Perhaps we are not so much what we eat, but what we feed on. All of us suffer times of hardship and depression, but also hopefully joy and playfulness and optimism. There is a time for darkness and a time for light, what is essential is finding the balance between the two. At the heart of Balinese hinduism is this concept of duality – where by the darker forces are seen as equally necessary as the forces of light. When we learn to accept the shadows of our own personal selves, without giving to much energy to them we can make peace with ourselves as a balanced whole. If you are feeling a little out of balance, if the darkness is weighing a little heavy there are a myriad of ways to redress the balance here in Bali, from yoga to meditation to dance, to eco retreats and organic whole food cafes. When you feed your soul with that which is good and positive, when you give energy to that which lifts you higher you allow your light to shine. It’s your choice.
While there are definite crossovers between western and holistic approaches to health – the two differ fundamentally in concept. To take a very generalised view, western medicine (known as allopathic) tends to focus on diagnosing and treating a specific illness once it occurs – it is designed to attack, and will often use pharmaceutical drugs to do so. On the other hand, a holistic approach (derived from the Greek word halos for whole,) is not so much a system of treating illness, but rather a way of preventing it in the first place, by promoting healthy living and integration of mind, body and spirit. It may (but not necessarily) favour alternative therapies or it may be used in conjunction with western treatment. Neither approach needs to be exclusive as each has its strength and weaknesses, so ideally they can be used to complement each other depending on given circumstances. Stay well and healthy and you will get sick less often, and thus have little need for western medicine, but when it comes to a sudden life or death scenario, it is the fast responding, western-trained A & E team who will probably save your life.
Although the term holism wasn’t coined until the 20th century, the practice dates back thousands of years. Chinese medicine and India’s ancient Ayurvedic traditions emphasised healthy living, while the ancient Greeks and Egyptians were herbalists, using common plants and herbs for healing. In fact Hippocrates, (a physician in Greece in 400BC) who is considered to be the father of modern medicine, had one foot in scientific reason and the other in the power of natural healing. He believed that the task of the physician was to help the healing process along rather than to take it over. A holistic approach to health fell out of favour with radical advances in allopathic medicine around the turn of the 20th century, but by the 1970’s it was making a resurgence . While some dismissed this practice as ‘new age,’ actually holism is about as ‘old age’ as it gets.
Prevention as a cure
There is, however, no denying the impact of advances in modern medicine, with developments such as antibiotics, neurosurgery, transplants, ultra sound, immunisations and so forth having a radical effect on the quality and quantity of human life. Until the 1800’s the average life expectancy was 30 – 40; in the ten generations since then it has doubled. Obviously increased sanitation, access to clean running water and better nutrition have a huge part to play in this shift – but there is no denying the crucial role allopathic medicine has played. Nevertheless, a valid argument is that western medicine treats only the symptoms but not the underlying causes. Take recurring chronic sinusitis. You could take a course of antibiotics every time it occurs, or you could look at what is causing it – maybe a dust allergy, or perhaps too much dairy in your diet. Then by making some lifestyle changes you could prevent it. Here in lies the difference. With western medicine, you go to the doctor to get healed, with a holistic approach the onus falls on YOU the individual. What about a wheat or dairy intolerance? There is no magic pharmaceutical pill to cure this, only you can heal yourself by changing your diet.
Again, when it comes to common colds and flu, many people will go rushing off to the doctor or pharmacist. But, there is no antibiotic that will attack a viral infection. Paracetemol and decongestants may give temporary relief, however your best bet is to rest, take Vitamin C and eat lots of garlic – which is proved to be anti viral, anti fungal and anti bacterial. In fact, regularly eating garlic in the cold season, or at the first sign of a cold will help prevent you getting ill, while a strong tea infused with ginger, garlic, lemon and honey will provide greater relief than over the counter medicine – and will also fight the virus and strengthen your immune system. Again, the onus is on the individual. If you pay attention to your body you will notice that you tend to get sick when you are run down, stressed or overworked and not eating properly. These are things that most of us can take some control over – should we choose to. We can redress the balance by joining a yoga class, eating well and doing things that make us feel happy.
