Traffic was stopped today at crossroads all over Bali for picturesque scenes of demon appeasement, as Balinese gathered in their ceremonial dress laden with offerings for the restless forces of nature. Wholes villages sat on the ground in their finest clothes while offerings were made to maintain the cosmic balance between man and nature.
When it got dark, after the purifications and offerings, the demons came out to play. The children and teenagers came screaming through, carrying huge papier-mache Ogoh-Ogoh monsters mounted on bamboo platforms. They bounced them and span in circles, making them come alive, sometimes charging so close to the crowd they left scrums in their wake, all the while howling. Some Ogoh Ogoh were comical and some were frightening enough to give children nightmares. All of them took many hours of work and were preceded by gamelan bands playing percussion while kids as young as ten chugged on kerosene and spat fire.
These demons symbolise the disruptive power of nature and the evil in man. After raising a unholy chaos at the crossroads they are taken away and burnt.
Balinese love a show and it was good one, which is just as well because tomorrow there is nothing going on. As in nothing, no work, no cars, no electricity and no leaving your house, there aren’t even flights into the international airport, you’re not even supposed to have sex.
During the silent day of Nyepi, Balinese will practice Yoga Semedi and Catur Berata Penyepian meditation, Amati Geni, which forbids them; from lighting fires and switching on lights, Amati Karya, from working, Amati Lelanguan, from enjoying leisure activities and Amati Lelungan, from leaving their houses.
After tonights carnival Bali will be darkened and silent for the whole day, while the devout will fast and pray, contemplating Sunia, the sacred silence within. This is Yoga, Balinese style. Ritual chaos, purification by fire and water followed by silent union between man and his universe.
Free-diving and Yoga will resume the day after tomorrow on the first day of the new year.
At Apneista.com we believe that free-diving is not just a beautiful sport, it is also an important tool for self development, a form of ‘ocean yoga’. Our philosophy works on the understanding that training in free-diving should result in increased self awareness and greater fluidity and permeability on the physical, mental and emotional levels.
Free-diving is the beautiful art of letting go to the moment, of disciplining the body and breath so that sometimes you may go beyond the body and breath. When we dive we may feel contractions, the mind may say go up, go up, but we don’t resist, we absorb, we let the sensation move through us and any associated mental reaction is calmly observed. We observe and enjoy sensation, even so called unpleasant sensation. We become permeable to it and liquid in our reactions. Time is limited but sometimes the moment draws out and becomes something eternal. (more…)
“When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered· the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls· bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory” -Marcel Proust “The Remembrance of Things Past”
With these words the French writer Proust captures the mysterious, yet often neglected importance of our sense of smell. In all other mammals the sense of smell is more developed than in humans. Other mammals navigate, hunt, mate and even communicate using their sense of smell, yet most people are ignorant to the importance of the olfactory mechanism to humans.
When people talk about the right equipment for free-diving normally they are talking about fins, lines,weights and wet-suits. These are all important for training, indeed essential in most cases, but the first and most important piece of equipment for successful training is the human mind/body. (more…)
Anapana is a preparatory practice for the powerful Vippassanna technique of Buddhist meditation. It is based on observation of the breath and the sensations around the nostrils and upper lip. The breath being the link between conscious and unconscious minds, observation of natural respiration is considered the obvious first step in developing subtle awareness.
The practice is simple, yet difficult to master. (more…)
For centuries wise-men and sages have admonished man to awaken and become truly self aware. Many techniques have been promoted to achieve this awakening. From simple self observation to self flagellation, from discipline of the mind with meditation to purification of the body with asana, there is hardly a technique that has been not been prescribed at one time or other.