Bali Detox, Healing, Herbal Bali, island life, Uncategorized

Bali Detox

So, its been a while that I haven’t been feeling so fabulous – low energy, sniffly , poor digestion. It finally got to the point where I knew I had to take some positive steps and made an appointment with Bali Natural Healing Centre in Canggu http://www.balihealing.org/index.html I had heard really good things about Peggy Marienfeld – a naturopath from Germany who who been in Bali for several years.   She has a really sensible and balanced approach to healing and holistic well being and I warmed to her immediately.

I have always believe in a holistic approach to health but am sensible enough to know that sometimes the western path of medicine is the only way to go holistic v western but at other times – like now, the last thing I want to do is burden my overloaded system with harsh  synthetic drugs. It seems like my stomach needs some TLC not a chemical blitz, and so I am embarking on a detox/cleanse.  Peggy gave me a tincture of cloves, ginger, wormwood and black walnut to help clean out the parasites and my online research confirms that these are all commonly used herbs for parasites. I have to take this for three weeks, and have also stocked up on chlorophyll and probiotics. You see, my aim is removal and regeneration. I want to remove the toxins and parasites, but simultaneously restore the balance to my system. I have also stocked up my fridge with organic greens and am removing all sugar, wheat  and refined/processed food from my diet for the next couple of weeks. detox ingredients in Bali

Quite often I will just eat a salad for lunch and steamed vegetables and rice for dinner, however I know that I will quickly get very bored if this is all I eat for two weeks so I have vowed to be adventurous and to make cooking healthy, tasty and nutritious food  my mission. I started today with bok choy. Yes, I know its good for you – and I try to add it to my diet as often as possible – but really, its not my favourite food, yet there is a big bunch of it in my fridge (alongside some Sri Lankan spinach and some very dark green Kale.) I started thinking about a dish I used to love when I lived in Fiji –  palusani – water spinach cooked in coconut cream and this became the inspiration for my lunch.  At the risk of not sounding at all humble, I have to say it turned out to be divine. And went perfectly with my rice steamed with star anise, cardamom and cinnamon (who says rice is boring?)

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Ingredients: Spinach in coconut milk

  • 2 large bok choy, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 head broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • organic salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Steam the vegetables until wilted, then lightly sautee in olive oil.
  2. Add all other ingredients and stir until well combined and then simmer about ten minutes
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Healing

Holistic v Western medicine

       

 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.

Holism

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

 

 

Eco resorts Bali, Healing, Uncategorized

Fivelements Puri Ahimsa

Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa sits at the end of a narrow country lane surrounded by rice paddys and fields of ripening corn. Thatched circular buildings with conical roofs reach for the sky, the gardens are filled with lush foliage, and the gushing of a fast flowing river  intermingles with birdsong.

From the moment I step onto the property I become aware of a shift in energy, a higher vibration. Perhaps it’s the convergence of eight energy lines that run through the property; maybe it’s the all-pervasive concept of ‘Love in Action,’ or possibly it’s the ritualistic Agni Hotra fires that are lit at dawn and dusk each day to purify the property. I have a traditional Balinese healing treatment that is a mix of reflexology and chakra balancing with Pak Dewa, a wonderful and powerful energy healer. At times the session is painful and I shed tears,  but by the end my spirit is soaring. Afterwards I sit on the verandah drinking ginger tea and reflecting on my life and my need to restore balance.That evening I join the Agni Hotra  fire purification ceremony, with Balinese priests leading us through a powerful ritual that includes throwing beans, seeds and incense into the fire, to symbolise cleansing, healing and forgiveness, while coconuts are smashed to signify the breakdown of ego. Through it all mantras are chanted, bells are rung and prayers recited.

The Balinese concept of Tri Hita Karana ‘creating a harmonious relationship to God, other human beings and to nature,’ is integrated in every aspect of the design. Local priests provided spiritual guidance in the layout of the resort, while international environmental consultants were consulted to minimize the ecological impact. Thoughtful construction utilizes  bamboo, riverstone, coconut wood and recycled teak and mimics the curves, colors and rawness of nature. Sustainable practices include effective waste management, low energy consumption and  efficient use of water resources; all  contributing  to making this one of the most sustainable eco conscious resorts on the island.

