Bali is where I go to rejuvenate. The place where my spiritual practice deepens while I’m surrounded by beloved teachers and fellow practitioners who are devoted to living authentically, in alignment with nature, and being of service to others.
Ubud, a small town in Bali, is the yogi’s paradise. Organic juice delivered to your doorstep for a fraction of the US price. Every cuisine imaginable, including the most delicious vegan food you’ve ever tasted. Yoga and dance classes, spiritual gatherings, retreats of all kinds, a healer on every corner — not to mention $10/hr massages.
Add in luscious jungle, rice fields, temples, waterfalls and pristine beaches … and yes, it’s pretty much paradise. However, if you end the list there you’ll miss two of the most precious things about Bali: the people and the magic.
On this, my third trip to Bali, I held the intention to connect deeper to people and the magic of people. Most world travelers will agree that while there might be more beautiful places on Earth, there are no people on Earth quite as loving and loyal as the Balinese.
For context, understand that Bali is one island in a sea of 18,307 Islands that make up the country of Indonesia. Bali is the only one of those islands that is inhabited by Hindu people, the rest are Muslim. The way that Hinduism weaves with Bali’s native animistic culture creates a palpable field of loving devotion to nature and spirit. The Balinese are extraordinarily devout and helpful. It is not uncommon that your favorite taxi driver and massage therapist will become a part of your soul family forever. (I love you, Wayan & Martini!)
The other people in Bali that are quite notable are the expatriates from all over the world who have made this their home for 20 years or more. They were here long before Wi-Fi and hippie food became ubiquitous. In fact two of the most powerful women I’ve ever met in life, Umaa and Shankari, happen to fall into this camp — they’ve both lived in Bali for over 20 years. There is a certain fearlessness and creativity that is palpable in people with this kind of life experience, and I’ve learned so much from them. Most importantly, I’ve learned about Bali magic.
The magic of Bali reaches in all directions, but to experience it in its fullest, you must trust the flow of the adventure, the guidance of strangers, the spontaneous connections and excursions.
My dear friends, Roxy and Daniel, were visiting from California; Daniel’s mother told them to go visit a friend of hers, a woman that makes extraordinary jewelry. Her name is Shankari the Alchemist. Apparently, she’s quite well-known, but I had never heard of her. All I knew was that I was a huge hell yes to meeting her and traveling to a part of Bali I had never seen before. I had no idea the magic that was about to unfold.
The first thing I noticed when stepping onto Shankari’s resort property was a lovely sign that listed both a Sri Yantra pool and a Kundalini pool. For a classical Tantra geek such as myself, this was pretty exciting. These are two potent symbols that I’m quite fond of. The Sri Yantra is a matrix of upward and downward facing triangles, symbolizing the creation of the universe, the merging of masculine and feminine energy and the divine Goddess Lalita, my namesake. The kundalini snake represents our life force, sexual energy and awakening. The retreat center is a work of art. It’s like stepping into sacred geometry. Covered in detailed mosaic and symbology, I could almost feel the whole place vibrating.
The magic only intensified as I got to meet Shankari, tour her artistic palace and try on her exquisite jewelry. As Roxy and I listened intently to her life story, we sat on a beautifully tiled rooftop deck overlooking the sea. We were both in awe of what she had accomplished. She had traveled the world, birthed children of several nationalities, married and divorced a Prince, and by sheer force of passion created an artistic empire on a scope and scale I had never encountered before.
As I swam in the Sri Yantra pool the next morning, I couldn’t help but think Shankari was designing and building this pool when I was still in high school! In more discussion with her, I learned how deep her love of art, design and Goddess empowerment ran. Her knowledge of history and world culture was vast, her mind quick, her enormous heart overflowing with child-like glee. I admired how gracefully she empowered Roxy to step into feeling confident wearing a larger piece of jewelry than she was accustomed to. She explained that these pieces were medicine. That she often encouraged women only to wear them in private, just so they could feel their own power. Roxy and I left on a mission to share Shankari’s art with the world. (If you are interested in viewing or purchasing any, please contact Roxy.)
In Bali, magic is around every corner. And really, magic is everywhere, it’s just about surrendering to the flow and welcoming the spontaneous adventures and connections that make life so utterly unique and unpredictable.