In the modern world silence is a luxury, more precious than gold. More than that, it is an experience that for many people is so alien that they even seem to fear it, filling every moment with chatter, TV, facebook and any one of the million media we now have to fill the space between conversations. That is why I love the Balinese holy-day of Nyepi so much.
Nyepi is the day of silence, a day when the whole island takes a big breath and becomes quiet. Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self- reflection and meditation, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The whole island closes down. Even the international airport closes, on an island whose lifeblood is tourism…There are no lighting fires, no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no travelling; and for some, no talking or eating at all.
Even tourists must observe Nyepi; although free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth. Even Kuta with it’s carnival of touts and taxis becomes an oasis of calm.
The Nyepi day is only one part of a lovely series of rituals that culminates the day after Nyepi in the Balinese New Year, a day when people get together and forgive each other any insults or injuries from the previous year.
Today is Melasti. Later, instead of free-diving, we will be joining a 1000 plus people in the village to walk to the beach, in a glorious procession of music and colour to make offerings to Sany yang widi, the supreme deity, Lord of Land and Ocean. This is part of the Balinese path of Yoga, using ritual to achieve union and balance with forces of Nature, in this case, appropriately enough,
this takes place on the beach. Holy water will be taken from the sea and used to bless ceremonial objects. As free-divers, how could we miss it?
The last few weeks we have been turning away all new students for both Yoga and Free-diving. While we are sorry to disappoint, we are very happy to be completely absorbed in the reconstruction and decoration of our new training space in the village of Jemaluk, on the Amed coast, Bali. We are right on the beach at Jemaluk wall, probably one of the best places for free-dive training in all Bali.
So far the project has coincided with some very rough weather on Bali, with storms ripping up trees and knocking down mountain-sides. This has affected electricity and telephone/net cover, meaning that some calls have not being getting through. It also means the free-diving conditions have been pretty bad.
We hope that we will be back up and running in the next month, in Bali’s first purpose built free-diving, yoga, meditation and cafe space. 😉
Until then here’s some pics for those who have been making curious noises.
So far we’ve ripped the guts out of the dank and dingy kitchen,
knocked down walls…
And put up bamboo.
Right now it’s a dusty mess.
But in a few weeks it’s going to be great. Watch this space…
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.
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