99 tips for a better world: find some time for healing (8 of 99)
I, however, was unable to enjoy it. It was 3am and I couldn’t sleep. I’d made it to Ubud but was still running on Melbourne time. Not just the three-hour time difference, but the brutally early mornings, the relentless brain activity, the familiar feeling that something wasn’t done, that someone was waiting for something I hadn’t delivered.
I usually strive (read: try with limited success) to maintain a balanced life, but the last month or so I was a poster child for the insanity of modern life. I rushed everywhere, said yes to everything I was asked and, to accommodate the busy schedule, said no to sleep and exercise.
I allowed myself to work and work and work with disregard for anything else because I knew a glorious relaxing week in Bali was on the horizon. How better, I thought, to reconnect with my long lost sweet inner life than lie in a hammock surrounded by lush tropical growth. It was also efficient! A year of stress and sleep deprivation would be erased by a week of relaxation…right?
At 3am I faced facts – you can’t shift from harried office worker to Zen master yogi just by hopping on a plane.
That night I wrote:
So I’m awake at 3am. My stomach has that low-level churning stressed feeling that doesn’t seem to go away anymore. I’m on my fourth night of holiday sleeping (no alarm!) so the pure exhaustion appears to have receded and now I am left to contend with the bruised and depleted self left over.
I was pretty fed up. I wanted to begin a revolution against modern living.
A revolution, however, seemed like something that should wait until after my holiday, so instead I decided to get proactive about my personal wellbeing and visit a Balinese healer.
This morning, fully equipped with traditional Balinese offerings, my travelling companions and I drove out to a village and into a grand but run down family compound. We were ushered onto a rattan mat by a leathery old man who looked somewhere between serene and uninterested.
The healer sat in a chair and I sat down in front, with my back to him. He poked and prodded my ears, head, face and neck and ran through a list: ‘Balance, OK; stomach, not bad – wait does that hurt? Yes, could be better; intelligence, OK; mind, oh dear; lymph nodes, not good.’
Then his mobile phone rang.
As he answered it, he instructed me to lie down on a dais. When he hung up he took a long wooden implement that looked like something you would use to fasten a bun in your hair and pressed the insides of my toes. He pressed the first couple of toes and when they didn’t hurt he said, ‘See, OK’ as if confirming his diagnosis. As he got to my third toe he pressed the wooden implement with what appeared to be a glint in his eye. The pain as he pressed was breathtaking. ‘See, problem!’
‘Your mind is a problem! Too much worry. You need to relax. You have stomach problems? This is why.’
My companions laughed and nodded as if to say, ‘It’s true! Her mind is a problem!’ I looked forward to them having a turn on the dais.
Once diagnosed, it was time for healing. Still lying down I put my arms beside my head, leaving myself open for the healer’s medicine. He took a small brush and ‘painted’ me with air in an elaborate pattern down the length of my torso. Then he brought my hands together against my heart as if to pray. ‘Now, pray to your God.’ He continued to run the brush over me and then declared, ‘OK, you’re fine now.’
I got up off the dais and sat back down with my group. I felt a strange tingling sensation in my stomach. The low-level churning had disappeared. I couldn’t stop smiling.
At 3am this tip was going to be: ‘reexamine the insanity of modern life’. But these 99 tips for a better world are supposed to be small, and there is nothing small (or very original) about that.
So instead, today’s tip is to find some time for healing. If you’re troubled, or worn out, or just have that sense that you could feel better, visit a healer of whichever variety you choose, or clear your schedule and go to bed early. Go for a walk, pick up the instrument you love to play, or put on some music while you make dinner.
As for me, I’m off to enjoy the rest of my holiday in a hammock surrounded by lush tropical growth. Low-level churning not included.