The beauty of Holism is that it encourages awareness, and responsibility for our own health, which makes total sense. But no matter how healthy we are, sooner or later we are all exposed to bacteria, succumb to genetic predispositions, or suffer from serious accidents and injuries, and at times there really is no disputing the power of western medicine. Managing chronic asthma is a good example of taking a combined holistic/western approach to well being. Avoiding triggers such as dust, smoking, dairy products and certain foods such as tomatoes can lessen the frequency of attacks, but when a really severe attack hits, the administration of hyrdrocortisone and oxygen in a hospital may be the only thing that prevents respiratory failure. And if your head is split open in a serious car accident – you are probably going to want the skilled neuro surgeon using advanced western techniques to be the one who treats you.
Reducing dependency on western medicine and synthetic drugs by taking responsibility for your own health is a great thing, but remember that sometimes taking responsibility for your own health means visiting the doctor. While it is well documented that many people successfully treat cancer holistically – your greatest chance of survival is to detect it early (while it is still isolated and treatable) through medical imaging or blood screening.
Perhaps the best way forward is not to debate holistic v western, but rather to embrace the notion of holistic & western.
Published in Kula Magazine July 2013
Translating into something akin to ‘heart touch’ the founding philosophy of Kayun is that “Anything created with a heart will bring happiness, inner peace and positive energy.”
Unless you are lucky enough to be invited to a ceremonial meal in a village, finding a traditional Balinese dining experience can be surprisingly difficult. A visit to the Kayun Restaurant and Lounge in Mas gives a rare insight into the relationship between food and the divine. The setting is utterly enchanting, thatched berugas and a main dining pavilion set amidst a natural garden. Many of the products used at Kayun are homemade, from the brem (rice wine) to coconut oil to soy sauce, and you can watch women at work in the traditional open air kitchen fuelled by a log fire.
Our welcome drink is a rather potent Brem Mojito and we follow with some traditional jamus, including a Loloh Kayun Turmeric, a dark orange concoction made with turmeric, ginger and lemon, and a grassy green Loloh Kayun Saraswati sweetened with honey from Singaraja.
Food is beautifully presented, the Nasi Saraswati comes on a lotus leaf, topped with eight dishes woven from banana leaf. Each is an offering and pays tribute to the ocean, the river, trees, earth and sky, with turmeric rice, dry salty fish, river shrimp, grated coconut, crunchy soya beans, sambal and spicy chicken. The Lotus Rice is decoratively wrapped in a lotus leaf tied in a bundle. It’s a little like opening a birthday present to reveal rice that is slightly sweet and just a little spicy rice with pumpkin, carrot and tossed in coconut oil. The Vegetable Bamboo comes packed into a bamboo stem, blending the earthy goodness of cassava leaf with tofu and tempe and Balinese spice. While the Yuyu Crab is a fresh river crab soup beautifully served in a coconut. Other traditional dishes include Crispy Duck, Soto Ayam and Bubur Rempah, herb porridge made with red rice, star anise, sweet corn, cinnamon and chicken stock, and a Natural Daluman Pudding that takes its green colour from the dalaman leaf.
Mas is famed across Indonesia for its wood carving. As legend has it, in the 16th century, a monk named Danhyannirarta placed a wooden twig in the ground, which miraculously became a living tree filled with golden flowers. He took this as a sign that the people should put down their roots in this place, and call it Mas, meaning gold; and declared that the people who settled here would create their life from wood. As well as a restaurant, Kayun creates stunning works of art and sculptures lovingly carved from single tree trunks, so make sure to take a peek in the Bidadari Gallery at the entrance to the restaurant.
In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as [kalpa vriksha,] meaning “tree which gives all that is necessary for living,” because nearly all parts of the tree can be used in some manner or another.
