-culture/workshops/ and simply send an email of call them. It is offered if there are a minimum of 2 people interested , and the dates are flexible. 

The duration was two hours plus the time to get there and come back to Ubud and the price is US$44.


To conclude on this topic, if you pass by Ubud this is a unique experience , even if you don't believe or understand these healing methods and philosophies it's still a beautiful cultural experience to have! I love testing alternative healing modalities and I think they can add so much to our lives, help us heal old wounds and give such a greater and magical perspective on this adventure we call life! 

Have you ever tried anything similar? What were your favorite experiences when visiting Ubud? Anything else you would like to know? Just comment below and I'll be happy to give you more details ! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alessia Gandolfo