But just because it is sustainable doesn’t mean it cuts any corners when it comes to luxury. Five sumptuous sleeping pavilions have decadent outdoor bathrooms, private decks with sunken tubs, high tech chromo graphic lighting, and handpicked antiques, while the spa specialises in organic treatments concocted in the spa laboratory and the restaurant serves the most exquisite raw food on the island – truly food for the soul.

http://www.fivelements.org

Eco resorts Bali, Healing, Yoga and Meditation

Dancing with Saffire

Just returned from a Nia class with the amazing Saffire, the newest in a rather awesome line up of teachers to arrive at Desa Seni over the last couple of years.  I met Saffire last year as he rocked the Bali Spirit festival with his unique blaze of rhythm and movement and was one of the first to sign up for his three day Nia/Shamantra workshop at Desa Seni where we  learned to express ourselves through dance and stillness,  to vocalise and dance to our inner emotions as he challenged us to go beyond our boundaries, to listen to our bodies, to dance into being…… People keep asking me what his classes are like – but its hard to describe, I guess you could start by saying that its about joy and movement and liberation and laughter and fun. About  truly dancing like no one is watching – giving yourself space to move, then shaking everything up and out, and feeling absolutely amazing while you are doing it. The best thing is  – the buzz stays with you.

The Nia technique is fundamentally about unifying the body, mind, emotions and spirit with high energy dance that borrows from martial arts , yoga and healing practices. It is a form of self healing through a combination of choreographed dance  and free form that sees movement as a pathway for transformation, a way of dancing through our barriers.  Saffire is teaching three  Nia dance classes at Desa Seni each week. He also facilitates his own creation, ‘Dance into Being’ on Saturday nights, its a little bit like a guided ecstatic dance that incorporates sound and rhythm  – although describing it like this just doesn’t seem to do the experience justice –  I could just say its about losing yourself in the music and finding new ways to move and express yourself which is such a completely liberating experience.

Inherent to Desa Seni is the notion of community  – or ‘kula. ’ For Saffire true community happens “When everyone moves to the same pulse. Each may have a different relationship to that pulse, but the single pulse is what holds the center of community. Communicating with each other in this way with sound and silence, call and response, transmitting and receiving, a singular pulse is created, making music possible, making healing possible, making community.”

One of the things I love about Desa Seni is that the staff also have the opportunity to join free classes and workshops.  Obviously, there was a full turn out for Saffire’s staff class!

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For scheduled classes check http://www.desaseni.com/schedule.htm

For more about Nia www.nianow.com

For more about Saffire www.shamantranow.com

Healing

The healing power of crystals

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The human connection to crystals and stones spans time, cultures, continents and religions. Ancient Sumerians included crystals in their magic formulas; Egyptian pharaohs had their headdresses lined with malachite in the belief that it helped to rule wisely; while native American shamans used them for divination and healing. Their curative properties are mentioned repeatedly in ancient Vedic Hindu texts and referred to in the Old Testament of the Bible; while the mysterious black stone at Mecca (possibly a meteorite) forms an intrinsic part of the Islamic pilgrimage.

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In 1880 Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered the piezoelectric property of quartz  – when squeezed or stretched, a voltage is produced across the crystal’s face. These days crystals are utilized in almost every form of technology. Liquid Crystal brings us the clarity in our computer screens, quartz keeps watches ticking, and electronic grade crystals are used in cell phones, clocks, games, television receivers, radios, computers and navigational instruments. But although science readily accepts the vibrational qualities of crystals, when it comes to the less tangible realms of crystal   therapy,   the suggested positive vibrations of gemstones is often relegated to the fringe of ‘new age;’  even though it is a tradition that is about as ‘old age’ as you can get.  We have been communing with stones in one way or another for as long as we have roamed the earth.

Like many before me, I have a fondness for adorning myself with gemstones and jewels and this story starts with my discovery of Atlantis, a shop in Seminyak filled with glittering gemstones, gleaming jewel encrusted silver bracelets, shimmering druzy pendants and crystals in all shapes and forms.  I left wearing a striking pendant of amethyst wrapped in a silver serpent.   I loved the way it felt on my skin, the way it shimmered in the sunlight and I started to wonder why we are so drawn to stones and crystals. Is it because we are naturally attracted to that which is beautiful? Is it a primal connection with something that is formed deep within the earth’s crust, or is it something more; could it be possible that stones hold some sort of therapeutic power? So I decided to try and find some answers. I had no expectations, just an open mind, a touch of skepticism and an abundance of natural curiosity.

The story became quite a journey that led to interesting people, places and experiences, I learned a lot about crystals, physics and geology, and I learned a lot about myself and my own belief system. My encounters with crystal therapy in various guises were thought provoking, sometimes profound, and always left with me a smile.  I can’t claim to have found all the answers I went looking for, or to have been miraculously ‘healed’ (thankfully I have no major ailments,) but I can share my experiences and the findings of those far more knowledgeable than myself.

Vibrations……..

