06 December 2013
November flew in with the rainy season and then flew right on by! I can't believe how fast this year is moving . . . Enjoy these Instagram favorites! Can't wait to see what December brings! Happy start to the big holiday season, everyone!
05 December 2013
Aye yi yi . . . Bali seems so long ago. But in reality, I only left Bali about 36 hours ago. My goodness, how time flies. You'll be happy to know that I fixed my computer and have taken all of the images I shot from the years 2010 - 2011 off of this system. They are currently living in a flash drive (I know, risky), but I will put them onto some sort of hard drive any day now . . . Thank you for your patience. (Insert unnaturally happy emoticon here.)
On the third day of my stay at fivelements, I kicked it off with another giant beautiful breakfast. I finally had to come to terms with the fact that all of the food I was eating at this amazing place was going to be beautiful, so I had to stop taking pictures of it.
Then I went next door for my holistic massage. My second massage since arriving in Bali, this massage was different than when I visited the healer on the first day of my stay. This holistic massage included reflexology. Not necessarily a comfortable thing to endure, but I definitely came out feeling like my body had been worked out. He told me that I held a lot of stress in my shoulders, that they were really tight. But the pain I always feel--ever since 2007 (thank you, clay studio)--has been in my lower back, specifically on the lefthand side. He said that's what the shoulder tension is connected to. Interesting. I've never felt any pain in my shoulders or my lower neck. But I can honestly say that I haven't felt any pain anywhere since visiting fivelements (except for maybe the emotional pain of having to leave Bali).
I had a juice and shared some more of my thoughts with Janur. We talked about how I was in the process of trying to change my artistic practice so that the work I was making was more meaningful to me. (Recently I've felt very little connection to my work, and returning to grad school is a way for me to process that disconnect and work through this big change.) This retreat helped me to slow down and really think about things. So the change in my artistic practice is a little less fuzzy. I can see it beginning to take shape. Prior to arriving at fivelements, one of my friends in Singapore had described me as always seemingly "having a sense of urgency". It's true. On a daily basis I could hear myself saying, "in and out and nobody gets hurt", "let's do this", "go-go-go". fivelements helped me feel less rushed, a bit more calm. Rested would be a good way to describe how I felt. I also came to the conclusion that being centered is not the absence of stress, but the shift of having it be the focus in your life.
I went swimming after my conversation with Janur before my last treatment of the day. And it was by far the most intriguing treatment: water healing. I spent close to two hours in a small warm pool with floats on my legs while a lady named Isa cradled my head and sort of spun my body around and dunked me under water regularly. I had my eyes closed the entire time. At first, I almost burst out laughing because I couldn't get this one episode of New Girl out of my head--the one where Nick goes to water healing. (And I don't even watch that show regularly . . . ) Luckily I was able to contain myself. The only way I can describe water healing is that it's a combination of nurturing and sensual. It felt very fast--like she was spinning me around, moving me very fast. I felt like from above I must have looked like a snake moving on top of water. About halfway through the process, she started dunking me. She handed me some nose plugs and just starting flipping me over and down into the water, my eyes still closed. I felt like a mermaid, like I could stay underwater forever. And my eyes were closed, but all I could see was blue. This rich, velvety turquoise blue color. It was really a bizarre and invigorating experience. I kept thinking, people with severe trust issues would have a super-hard time with this exercise. I basically gave over my entire person to this woman and she kind of just guided me around in the pool. Really incredible. I've attached a video below from the fivelements website. Take a look at water healing . . .
Almost immediately after this experience, I hopped in a van with Janur and he took me over to Susan's art teaching studio that she runs with her husband. (Remember Susan? She's the one that I danced with towards the end of day 2.) Their teaching studio is called Yellow Coco Creative Nest. When I walked into her space, I was instantly reminded of various spaces that I had visited in Austin, TX. I'm not sure why--perhaps it's because the class was being held outside and the weather was similar or something. I don't know. It just felt like Austin. Young people and their parents were in a big circle, playing with drums and symbols, singing and clapping. And there was a huge community garden out front, and 3 dogs and 5 or 6 chickens running around. It was a fun and colorful space. I was still a little woozy from the whole water healing experience, but so happy to have gotten a chance to visit with Susan in her space.
This was also the last time that I would see Janur during my fivelements stay. And--quite frankly--I felt a little bit sad about this . . . He had been a really great guide throughout the entire weekend. But he has 2 year old twins at home and his day off is on Sundays. So, it was time to say goodbye. Sad face clown.
The next morning--my fourth and final day--after breakfast, I was treated to the most amazing super food beauty ritual: a facial that included Bali-grown neem, an aromatic floral steam, a fresh pineapple serum, chilled quartz crystals, a spirulina-seaweed mask, and a relaxing massage. It was my last treatment and 2 hours long! Needless to say, it was lovely . . . And my face, neck, and shoulders still feel amazing.
