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  • Impressions of Bali (September 2008)

    Walking along a narrow path – on one side drying cloves, the odd pineapple, cocoa and banana palms. On the left young men high in trees picking cloves. We are in the north of Bali, day 6 of a Mindful Conflict Resolution training week. At this stage we are more than comfortable with each other, there is a sense of lightness, joy and friendship in the air. Our meandering is full of laughing, singing and intimate conversations about life, expectations and choices made. In the distance the ocean and the volcanos of Java.

    Our guide is a young man with a wise, gentle smiley face. He is walking in front of me as he turns and says: ‘I am enjoying your friendships.’ – I am enjoying your friendships. Obviously no thought of: ‘why don’t I have friendships or experiences like this?’ No thought of: ‘They are already so privileged and then they come here, can buy everything, and I have to spend the day showing them around.’ No thought of ‘Why can’t I be like that?’

    Rather he was enjoying the connectedness and joys of others, without putting himself into the picture. This was mindfulness in action, in Being.

    Later a psychologist working in mental health commented that most of her clients suffer from depression. The guide was astonished asking: ‘you have depressed people? – but you have everything!

    We may have to redefine everything if this is where it leads us.

    The Zen Resort where we stayed had no internet connection, no phones and only occasionally mobile connection. The days started with meditations on a platform overlooking forest, mountains and the ocean. Buddhist monks had once proclaimed the area as a particularly good energy spot – and it was tangible.

    Meditation was followed by yoga, and time spent learning about Mindfulness. We shared our meals, talking about our lives, dreams and passions and we sang. It felt like the soul was being fed and smiling became the natural expression.

    Going to the commercial centres of Kuta and Semiyak was a contrast in the extreme. It felt like a stark assault on the senses, a complete disregard for nature, the earthy one and our own.

    It feels as if something has been replenished, there is a fullness, richness and joy to draw from, a sense of calm, good and realness underlying life. This means taking a bit more notice, allowing a bit more space and time for others – and much money has been spent on buying flowers!

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