The more I delve into the crystal realms, the more I come across this term. Is this the key – can the vibrations of crystals affect our bodies or our minds in some way? Quantum physics recognizes that everything vibrates, even the tiniest atom, but certain things, due to their composition will vibrate at a higher frequency.  For example, quartz which is 100% crystal, resonates clearly and harmoniously due to a highly organized molecular structure.   We have all experienced ‘good vibes’ and the  sense of harmony  experienced by  listening to music, visiting certain places or meeting someone that we feel in tune with; as  opposed to situations or people that create discord  and throw us off balance. Similarly when we are attacked by viruses or subjected to stress we feel out of sync. A holistic approach to therapy is all about restoring balance, so maybe the vibrations of certain crystals can help. This makes sense, but the link is still tenuous. Then I stumble across a book called “Hidden messages in water,” by Doctor Masar Emoto.  The book contains a series of astonishing photographs, in which single drops of water were frozen and the crystals they formed captured.  Fresh spring water produced beautifully formed crystals, whereas city water barely produced crystals at all. But here’s where it gets really interesting, when Bach was played to water, the resulting crystals were magnificent, but when heavy metal music was played to the same water, it produced badly formed crystals or none at all. Town water that had initially created ill formed crystals – suddenly made perfect formations after 500 people simultaneously prayed for it to be clean. The most beautiful of all crystals had been exposed to the words love and gratitude. In all these cases the structure of the water was fundamentally  altered due to the vibrations it was subjected to. As Humans bodies are comprised of over 70% water, is it possible that our physical process can be altered by positive vibrations?

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Vogel and crystals

According to Marcel Vogel who spent much of his life conducting extensive research into quartz crystals, it means precisely this! Vogel was a highly respected research scientist who received over 100 patents during his 27 years working for IBM.  He discovered that he could fundamentally alter the structure of water by spinning it around a tuned crystal.  Using such a process, the ph levels of water could be sufficiently altered, the freezing point significantly lowered and the molecular patterns rearranged and restructured.

In the same way that the healthy water in Emoto’s experiments created beautiful well formed crystals; the water found in healthy tissue cells in our bodies is formed into organized, geometrically shaped molecule patterns. While unhealthy and cancerous cells feature ungeometric and disorganized water molecules. Vogel’s findings showed that the clear vibration resonating from crystals helps to organize the water in our tissues and cells, creating healthier cells.  Further to this, he pioneered the use of a precisely cut quartz crystal, the  ‘Vogel-cut®  which transmitted a high level of energy and produced a constant vibration of the same frequency as water in its purest state.  He also developed a protocol in which a crystal could act as an “energetic scalpel” to remove unwanted vibrations from a person in distress.

www.vogelcrystals.net

History of stones

Our history is inextricably entwined with stones. Stone age man carved primitive tools and amulets, stone walls have traditionally provided us with shelter and protection, and gem stones have always been potent symbols of power and beauty. Through the ages various megalithic cultures erected impressive standing stones, monuments and stone circles that became places of, worship, ritual and meditation. The early Indonesians were animists and worshipped natural features in a belief that all objects have a life, a soul force. Vestiges of this practice can still be found, particularly on islands such as Flores and Sumba  where ethnic traditions hold strong. In Lombok the ‘Stone of Worship’ at Batu Pujaan was erected over 3000 years ago, and is associated with rituals of magic, meditation and the concoction of herbal medicines.   Here in Bali, megalithic structures are still used for worship in a scattering of villages inhabited by the original Bali Aga people; while  Lingga (monuments) carved from gold, jewels and stones can also be found in Hindu temples across the island.

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These days our lives are increasingly removed from nature, so perhaps certain stones help us reconnect with the earth and our more essential selves. There are few things more grounding than minerals, so maybe wearing a crystal, collecting stones or indulging in gem therapy can help restore a sense of calm and balance. It all boils down to intent.  If you believe that wearing a crystal will empower you, it probably will; if you attend a crystal healing session with a strong intent to heal, then for sure you will feel some benefits. It’s all up to the individual.  Wear them, meditate with them, place them on the window sill, attempt to see the future, douse for water, summon spirits, admire them as objects of immense beauty. Or ignore them completely…… If crystals work for you on some level – that’s great, if not, that’s ok too – because crystals are totally optional.

If you do decide to explore the world of crystal therapy then Bali has plenty of choices.

Crystal healing

Jelila provides my first healing session, and arrives at the door, blonde and fairylike bearing a guitar and a big bag of crystals.  She talks about the resonant vibration of crystals due to their highly organized molecular structure. “Having a positive person around you raises your vibrations –  it’s the same with the right combination of crystals.”