I spent the rest of the day packing and sitting out by the pool. My shuttle back to the airport left around 630pm. I can't tell you how much this short little trip has changed my thinking and approach to various parts of my life. For one, I have only been back in Singapore for a short amount of time. So to really see the affects of this trip, I will have to report back in about a month or so. But I will say this, I honestly feel more relaxed and "settled". I don't feel like I'm "running out of time". For years, I have felt like everything I have done has been because I was afraid a time would come where I wouldn't be able to do that one thing. It could be anything: taking a class, buying a book, building an installation, traveling. Now I feel like I can actually sit back and say, let's think about that choice for a second and really decide if it needs to be done now or if it can wait. Does that make sense?
I've been a bit wordy and fiercely personal in these last two posts . . . I think it's because of the nature of the retreat that I went on. I leave for New Delhi, India in just a short 8 days. I have been accepted to a residency at the Sanskriti Foundation. I will be making artwork and writing the entire time I am there. Be prepared, people. I'm sure that the posts will be full of color, hilarity, and lots and lots of excitement!
30 November 2013
Well . . . It’s happened. I have completely rendered my computer unfunctional because I have taken too many pictures. TOO MANY PICTURES. That which I enjoy so much has now reared it’s ugly head. My iPhoto—which proudly contains close to 50,000 images and countless videos--is taking up so much space on my computer that none of my regular apps can open. Knowing this causes a tightness in my belly. An extension of my person has seized up and stopped working. Oi.
Ironic that this should take place while I am on a retreat in Bali.
I am enrolled in the Panca Mahabhuta retreat at fivelements. fivelements is a holistic integrative program that combines traditional Balinese-inspired therapies, living foods nutrition, and sacred arts programming. I have been interested in doing a retreat for quite some time now, and this Thanksgiving holiday seemed like the perfect time to try it out. (Bali has been my Thanksgiving hideout since moving to Singapore. You might remember seeing this Batik come to life here, or how much fun I had rafting through the countryside here.)
My initial interest in fivelements came about in my online research when I happened upon a retreat they were holding called Finding Center. Finding Center focuses on clay—specific to wheelthrowing—as a metaphor for whole body awareness. Unfortunately they weren’t holding this particular retreat during this Thanksgiving weekend, but I felt that the Panca Mahabhuta offered a more rounded or whole-body experience, one that is designed to tune-in on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels allowing an organic healing process to naturally unfold. Upon suggestion that I look into attending this retreat, I happily obliged.
I arrived in Bali at 8:30pm on Wednesday, November 27th. And one thing that I did differently upon arrival than the first time I came to Bali was that I paid just a few bucks extra and jumped the immigration line. This was the most fabulous luxury I could have ever afforded. If I could do this every time I landed in a new country, I totally would. An airport employee met me at the gate and basically took all of my paperwork and my passport and escorted me through the airport and out to my driver. Took literally two seconds. It was incredible. I would totally do this again in a heartbeat.
My driver was dressed in traditional Balinese dress, wearing a sarong and udeng (head cloth). He pulled the car around, loaded my one piece of luggage, and then handed me a hand towel and the coldest water I have ever had to drink—in a glass bottle. He told me it would take close to 1.5 hours to get to fivelements. I was a bit groggy, but happy to be on holiday. So I was excited and didn’t mind the long jaunt (even though it was half of the plane trip I just took from Singapore: ha!).
We pulled up to fivelements around 10:15pm. The driver and a new person escorted me to my room where I laid my eyes on the most beautiful (and comfortable) bed ever, ever, ever. It was draped in mosquito nets and looked absolutely princess-y. I was in heaven. Heaven in the shape of a grass roof hut.
My room was one giant square and included a couch, a table and two chairs, my bed, and two wardrobes. The toilet, shower, and vanity were on the other side of two pocket doors. And they were essentially outdoors. Nothing but a very thin, beautiful curtain separated me and nature. And the shower itself was completely outside, surrounded by rocks and plants. It was gorgeous! The very next day I found a full snakeskin hanging on the rocks that had been freshly shed. My bathtub was outside two other pocket doors on the other side of the room. It was in a little room that was open on all sides out on a porch that over looked a roaring river. It was a glow-in-the-dark tub that I could change the colors of. So one day I had it glowing blue, another day red, another day purple, etc. All of the lights, inside and outside this entire grass roof hut (including the tub), were controlled by a Mediacom tablet that said Welcome Ms. Lindsey Bailey on the home screen. I could live here . . .
I finally went to bed and when I woke up, I got to see everything in the daylight. I wasn't sure it could get any better, but it did. I went off to breakfast, skipping down the path. The path being a series of large stepping stones guiding my way, complete with a narrow stone bridge over a little Koi-filled waterway. It was then that I realized I was staying in an adult-sized Smurf village. All of these grass roof huts clumped together . . . And I was almost entirely alone, except for the staff. So I could conceivably play like I was an actual Smurf and nobody would even notice.
