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Before I left for my Balinese yoga retreat, I had a clear goal: I wanted to be stronger mentally and find inner peace. I know, I know, it’s a cliché, but hear me out.
I had been busy prior to this trip so I felt like I needed to unwind and sort of find myself again. I’m always busy with something whether it’s work or my blog, and somewhere along the way I began to think about what kind of life I wanted for myself. So that’s why I went to Bali – to reflect.
The fact that I went there as a solo traveler was probably the reason why I got so much out of it. It gave me all the time in the world to reflect on everything and it intensified the whole experience. Here’s how:
1. I’M STRONGER THAN I THINK
When I first came to Bali, I was besides myself. As some of you know, it was my first solo trip and I had a tough time adjusting. Frankly, I was a mess the first few days and I was convinced that I’d end up changing my ticket and go home earlier. I didn’t think I could be alone and have a good time on my own.
But… Attending daily meditation classes and giving myself time to reflect made me realize that I was stronger than that. Hanging in there and giving myself time helped me stop the negative thoughts and understand that I had the strength within all along. When I finally left Bali, I felt stronger and more confident than ever.
2. SOLITUDE IS HEALTHY
Before I left for this Balinese yoga retreat many of my friends asked me: “So are you okay going by yourself?” Or concerned family members (ahem, mom) who wanted me to take a companion for the trip. My choice to go by myself was intentional.
The way I see it, there’s a distinction between being alone and being lonely. A retreat is a great way to check in with oneself and reflect. I dined alone every day, I went on trips alone, I did everything alone, but I never felt lonely. Taking time off to be in my own company and learning to trust my own instincts was very fulfilling. I believe we should all do that once in a while.
3. PEOPLE CAN THINK WHAT THEY WANT
One of the hardest things in life is not caring about what others think. We all want to blend in, to be accepted and be popular so we delude ourselves to believe that being like everyone else makes us happy.
But being cautious, restrained and always caring about other people’s opinion hasn’t done me any good. In fact, it has crippled my creativity and made me insecure – and for what? So I can be like everyone else and have low self-esteem?
People make up their own minds no matter what you say, so you might as well just speak up. Life is too short not to be able to say what you think. So from now on, I’m taking ownership of my life and I’m going to be more honest and upfront. And if people don’t approve? Well, too bad!
4. I WON’T DIE WITHOUT MEAT AFTER ALL
As a meat lover, I’ve never felt the need to try vegetarian or vegan food. However, after staying in an ashram in India, I’ve been more open towards non-meat foods so I tried it again in Ubud. To my surprise, vegetarian food can actually be insanely delicious – so good in fact that I lived as a vegetarian during my entire stay!
5. I NEED TO BE NICER TO ME
Living as a vegetarian and having an overall healthier lifestyle with daily yoga classes and meditation had me thinking. I felt better mentally, I felt healthier, I had more energy and the food tasted just as good as meat dishes. So why am I eating meat again?
I don’t think I could live without meat altogether – I am a sushi addict after all – but I am not eating as much meat any more. After I’ve returned home, we have a few meat-free days a week and it feels great.
6. NOT ALL HEALERS ARE GENUINE
I had a rather unpleasant experience with a reflexologist in Ubud who ended up giving me bruises so I looked like I’d taken a beating – which I kinda had. I spoke to someone afterwards who told me that it was normal to get bruised, but it did not look normal and I felt stupid for not trusting my intuition and leave. So I’m more careful in the future when and if I see a healer.
7. I DO FINE ON MY OWN
I’m a very social person and I like to talk.. like a lot. So I was a bit concerned how I would manage on my own for so long. I thought I would be busy finding travelers to talk to, but that showed not to be the case.
At one point, I met an American girl who wanted to hang out. It would have been so easy to go along, but that would also kind of ruin the purpose of my whole stay there. So I passed. I needed to be on my own, become comfortable eating by myself and learn to feel good in my own company. When I allowed myself to do that, I thrived and I’ve never felt so strong mentally. I don’t need people around me to be happy. I’m already happy within.
8. MEDITATION CAN BE DANGEROUS
I’ve been meditating for many years, but when I came to Bali I discovered how powerful a tool it actually is. One of the meditation classes I attended was very intense and it brought up emotions and things I hadn’t thought of for a long time. At the beginning it was relieving, but it soon turned into a somewhat frightening experience.
While this is a natural part of the meditation process, it’s important to have someone to talk to afterwards, and because I didn’t do that, the unpleasant emotions were amplified. Certain meditation types, especially those focused on chakras and awakening dormant energies (kundalini) can be dangerous if you are unprepared or guided by an unexperienced teacher.
Always trust your intuition when it comes to trying out a new meditation practice.
9. I’M MORE SPIRITUAL THAN I THOUGHT
I’ve always had a non-spiritual approach to yoga and meditation. For me, meditation is about strengthening the mind and this doesn’t necessarily have to do with spirituality or religion. However, when I attended the yoga and meditation classes, I was repeatedly confronted with hindu gods such as Vishnu and Ganesha in mantras and wordings – and you know what? It bothered me.
I am open-minded when it comes to spirituality so I was surprised to feel uncomfortable with this. But I did. I didn’t want to say thanks to a hindu god, but I had been fine if we gave thanks to the Christian god. I’m clearly more spiritual than I thought.
10. THE MIND IS STRONG
Meditation really allows you to reflect on things and feel everything much deeper. It’s also a strong tool to control the mind with. I practiced the ability to recognize when the mind wanders, then stop it, return to the task at hand, and doing all of that without any emotional reaction what-so-ever. It takes a long time to learn, but I’m improving!
Being in control of my mind and emotions made me feel much stronger mentally. I realized that I can do whatever I set my mind to.
Wow, that was a lot of honesty. Have you had an experience that changed your view on life?
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