Reflections from Bali - The Importance of Getting Quiet and Still


I mentioned on an instagram post while I was in Bali, at one point in time in my life, “I lived to travel.” In the past, my deep-seated yearning to travel was two-fold, 1) I was not happy where I was and 2) I thought the answers to “fixing me” were “out-there”.

A few days before I left for Bali, I reached out to my friend Davis and I asked him for a book recommendation for my trip. He recommended Krista Tippett’s book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. Far from an easy, light-hearted read, Becoming Wise set the tone for my Bali journey.

I practically underlined half of the sentences in the book. At our final destination, the luxuriously, beautiful Suagra Pandang Pandang in Uluwatu, I could not put the book down. As we lounged by the pool, in 90F, I would lay under the sun with full body goosebumps -- the book was that moving.

A few days after I returned from Bali, I was nearing the end of the book at home. A passage from the Faith chapter summarized what I took away from my experience on my honeymoon…

Krista was sharing a portion of her interview with Pico Iyer -- I was not familiar with him before encountering his words. During a Becoming Wise interview with Krista, Iyer said:

“And at some point, I thought, well, I’ve been really lucky to see many, many places. Now, the great adventure is the inner world, now that I’ve spent a lot of time gathering emotions, impressions, and experiences. Now, I just want to sit still for years on end, really charting that inner landscape, because I think anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around -- you’re traveling in order to be moved. And really what you’re seeing is not just the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall but some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you’re sleepwalking through your daily life.” -pg.196

Then, on pg. 197, Iyer said:

“So I realized I have a lot movement in my life, but not maybe enough stillness.”

Wow. The night before reading that section, in my journal, I wrote:

“ message from Bali was very clear: nourishment starts at the roots.”

I really did love traveling to Bali with Alex for our honeymoon. However, I realized that before we left, I held out for that trip. I kept pushing myself and making myself uncomfortable (from taking on too much) because I knew a reprieve was coming. I was not taking care of myself in the moment, I allowed myself to suffer because I was holding out for Bali.

Prior to our departure, everyone told me I was going to have a magical, whimsical experience on the island and my time there was actually the opposite - it was humbling and grounding. On our third full day in Bali, we woke up at 2AM to trek up Mount Batur at sunrise. In the afternoon, we spent 4.5 hours receiving an Ayurvedic spa treatment at the Bali Botanica Spa. Halfway into my chakra massage, it hit me with such clarity, this is not going to “heal” me. And, by “this”, I was referring to all of the external practices that I seek out in an attempt to remedy or shift my internal energy.

Before I move on, it’s important to note that I think the external practices are a wonderful compliment to my personal, internal self-care practices. Nevertheless, the massages, the travels, the acupuncture, the yoga classes, the self-help books, the breathwork, the meetings with life-coaches, the reiki healing sessions, and the tea with face-masks on are not going to be the things that enable me to live life spiritually aligned, healthy, and vibrating the highest.

Furthermore, it’s also important to note that - an inner-world that is spiritually aligned, emotionally/physically/mentally healthy, with pure vibrations - is what I have been seeking all along. And, I have been putting so much energy into creating the internal landscape I desire by pursuing external practices. In Bali, what I’ve always known became crystal clear, the true transformation my Soul craves is going to come from the simple practice of nourishing my roots -- which I believe comes from surrendering to the practice of getting very quiet and still.

For the last few years, I have had a rather consistent meditation practice - being still and getting quiet is not a new practice in my life. Yet, my meditation practice has been more or less a box I’ve checked off because, you know, everybody’s doing it. Jokes aside, meditation has been incredibly important to me and the practice has created profound shifts in my day-to-day. Nevertheless, I’ve more or less viewed my meditation practice as something I needed to “get done” so I could move on to the other practices - the more glamorous, instantly feel good things.

The day I returned home from Bali, the last question I ask my guests on the Move Into Truth Podcast occurred: I began to not only know but live and embody the fact that meditation - stillness + quietness - is my best medicine.  

And, I must say, the embodiment of that knowledge has not all of a sudden made the practice any easier for me. However, I realized that my approach to the practice needed to change.