Then came the food. Oh my goodness the food!! I had forgotten to read about the food, but knew that all of my meals were covered with my stay. It was all vegan and about 85% raw. Each meal consisted of a juice of my choice, an appetizer, a main course, and some sort of side dish. There was SO MUCH FOOD! And all of it was incredible and fresh and flavorful and plentiful. I always felt satiated. Three meals per day and four juices. And it was beautifully presented on top of being incredibly tasty. Absolute 5 star . . . All the way: top notch.
Since this retreat was considered a personal journey, I was assigned a guide to sort of direct me in my stay. His name was Janur (see above). He attended some of my “events” with me, but mainly he was there as a sounding board: someone who could talk to me about my experiences and how I felt after each treatment. While most of the programs I completed were included with my stay, I felt like they were definitely catered to my personal needs and what my intention for my retreat was. Janur put together my itinerary and did an excellent job.
My first experience was a welcoming ceremony led by a priest. Janur took a series of short videos of this event for me, which can be seen below. This ceremony was about the commitment that I was making to myself to enjoy and trust in the forthcoming weekend, what this retreat might hold for me . . . What changes might take place. The priest started the fire, but it was my job to feed the fire and keep it going; another metaphor symbolizing my inner fire. I fed the fire ghee, rice balls, and brown sugar. I was supposed to also feed the fire a coconut, symbolizing my ego. I was to have broken the coconut and feed the two halves to the fire. Sadly I received a bad coconut, which made me concerned that maybe I have a bad ego . . . Hmmmm. I pondered this for a while as I continued feeding the fire.
At the end of my welcoming ceremony, the priest gave me this bracelet to help me remember the commitment I made to myself: the red thread stands for the god Brahma (creation), the black thread stands for the god Vishnu (sustainability of life), and the white thread stands for the god Shiva (death).
After my welcoming ceremony, I ate lunch. And just look at my gorgeous lunch . . . The salad had cashew cheese on it. CASHEW CHEESE! It was so good! And live lasagna! LIVE! My favorite! I ended up meeting the chef and told him that I wanted him to come and live with me in Singapore.
Following lunch, I was taken to a healer. He balanced my chakras, scanning and clearing the aura of imbalances present in my body. Have you ever had a Reiki session? It feels sort of like that . . . He waved his hands all over my body, but never really touched me. He would chant and hold his hands over areas that might be active or needing alignment . . . He held his hands over my head for a long, long time. Um, a super-long time. (Yikes.)
After that, I was taken to a lady who gave me a fabulous massage and body scrub. Before my massage, she soaked and rubbed my feet. Each treatment began with this foot ritual. She would put salt, limes, and flowers in the water. And she would always say, “limes for energizing and flowers for harmonizing”. (I liked that.) For my body scrub, I chose a coffee and cinnamon concoction. It was intoxicating . . .
When I got back to my room, a bath was prepared for me (with salt, lime, flowers, the whole energizing and harmonizing nine yards). It was dark out, so I set up my computer and watched Elf as I soaked outside by the roaring river in my flower-filled, glow-in-the-dark tub.
After dinner I went to bed, at once exhausted and rejuvenated.
The next morning I began the day bright and early with 7:30am Yin yoga. It was just the instructor and I, in an enormous grass roof hut. She was excellent at getting me to isolate movements. It was amazing to me how she could pinpoint parts of my body that needed work and actually focused on those parts—parts I didn’t really even know I had . . . It’s always curious to me to do yoga outside of my normal routine of Bikram, but she provided me with a rigorous practice and ideas for how to continue this practice at home in Singapore.
After yoga, I had another fabulous meat-and-dairy-less meal. This time a tofu scramble, fruit and vegan yogurt, and a mixed fruit juice. Following this breakfast, I rode the shuttle into Ubud where I picked up a few Christmas gifts for family members. My next session wasn’t until 3pm, so I had some time on my hands. My hope was to work on some things that needed to get done—I had made a whole to-do list for Bali—but I wasn’t feeling it. My head wasn’t in the right space. I figured if I was going to do this retreat properly, then I would need to leave my Singapore/Baltimore life out of it. So aside from posting images on Instagram and FB, I pretty much did no more.
Lunch was incredible . . . Again: SO MUCH FOOD! And everything so healthy and full of amazing flavors and taste sensations!
My final experience for Friday was with Susan. Susan is a storyteller, puppeteer, and dansKinetics instructor. She is inspired through play, which I instantly connected to . . . She and I danced separately for an hour together. We talked about all sorts of things, and just let movement direct our bodies. It was really fun and invigorating. Something new that I had never really experienced before. What’s funny is that I think I have directed workshops like this, but have never been a participant in one. So it was a role reversal for me; which was exciting, nerve wrecking, and challenging. At the end of our session, she had me draw out what my experience was like, with color. I basically just drew out my dance patterns. What I held most precious about this experience was the connection I had with Susan and the conversations we shared.
After a quick evening dip in the pool, I scampered back to my hut, took a bubble bath, and went to bed.
More soon . . .