Retreats

And It’s a Wrap

In our final writing class session, I read this quote from Joseph Campbell: “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” Then I asked everyone to think about something they wanted to let go of and one thing they wanted to integrate from Balinese

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From One Lake to Another

Our final hike on this Bali trip was between two volcanic lakes in West Bali. Four of us went on the hike, along with the two wonderful guides who’ve been with us all week: Ketut and Putu. Other members of our group stayed back at the hotel to write, relax, hike back to the waterfall,

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Coffee, Cacao, & Cloves

Munduk, the site of our third stop in Bali, is well-known for its many trekking and hiking options. And when I bring a group here, hikes are always a priority on the agenda. Yesterday, we went on a long meandering hike through local coffee plantations, neighborhoods and rice fields. Once again, we were guided by

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The Demon Museum

The Balinese New Year’s Day, Nyepi, occurs in March or April of each year. Three days before Nyepi, all the villages take all the ceremonial objects they own and carry them to the beach in a procession to be purified by water—including Barong and Durga masks because they have living spirits in them. The next

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Monkeys!

On my first writer’s retreat in Bali, 12 years ago, I brought along by wife Karyn, who taught yoga in the mornings, and our 15-year-old daughter, Eliza. One of my fondest memories of that trip was Eliza’s excitement about all the cute monkeys in the Ubud monkey forest. I still have a whole bunch of

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What I Learned About Sacred Masks

Today, we got to visit the expansive home and studio of our guide Surya’s mask carving teacher, Cok Raka Tisnu, vice-chair emeritus of the music and dance department at Udayana University in Denpasar. His family’s royal compound, which houses several generations of his family, stretches for an entire city block in the village of Singapadu.

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Offerings Are Everywhere

One of the first things a visitor to Bali notices, after the tropical air, the hundreds of roaring, beeping motorbikes carrying entire families, and the incessant, wild flow of traffic, are the offerings you see everywhere. These small square flat green boxes, 3-4 inches wide, start with a base of young coconut or palm leaves,

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How to Make Room for Wildness

In the early days of writing class for group #2, one of the prompts I gave my students was, “Write a set of directions for how to bring more wildness into your life.” This was my response. What would yours be? Stop listening to the news. Stop looking at your list. Better yet, burn your

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Putu’s Impossible Dream

Today we left our beautiful, peaceful resort on the shores of the Indian Ocean and drove to Ubud for the middle section of our trip, which focuses on seeing local healers, experiencing traditional purification rituals, and learning more about Balinese spirituality. On our way, we stopped for lunch at Senang Hati, the only center in

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A Society Steeped in the Sacred

One of the things I love and admire about the Balinese is how they’ve maintained strong family and cultural ties despite the tourism that is so much a core part of their economy. Family ties are incredibly strong in Bali and each village is organized in a banjar, where the whole community provides mutual support

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