Life Lesson of the Trip

After two weeks in Indonesia, I made these generalizations about Indonesian people: they are very open and very talkative! From Nur, our fabulous Borobudur guide, to Toto, the market security guard who showed us around Pasar Beringharjo in Yogyakarta, and Wayan, our waiter on Lombok, Casey and I learned an immense amount about Javanese, Balinese, and Lombok lives, history, art, and culture.

Another individual who really opened our eyes to Javanese culture was Ari, a wayang artist we met outside the Sultan’s palace in Yogyakarta. Ari spoke to us for at least an hour about all of the meaning behind each and every tiny detail on wayang shadow puppets. The big themes that I recall are harmony between masculine and feminine, the four elements, and virtues like love and loyalty. At the end of his explanation, Ari asked us if we meditated. It just so happens that we had come directly from a very slow, meditative yin yoga class. He went on to describe our personalities quite accurately, based on his intuition. It was really quite a powerful experience.

Ari and an unpainted wayang

Ari and an unpainted wayang


Similarly, the healer who accompanied us on a spiritual tour in central and south Java read me like a book after performing some acupressure on me. He prescribed for me more water, more fruits and vegetables, and more regular meditation. He compared me to a tree that is trying to grow too high and is now blowing dangerously in the wind. (I am one to bite off more than I can chew!)

While I’m an agnostic skeptic when it comes to spirituality, I am very open to the idea that a sort of sixth sense can develop in people. Casey and I noticed that the Javanese people that we spent time with are very in tune with nature and humans’ connections to nature and to each other. I felt at times that I needed to take some things with a grain of salt, but overall it felt great to be completely open to these ancient ideas. It’s a theme in my life these days to get back to nature, and spirituality is apparently no different: organic food, Eastern medicine, and pre-Judeo-Christian intuition. [I’m a little rusty, but I think this could fall under the idea of postmodernism (I miss grad school…)!]

And finally, the yoga teachers whom we practiced with in Ubud (at Radiantly Alive) and Yogya (at Via Via) inspired me to think more seriously about practicing yoga at home on a more regular basis and practicing for its intended purpose: seated meditation.

I felt like on a daily basis there was something going on that made me think to myself: I need to meditate regularly. So, by the time Casey and I were in Kuta, I started meditating each night for 10-15 minutes. Now that I’m back in Bangkok and have some lovely time on my hands, I’m meditating daily and rereading a book by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana called Mindfulness in Plain English. I’d read it before, but I think I read it at a time when I wasn’t really ready to start a meditation practice. It’s funny how if we pay close enough attention, life will guide us to what we need — even if it needs to repeat itself!

I am thankful for every instance in Indonesia that pointed me in the direction of practicing mindfulness and regular meditation. My two weeks away also gave me lots of time to think. I’ve decided to pursue my yoga teacher certification after moving to Vancouver. I am also thinking of going to graduate school to become a school psychologist (one who will of course incorporate mindfulness into her work!). I’m excited for the future, and I think that’s OK, but I’m learning to respect and appreciate this: the present moment.


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