7 Things I Learned from Magical Ubud, Bali

After returning from Bali and a 3 week escape from the hectic life of a marketing professional in the United States, I felt a longing to return to the peace, quiet, and serenity of Ubud.

So without the time or resources to book a return flight to Bali, what follows is an attempt to capture everything I learned into a nifty, packaged little blog post.

The first thing I learned is that when traveling from the US to Southeast Asia is that it’s going to take a very long time to get there - for me it was over 30 hours of travel and on top of that you lose a day. So when you arrive in Bali, you’re going to be exhausted. Expect to do nothing except rest and sleep for the first week of your adventure. For me it was much needed and enjoyed.

My first week there I took the time to eat mindfully, sit in stillness, meditate, sightsee a little - which included a 600 year old Hindu temple built into a cave that over looks the Indian Ocean and beach. I was truly in awe and inspired by the majestic temples.

Next in my journey was a 2 hour taxi from West Bali, near Negara, to Ubud, where Eat Pray Love was filmed. I fell in love instantly with this quirky clash of cultures where East meets West, Hindu meets Buddhism, monkeys meet elephants, and the jungle seamlessly integrates with a bustling village.

I spent most of my time at The Yoga Barn, an incredible place if you’re into yoga and meditation, like yummy vegan and vegetarian food, or just want to get an amazing massage for less than $20 USD. While at the Yoga Barn, I finished reading The Untethered Soul (a book I highly recommend) and got through 3/4 of The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. Both of these combined with about 2 hours of meditation each day really helped me expand my awareness and become much more present.

A few revelations and reflections from this brief period of bliss:

1) This Universe has been here for billions of years and us humans are lucky enough to live and participate in a fraction of it on Earth. Which this in mind, shouldn’t we spend our time being happy and doing what we love? After all life is pretty short if you consider the magnitude of what I just mentioned.

2) Everything is unfolding and evolving in perfect time, in perfect harmony, just as it is supposed to. Your job and goal is to recognize this and go with the flow. Accept what is and stop trying to resist. Surrender and say yes. It’s much easier than trying to control everything, especially since most of what happens is completely out of our control.

3) The Universe has a plan for you. And it has your back. Once you open yourself to it and listen, things will stop being so difficult.

4) Thinking about the past creates unhappiness, attachment, clinging, worry and judgement. And thinking about the future creates stress, anxiety, the need to control outcomes, and fear. But the present moment contains love, joy, calm, peace, silence, and stillness. Your goal is to remain present in every moment of everyday. And when you recognize you’re not present, simply let go of whatever thoughts you’re having and come back to present.

5) The present moment is full of feelings, the breath, and body sensations. If you can feel your body, that’s a good sign.  Be present. Be aware. Be here.

6) Meditation, yoga, reading, exercise, listening to music, and being in nature are all helpful tools to remain present.

7) Other tools to help with calm and relaxation include burning incense, essential oils, healing crystals, stones for grounding, massages, mala beads and necklaces, tarot cards, statues of deities like Ganesha, Buddha, Tara, and Shiva.

My Morning Meditation Routine

I wake up each morning with a challenge called "First breath." The goal is in the first split second when you wake up, try to determine if you are breathing in or breathing out. 

Waking up each morning by setting your focus on your breath is a powerful way to start the day. Note that it doesn't matter if your first breath in an inhale or an exhale. The importance is just in noticing the breath.

Next, I move into controlled breathing exercises. Typically this will be a 4-part box breath, where you inhale counting slowly to four. Then hold your breath for four. Then exhale for four. Repeat this for about 10 minutes. (Note: the exact version of this I do takes me to an inhale count of 10, hold for 10, exhale for 10. It takes practice to get there.)

Then I move into Wim Hof breathing for the next 10 minutes or so. 

That's it. 15-20 minutes in the morning for an entire day of benefits. Seems like a fair trade to me. What do you think?

I'd like to hear your comments, or questions. I'd also like to hear your morning routine. 


Buddha Teachings: The Second Arrow



The Buddha once told a story to illustrate a teaching.

In this parable, Buddha asks, "If you get struck by an arrow, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself?"

In other words...

If at some point during your day someone upsets you, that's an arrow that is shot into you. But it's at this exact moment in time that you have an opportunity to pause, reflect, and make a choice.

Ask yourself this... "Do I want to shoot myself with another arrow?"

How you react once you're upset, stressed, or irritated is entirely up to you. So you can shoot yourself again with another arrow, get yourself even more worked up and annoyed, or you can breathe. You can pause. You can choose to react calmly and mindfully. 

By doing this you are teaching yourself, your mind and body to respond with mindfulness, not react to the situation.

It takes work and discipline. But with practice, you can control your responses to the outside world and in doing so control your inner world.

Essentially during your meditation practice, this is what you are working on. A thought comes in. You recognize it for what it is. A thought. It is not real, it is just simply a thought. And you can choose to let it go. Direct your attention back to your breathing. Or you can choose to get caught up in the thoughts and go down the rabbit hole into a lack of control.

Eventually with practice, just like with meditation, you can master your mind and how you react to the world around you.

Namaste and thank you for reading.