Bali is one of the 18,000 islands located in Indonesia, and it’s truly one of the most magical places on Earth. Whether you’re there for 2 weeks or 2 years, the Balinese culture is sure to have a lasting impact on your life.
After I left Europe to become a digital nomad for 5 years, I spent several years in Bali. Yet to this day, whenever I come back, I learn something new. Here are just a few of the lessons you may learn if you visit this beautiful island.
Hati in Indonesian means “heart”, emphasising the spiritual meaning, more so than your actual heart. Hati hati means “watch your heart” or in other words, “take care”, “watch out” or “take it easy”. I’ve heard it used mostly in the context of “slow down”.
In our modern lives we rush everywhere, we rush to get up in the morning, we rush our lunches or even worse, we eat lunch at our desks or whilst walking on the streets. We drive fast to get somewhere quickly just to rush through that activity too. When do we ever slow down??
In Bali everything is done mindfully, there is no rushing. Even if the roads are clear, I’ve never seen a Balinese driver drive faster than 40km/hr. It really helps keep you in the present moment and live stress-free.
Spend more time walking barefoot
How often do you touch the Earth? Once a month, once a week or every day? When you are in Bali, there are plenty of opportunities to kick off your flip flops and connect with nature.
The modern term for touching the Earth is called grounding or earthing and there have been many experiments to prove why it is good for us to do so, from improving sleep and increasing energy to improving blood pressure and relieving muscle tension.
For me personally, it’s mostly about connecting with nature, I immediately feel relaxed and at peace, as all my worries flow out from my body and into the ground.
Making someone smile is the most important thing you can do
It was in my first few months in Ubud, I was still settling in and didn’t know many locals. I was asked to speak to some Javanese children at a school in Denpasar and found myself being driven there by 3 Balinese guys who were organising it. That was my first experience of the local people and the most unforgettable one.
They were normal guys, maybe late twenties, but the amount of deep spiritual knowledge they had, compared to no one I have met before. One guy was chatty in particular and was telling me how Balinese people are brought up. He said “if you make someone smile, then that’s all you needed to have done that day, you did the most important thing”.
I learnt a lot about their culture that day, they make everything they do beautifully, and they do it all with love and in service to others. If they build something, you can be sure it will have the most elaborate hand-made design. If you get a massage, they will put frangipani flowers under your massage table so you have something nice to look at. If they bring you tea, it will have a pretty bird made out of banana leaves sitting in it. If they make your bed, they will decorate it with flowers and bring you fresh papaya in the morning.
People say that you should treat others as you wish to be treated yourself… well the Balinese sure have nailed that one!
There are better things you can be doing than sitting online
Very rarely do you see a local person in Indonesia just sitting all day on Facebook. Even if they can afford a laptop/smartphone, they would still rather be doing something more useful, like planting a durian tree, making coconut oil or helping someone.
For those of us who can’t imagine not looking at our phones at least once an hour, this part of the world will be a real eye-opener. You begin to question what you’re truly doing with your life and how much you contribute to society and your wellbeing.
Wake up early and watch the sunrise
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Balinese person sleep in late. No matter that time you are up, even if you’re on a super early flight and are leaving the house at 4am looking like a zombie…they will be in the garden, picking weeds or looking after the chickens!
The early bird gets the worm? The Balinese sure live by that principle. If you want to get good food at the market (for local prices), you should get there from 5:00-6:30am.
If they have enough energy after sleeping just a couple of hours a day to work non-stop, be happy and kind to everyone, then they must be doing something right!!
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