Being here at the Embracing Health Retreat in beautiful, magical, Ubud has brought to the forefront of my mind just what it takes to really heal. Really truly heal. Mind. Body. Soul. Let me explain…
The nutritionist in me understands that without a solid, healthy food foundation, it is very difficult to over come any kind of health problem. In fact I’d say it is neigh impossible. The naturopath in me knows that often it will take MORE than just healthy food and a clean, balanced diet to heal many illnesses and disorders we see on a regular basis. And the student in me has come to recognise some of the other, more ‘alternative’ ways of creating a beautiful healing process in the human body may be just as vital as these first two components. And I say ‘alternative’ loosely. Naturopathy is still considered ‘alternative’ medicine. So in this case, I guess I mean more way-out-there, ‘trippy-hippy’, spiritually based healing that you don’t always find listed in the Yellow Pages.
One of the wonderful things about Ubud, is that it has become a bit of a spiritual centre for many of these alternative practitioners. In Balinese culture, spirituality and spiritual healing is not considered trippy-hippy, but a vital part of the maintenance of every day health. Ubud, up in the mountains and lush tropical jungle, has drawn to it spiritual healers from around the world, many of them from Western countries, who have travelled here for one reason or another and decided to stay. Holding the Embracing Health Detox Retreats here allows us to tap into this rich vein of spirituality, and share these masterful practitioners with our groups. What I have observed after some of these sessions is truly incredible.
The modalities we use on our Detox Retreats are Transformational Breathing (sometimes known as Breathwork or Rebirthing), Sound Healing, Traditional Balinese Blessings and Agni Hotra Ceremonies. I would like to share a little about each of these modalities so you will gain a better understanding about the true power of some of this work.
Transformational breathing is a practice where participants usually lay in a circle with their eyes closed and breathe from the belly. Sounds pretty simple hey? No big mystery…. But that is the mystery in itself! Things HAPPEN!!!!! Emotions are released, trauma and wounds are let go, and transformations occur. Depending on the practitioner, you may be asked to breathe in a certain way, or perhaps just deeply and regularly. I have seen transformations occur with both of these styles, and I am sure there are many different styles out there. The two styles I have witnessed are both assisted, with the practitioner and helpers walking around the group and giving support where necessary.
I have seen people cry, scream, sob, laugh, snore, sleep and fidget their way through these sessions. I have spoken with those who felt it was life changing, those who have felt it bought them back to their true selves, and those who thought it was merely a nice bit of relaxation time. But my goodness, when people transform, they really transform! I have seen people look totally different after sessions. So much so that I would have loved to have taken before and after pictures! These beautiful breathing sessions are amazing to help the body relax and de-stress. Smokers have reported feeling able to breathe more deeply and singers, the same. Whether this sounds like your cup of tea or not, it most definitely has a place in the natural realm of healing.
Sound Healing is a beautiful practice. I would say about half of our retreat participants find it more helpful than the Transformational Breathing. Like I mentioned before, what resonates with one person, may not resonate with the next, so by offering a multitude of modalities, we try to encourage that healing on as many levels as possible.
Sound healing may use beautiful crystal bowls, musical instruments, singing, chanting, and so much more! The healer who conducted the session a few nights ago brought in over 60 different instruments and a Balinese priest in training to take us on a meditative journey to who knows where! It can be deeply relaxing, rejuvenating and for some, even life changing. The sounds resonate at such a level that vibrations move through the body in beautiful healing waves. If you have problems sleeping I would highly recommend getting a CD of Crystal Bowl Healing (my preference if the Chakra Healing) to listen to as you fall asleep. They can be very good for people who have difficulty relaxing or meditating as well.
Traditional Balinese Blessings and the Agni Hotra Ceremony are two modalities that we are privileged to have access to in beautiful Bali. I don’t believe it matters if you are a religious person or not, the beauty and healing energy created during these ceremonies seems to touch everyone who attends. During an Agni Hotra ceremony, certain rituals are carries out by the participants and the attending priests. Originating from the ancient Hindu scriptures, agni refers to fire and hotra to healing. Priests and participants make offerings into the fire while Sanskrit chanting of mantras invokes blessings of health and abundance. Chanting helps to create that beautiful healing vibrational energy, offerings are given up into the fire, and coconuts are broken and given to the fire as a representation of the destruction of ego. Then a priest will usually bless each individual and present them with various offerings to take away from the ceremony.
As I mentioned above, it doesn’t seem to matter what religion you come from, or what your beliefs may be. Even if you attend in pure interests sake, it is hard not to get swept up and carried away by the calm, healing energy that is created from these ceremonies.
And I guess, what has really come home for me on this trip, is that just as Leisa writes, “Healing in a journey, not a raw food diet”. Natural medicine without the emotional and spiritual components can become quite mechanistic. Sometimes people need to heal on a deeper level, as well as fixing the physical. And my goodness, it is such a pleasure to watch!
If you are currently in the midst of your own healing journey, and you have only addressed the physical side of things, I would suggest looking deeper at some of the spiritual and emotional healing pathways out there. The few I have mentioned here are only the tip of the iceberg. Find what suits you, what feels right for where you are right now, and please, open your heart to the ‘trippy-hippy’. It might just change your life.