I was feeling emotional, drained of energy and angry.
I practiced my yoga each day, feeling myself improving and benefiting, then all of a sudden circumstances had robbed me of my progress. I was really angry!
If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know I suffered a sciatic nerve injury from an accident on the beaches of my homeland. The pain was extremely restrictive and my teachers prescribed minimal activity and time. I was frustrated about having to adjust my life and yoga practice to suit the pain I was experiencing. I relied on my practice greatly, to help me get through my days. I soon found myself slipping into a black hole of anxiety and frustration.
As we arrived on the island of Bali, I was still exhausted and finding it hard to shift the weight of these frustrations. I needed to connect to the spirit of the land here and let go of the anger. I felt unaligned, unbalanced.
We’d only been there one day, when I insisted we go find a temple so I could sit quietly and connect with my breath.
The island of the gods answered me with Pura Tirta Empul – “The Temple of the Holy Spring”.
Commissioned over 1000 years ago by King Chandra Bhayasingha of the Warmadewa Dynasty, Pura Tirta Empul sits atop a natural spring believed by the Balinese to have been created by the god Indra during an epic battle with the tyrant Mayadenawa.
As we wrapped ourselves in local sarongs and sashes I felt a calm vibe wash over me and I began to smile. This place just felt so peaceful. We stood leaning over the tall volcanic rock walls and gazed in awe at the holy spring its self. Its water gently bubbling up out of the ground, cleaned and purified through layers of limestones.
Water this clean in a country known for its terrible pollution must be holy!
In the background, inside the ceremony temple, we could hear the ring of a single bell and it reminded me to be mindful. There was something so tranquil about watching the starlings fly quickly around the turquoise spring.
The most peaceful place I have seen.
My breathing slowed down to a pleasant pace as we walked around to the fountains. We changed into water sarongs and my little yogis 10 and 11 jumped straight into the sacred water pools where the water ceremonies take place. As they swam and dove with tiny fish, I took joy in watching how they found such simple fun in a place steeped in such culture and tradition.
My partner introduced me to a temple keeper who helped us read the carved words engraved into a large stone at the entrance of the fountains. He explained the temples history and the details of the traditional hindu water ceremony. A practise observed by many of the local people, who regularly visit to set their intentions, restore their Karma and align their chakras. I was intrigued. He offered to teach us the tradition and handed us an offering. A beautiful banana leaf box hand, full of pretty flower petals and incense. Seemingly full, but with plenty of space for good intentions.
As we sat down on the step to connect with our breath, we were asked to make a wish or a prayer. We held onto our wish and intentions as we entered the freezing holy water. It came up to my chest and I held my little one’s hand as she swam and followed me with every step.
We rested our offerings on top of the first fountain and began the steps of the ritual. Together with my little one, we chanted three oms, then in the course of several steps, washed ourselves under the cold, beating water of the fountain. Holding my intentions and keeping focus was one of the most complete acts of mindfulness I’ve ever experienced.
And there were nine in total.
The first two fountains were to clean our Karmic energy. The other seven represented the chakras.
As we followed this sequence, I could feel the layers of my sadness, anger and conditioning peel away. By the time it came to leaving the pools I walked out drenched and freezing, but light as a feather, balanced and aligned.
I knew that what had happened here this day will be etched in my mind forever.
And now that I am back home, living my life with rush and chores, I use what I have learnt from this holy place and it has become my daily ritual here in my home, with my family.
I awake and set my intentions.
I make a wish or a prayer.
I offer my love and my whole heartedness.
I chant three oms.
And I remind myself of the cleansing water.
I sometimes use my new, less yoga practice as my cleanse and my realignment but sometimes I even use the water from my bath or shower as a representation of the purifying.
Change is inevitable. Life would be pretty boring without it. Although some change can be unwelcome and inconvenient, seemingly sent try our patience or even push us to our emotional limits, it always carries with it a firm lesson that can really help us to grow. You just have to be calm and focused enough to receive it. And with enough focus and clarity, you might just find that what seemed at first like an obstacle on the path to your goal, could become the very thing you needed to drive you on.
You don’t need Indra’s holy fountain of immortality to make a water ceremony a part of your day to day. Bring the peace and calm into your homes and hearts. Focus on the things you love and fill your days with mindfulness.