Jelila has a background in yoga, meditation and energy healing and you can join her classes at Yoga barn. She also practices crystal healing which she describes as “A complex art form, based on an intuitive sense of your present energy, aura and life. ” She adds that, “It is non invasive and harmless, the worse thing that can happen is nothing.”   We start with an aura reading, and each of my chakras is assigned colours, shapes and sounds. My rational mind does not understand, but her observations are unerringly accurate, and deep from my subconscious, where the demons lurk, she unearths an extremely irrational fear. Right she says we are going to fix this. She guides me through a visualization, or re programming as she calls it,   and then explains that she will use a combination of crystal energy and sound healing to integrate this transformation.   I close my eyes as she drapes strings of crystals over me, and become aware of a powerful tingly sensation around my head, it feels like my hair is standing on end. I assume Jelila is doing some kind of energy healing but when I sneak a peek I see she is busy placing crystals around my feet. The feeling is so intense I can’t help laughing – “What’s happening to my head,” I ask, “That would be the detoxifying crystals I put on your pillow,” she answers.   By now Jelila is softly playing the guitar and singing, her beautiful voice flutters around me. It’s extraordinarily soothing to be sung too and lulls me into a warm and cosy state. Afterwards I feel happy, calm and kind of floaty, more than anything I feel liberated from an irrational fear. No doubt I could have sat in an office with a psychiatrist and progressed to this point after weeks on the sofa talking about my childhood  – but therapy is  much more enjoyable when you are covered in crystals and sung to!  Jelila also designs healing necklaces and has recorded a range of CDs. http://jelila.wordpress.com/

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The Crystal Light Bed

I find myself at a house on the outskirts of Ubud and am greeted by Tamara, an intuitive healer who also performs healing sessions utilizing a Crystal Light Bed.  This contraption was created by John of God, the famous Brazilian spiritual healer who is estimated to have healed hundreds of thousands of people. Science has no answer for this kind of healing in which John of God acts as a spirit medium, allowing  “entities” to take over his body and perform surgery while he is in a trance.  However, his work has been documented by medical teams from around the world, who confirm miraculous recoveries from AIDS, cancer and other illnesses that were deemed incurable. He developed The Crystal Light Bed as an adjunct to healing and it consists of 7 Vogel-cut Brazilian quartz crystals which are suspended over each of the seven major chakras.  Tamara explains that it is essentially a chromo graphic machine that combines energy, colour and light; the colored lights that beam through the crystals act as a magnifier of energy and intent for healing.  She explains that this is “Different from other forms of crystal healing in that it enables a specific current of John of God and his various healing spirit entities.” It sounds kind of wacky and my rational mind is screaming,  ‘How,’ but I apply my motto ‘Never try never know,”  and as I lie down she  tells me to say a prayer of intent. From the moment I shut my eyes I enter a state of deep blissful relaxation – at times it’s almost as if I am levitating and I sense the presence of others in the room. Perhaps it’s my imagination, perhaps not – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is a lovely experience that leaves me calm and peaceful. I ask Tamara if she can see an immediate change in people following the treatment, and she comments that I am sparkling…. ..When I look in the mirror I do seem to have a bit of a glow and my eyes are shining clear and bright. email tj@gaiaclinic.com

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Crystal Sound

I first had the pleasure of Healing Sound Therapy at Bali Spirit Festival during a workshop led by Awa Hoshi, a statuesque, gently spoken woman of Cheyenne – Slovakian descent who plays silicon quartz crucibles (pure quartz carved into receptacles of various sizes.) A talented musician, Awa Hoshi pioneered the use of crystal sound therapy over two decades ago and her work has been well recognized across the world.  More than 100 of us were gathered that afternoon and as we stretched out on the floor we were instructed to visualize what we desired most at that point in time. Awa Hoshi  started to play, and the room was filled with  lingering, beautiful  waves of sound. Everything ceased to exist beyond the sound of crystal, and my vision of fully sustaining myself as a freelance writer. The sensation was not so much of hearing, but of feeling. Afterwards everything seemed incredibly clear and when I checked my emails I had two commissions from magazines to write about the festival, and have had a constant stream of work ever since. It’s not magic, I didn’t just blink my eyes and find I was suddenly  consumed with work,  but during that crystal sound filled afternoon I had given myself the space to realize what it was that I really wanted and from that time on focused my energy into achieving it. When I meet Awa  Hoshi again, she explained that sound therapy   helps us to   “ Crystallize an  intention, then magnetize that reality.” She adds that it, “Provides a foundation, it’s then up to us as to how we deal with it.”

Hearing is the first sense to develop in the womb, the most developed of all our senses, yet most of us only have a small amount of pure, clear sound in our lives, bird song, running streams, leaves rustling in the breeze are often drowned out by the hum of air conditioners, the roar of motor bikes, the incessant chatter of television. Awa Hoshi tells me that “The sound of pure tone crystal returns us to our natural state as beings of harmony – it is a sound that takes you beyond sound.” http://www.bali3000.com/crystalsound/

Picture 5 Awa Hoshi

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