The day I returned, I talked with my friend Nina Petruzzo on the phone for a couple of hours. She helped me unpack what I had come to learn. As we spoke, I told her that I am all about morning rituals, but I can’t force myself to have the exact same ritual everyday anymore. I told her that I planned to wake up and intuitively practice what I need on that day.

If you’ve met me in person, you know that discipline is not a quality I lack - so, I decided, for me, it needs to be less about the what time I meditate at each day and more about the heartspace I hold when I enter the practice.

To rewind, for a long time, I went to my cushion in the morning, right after I woke up, because I thought “that is what I was supposed to do.” Yet, when I wake up in the morning, sometimes I need to do this very thing - write. Some mornings, I wake up and my brain is on fire and I have all of these thoughts and ideas that want to come out. Other mornings, I wake up foggy and a movement practice or reading a good book serves me best.

What I learned to embody, versus simply know, in Bali, is that it’s important for me to have a morning practice -- I am committed to pausing in the morning before I jump into the lifey stuff. Whether that pause be consciously cuddling with Mowgli and/or Alex or writing a gratitude list or taking deep breaths, it’s important I put space between sleep and emails and my phone - and by space, I mean at least 30 or so minutes. Therefore, I am committed to making meditation a non-negotiable part of my day (every single day) and practice my stillness and quietness at the time that intuitively feels right on that day - in the last seven days, I have meditated in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. It’s working.  

Through my travels and my reflections at home, I have come to learn that it’s okay if what I need each morning looks a little bit different every day. And, one thing I’ve learned about truth this year, is that truth is always changing. On Episode 08 of the Move Into Truth podcast with Charlotte, I said, “...the truth is always going to change.” I do believe in fundamental, never-changing truths -  like love, forgiveness, compassion, and kindness. Aside from those, what is true for me today will change as I change. So, I need to meet myself where I am now and be open to going in a new direction when it’s needed and appropriate.

I share all of this to encourage anyone interested in creating a quietness and/or stillness practice (meditation) to create one that works. And, instead of looking at it as a chore or something that needs to be done, remember that it’s not just something else you’re doing, it’s what you’re doing that enables you to do everything else with a greater sense of peace and wellness - at least, that is my experience.

For me, the true Soul work happens within - not out there. Bali was fun but it didn’t make me a brand new person. My relationship to and with travel has shifted - I used to view it as this important thing that was going to “change me” - and, I often felt as if it did. Now, it’s just a time for me to unplug from the drudge of the day-to-day and experience a new culture.

For me, the real exploration, the real journey, starts when I close my eyes and get quiet and still.

And, I want to conclude by sharing a funny story… A few days after I returned, life got real “lifey” and I was having a hard time with a life-situation. So, I went to the Self Realization Meditation Gardens - a place where I feel at peace - to meditate. For about ten minutes, I was sitting upright in this super-erect-serious-meditation posture and my back and neck were really bothering me because I haven’t slept the best since I have been home. I had this thought to move and get comfortable.

I stood up from my super-serious-meditation-seat and walked to this private, little corner. I supported my back against a wall and curled up into what I referred to as a “seated fetal pose”. I bent my legs, tucked myself into a small ball, and rested my forehead on my knees as a hugged my shins with my arms. I rested in that quiet stillness for at least 10 minutes and I was able to destress and reach a level of calm I had not experienced since laying by the pool, overlooking the Indian Ocean, in Uluwatu.

I know there are some styles of meditation that really value the super-serious-erect-seat; but, that’s not what I needed to reach the place of peace that was going to enable me to live life spiritually aligned, healthy, and vibrating the highest on Sunday. Sometimes, even if it’s tucked in a seated fetal pose, all that is necessary for me to truly evolve is to get still and quiet.

To conclude, Bali was fun - we scooted around, we made out a lot, we ate amazing food, we swam and surfed in the warm ocean. But, I’ll say it again, the real exploration, the real journey, starts when I close my eyes and get quiet and still.

Please, I invite you to join me in the exploration of the expansive terrain that lies within.