Yesterday, we ended the first leg of our 15-day tour of Bali. We moved from Candidasa to Ubud, and travel/transition days are always stressful. We were leaving our idyllic beachside resort behind. I’d warned people in our orientation on Day #1 that people often get cranky during transition days. I see it on every trip, but this time, the fact that our hotel had been flooded and there was now sickness in our group was exacerbating the stress. So, despite the fact that we were in beautiful Bali, tempers were fraying, people were on edge, and as the group leader, I was struggling to keep the group positive and cohesive. Last night, my shoulders were up around my ears, and I wasn’t sure I could turn things around. My inner resources, which I consider formidable, were not firing.

Yet the buck stops with me. I’m the leader of the trip. I was at a loss.

Late last night, after fretting and getting nowhere, I took half an Ativan and went to bed. I needed a good night’s sleep more than anything else.

And then today was a perfect day. It began with a purification ceremony in the healing waters at the temple of Pura Mengening in Tampaksiring, followed by a visit to the most sacred part of the temple for blessing. We’d been instructed to wear bathing suits as well as our sarongs and temple scarves, and once we got to the temple, we exchanged those sarongs for orange ones we rented for 10,000 rupiah, or about 60 cents. Those were the ones we were to wear in the water. They handed us a locker key, and we shoved our belongings inside and followed Surya.

He instructed us how to make our way through three fountains in two different pools, designed for purification. We were to splash the water three times over our crown chakra at the top of our head, three times on our faces, three times on our bodies. And if wanted to, we could fully immerse our heads under the robust spouts of fresh holy spring water.

If there was ever a day I needed blessings, this was it.

I followed the group single file through the pools, and under each spout I prayed, “Help!” And “Give me humor, lightness, and compassion.” “Give me clarity and an open heart.” But mostly just, “Help!”

I held my head under those spouts with a passionate desire for the gift of whatever I needed and for the group members who were struggling to get the same. And the transformation came. It’s amazing how moods and mind states can change so quickly—mine and everyone else’s.

After receiving our blessings from Surya, a flower behind our ears, and rice on our foreheads, everyone looked radiant going back up the hill toward the parking lot. And the afternoon, visiting healers—and watching each other’s treatments—was such intimate sharing that the group became a group again.

I could trust my instincts again because my lizard brain was no longer in overdrive. Best of all I could laugh again.

Tomorrow, writing group meets again. The prompt I gave them to work on: “Who or what is knocking on your door?”

Here are some pictures from the purification ceremony. Photographs by Kimberly Hampton Nilsson, Nancy Gertz, Made Surya, and Susan Cooley.

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