Coconuts are full of things that are great for your skin and body, like vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, natural proteins and fibres. One of the best ways to stay hydrated in the tropics is to drink plenty of coconut water as it is packed with natural electrolytes that replenish and nourish the body. Applying coconut to the body has a similarly hydrating effect. The milk is particularly rich and has been used for centuries to nourish hair and skin and leave it looking smooth and radiant, while coconut oil is a valuable source of vitamin E – an antioxidant which keeps skin soft and helps battle the visible effects of aging. For a deep conditioning treatment at home, wash your hair, towel dry, then massage two tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil into your hair and scalp – concentrating on the damaged ends. Cover with a shower cap then wrap in a hot towel and leave for two to three hours, before wash thoroughly (the oil is heavy so you may need to wash a couple of times.)
Splurge at Four Seasons
It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for a tropical spa treatment than one of the open-air bales at The Spa at Four Seasons, Jimbaran Bay. Opt for a Coconilla ritual, imbued with the exotic aroma of coconut, the scent of vanilla, a salty sea breeze and the gentle lap of waves on the beach. Freshly grated coconut is blended with thick coconut milk into a rich luxurious body scrub that gently polishes and rehydrates the skin, leaving it incredibly soft and supple. I highly recommend following with a Neem and Coconut Oil Treatment. The deeply relaxing scalp massage stimulates blood circulation, neem rejuvenates hair cells, and the coconut oil nourishes and restores the hair. The effect is astonishing, after this treatment my hair is positively lustrous (and that is not an adjective I could usually use when describing my hair.) Many say that when it comes to hair care, virgin coconut oil is better than any manmade treatment on the market and I tend to agree. Unlike most oils and moisturisers that just sit on the skin, coconut oil actually penetrates the hair shaft to prevent damage from the inside out. Alison
Coconilla Ritual at The Spa at Four Seasons, Jimbaran Bay +62 361 701010
In the three years that it has been open The Little Green Cafe has built a loyal following thanks to a fresh salad bar, friendly vibe, and delicious healthy desserts. With its relocation last year to a bigger space (just across the road from the original spot,) Little Green has blossomed – quite literally – into the cafe it was always meant to be. Vines dangle in the vibrant garden, aloe vera spills out of terracotta pots; basil and coriander thrive amidst the Buddha statues, and there are colourful garlands of flowers everywhere. Simple outdoor furniture is punctuated by sunbrellas, heart-shaped napkin holders and woven placemats.
Little Green has always been a gathering place, somewhere to sit down with friends and enjoy a good healthy meal in atmospheric, welcoming surrounds. Now there is room to breath, and the garden creates a true sanctuary – its hard to believe we are just meters from busy Jalan Mertanadi. The concept remains the same – home style whole foods, with daily changing salads and bakes, vegan burgers, healthy juicy elixirs. However, the menu, like the premises has expanded, with a recent shift towards more raw vegan foods – including a huge range of delicious and nutritious desserts.
We start with a Raw Mexican Platter, a new addition featuring crunchy, locally made tortilla chips, home baked chilli beans, a sharp, piquant tomato sambal, fresh salsa and a creamy tahina and peanut sauce. I follow with the bake of the day – a light and tasty vegan Vegetable Lasagne made with eggless pasta, lashings of fresh vegetables and spinach. The rich creaminess coming from a cashew nut cheese and totally renders béchamel sauce obsolete! I choose two side salads, Pumpkin & Pineapple, with rucola, lemongrass, cranberries and a hint of chilli, and Fennel, Beetroot Coleslaw, a bright, cheery and very red salad madewith lots of peppers, cabbage and beetroot.
I really enjoy the desserts which have a natural and earthy goodness. The moist and sticky Vegan Chocolate Cake is textured and flavoured with organic raw cacao and cashews, and sweetened with dates. While the Raw Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake is made with creamed cashews, vanilla, honey, almonds and dates set in a macadamia nut crust.
Drinks range from Young Coconut, to Aloe Vera, Orange and Apple and Green Juice, and there is also a small selection of nuts and pulses, teas and organic products for sale in the shop front. For those looking for a healthy kick start to the day The Little Green breakfast beckons with Cranberry Almond Porridge, Apple, Date and Cinnamon Porridge.
The Little Green Café Jl Bidadari No 1. (off Jalan Mertanadi)
P +62 361 2752125 Open 9am – 6pm