05 December 2013

Bali: Panca Mahabhuta Retreat, Days 3 and 4 . . .

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! 

Happy day!

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