Bhakti is woven deeply through the island of Bali. As you may know, Bhakti is a yogic path that will eventually lead to self realization through devotion. Although there are many wonderful places on this planet, the obvious choice for leading my first retreat was Bali.
Bhakti is the yoga of heart, of loving some one other than self so deeply we lose sense of self and come back to oneness. While strolling down the streets of Ubud, I was careful of my stride. There are offerings made of palms leaves, flowers, rice and incense abounding in front of door ways, statues, temples and parks. There are so many offerings that one needs to watch their step! These bountiful and beautiful visual reminders to offer are humbling to say the least.
How this plays out in a cultural aspect is through connected joy. When one chooses to devote, we open our hearts to joy. Each action in our daily lives can become an offering if we so choose. Every step, smile, song, dance, breath can become an offering. When we are in a space of offering, we are in the present moment. We become aware of exactly what we are doing, right here, right now. If we are in the present moment, we are not in the story of the past or the future. In presence there is power and joy. In presence there is transformation. In presence there is love.
One of the most common aspects of Bhakti is chanting. Repeating sacred mantras over and over through toned vocal expression leads to freedom of thoughts. We focus on the mantra and the tone and NOT the story. Think of it as a sound healing you are creating with your vocal cords. The vibration moves through our body and energetic field in sacred geometrical wave patterns causing harmony through out our being. This is not just woo woo, its science y’all.
Chanting sacred mantra and calling in the archetypes of Hindu culture was empowering in this land where they are very much revered. The three major forces that showed up in full force on my journey through Bali were Shiva, Ganesha, and Garuda. Shiva with his long locks of hair and ring of fire, brought me strength and ferocity to hold the space for my guests. Ganesha with his mighty yet gentle elephant presence, cleared the path so that we had a smooth journey together. Garuda with his mighty wings that can stop time, guarded the space so negative energies could not enter. If these archetypes are foreign to you, think of them as energies that exist with in you. These are all aspects of self we ignite with invocation.
The veil is thin between worlds and dimensions in Bali. In all of my travels, I have never experienced a place quite like it. Things that are not normally seen or felt are palpable here. I believe it is the constant acknowledgement of the unseen spirit that allows for this.
I hope this inspires you to devote, maybe starting with one a breath a day and increasing until more of your life becomes an offering. Offer to your family, your friends, your enemies, those that are suffering, those without a voice, those in all forms. In our hearts we know we are all one. When we send it out, it comes back ten fold.
Cultivate from a space of love and offer it all away. Jai Bhakti!