Every March, the entire island of Bali closes down for their international holiday called Nyepi. Nyepi is a day of silence in Bali, and all shops, cafes, business and even the airports close down as the local people spend time inside with their families, enjoying a quiet day of reflection and inward contemplation. If you happen to be visiting Bali over this time, it is a very special day to experience.
Perhaps you may be thinking ‘I didn’t really come to Bali to sit inside in silence!’ Yet, we have found that on on our Bali yoga retreat, our guests love this special day and really take advantage of the opportunity to dive a little deeper, embrace a little extra quiet time, and reflect perhaps on why they are there, and what is next to come. We still do gentle respectful activities on retreat on Nyepi such as meditation, flower mandala making, yoga and journaling. Yet we respect the Balinese wishes and remain inside and make little noise. The day of Nyepi often remains a highlight for our retreat guests and we look forward to this day every year.
There are many lessons that we can learn from this Balinese special day. Over the last year or so, new wellness trends including silent retreats, digital detox retreats and mindfulness retreats have become increasingly popular. In essence, Nyepi is a short, 24-hour retreat! It is an opportunity to hit the ‘off’ switch, and reset. Here are a few more lessons that we always takeaway from this special holiday.
A time for reflection
In an age where technology rules and fast-paced lifestyles are heralded as ‘winning’ in life, slowing down and finding pockets of silence are becoming increasingly non-existent. We tend to hoover up those quiet moments that life offers and reach for our phone to entertain us any time there is a red traffic light or you’re in queue at the shops. We have lost the ability to just be. We have become uncomfortable sitting at a table alone in a café or in an airport lounge without a device in hand. Embracing silence and stillness can be downright terrifying for those of us that are on the go 24/7! Yet, it is so beautiful and rewarding when we do. It is when we are quiet, that our greatest realisations come to us. What bubbles up to greet us in these moments may not always be easy, yet this is an opportunity to face what we have been avoiding and to find healing. Inward reflection uncovers our deepest longings and desires for life. Without distraction, we can find out so much about ourselves.
A time for connection
While technology offers us an illusion of connection, we are in fact more disconnected from ourselves than ever before. As a population, we are spending less time on our own than ever before, and that time alone is spent scrolling through other people’s lives on various social platforms. When we take time out for ourselves, we are offered the chance to reconnect to who we really are. Learning how to truly cherish the time we spend on our own, is one of life’s greatest blessings. Perhaps that means a bubble bath, journaling, a walk in nature, a mediation- anything that peels away the outer layers so we can step back towards our soul.
A time for allowing
As we reflect and reconnect, stuff arises. We spend a lot of time avoiding the ‘stuff’ that we push away into the dark recesses of our mind. Busy lives and constant distraction can be used as a way to perpetually avoid the things we would rather not deal with. Allowing what is to simply be, is one of the greatest techniques of mindfulness and meditation. We learn how to let thoughts and feelings come without trying to push them away or change them. We begin to see things for what they are, without all the loaded meaning we may have placed on them. As we allow what is to just be, we can find release, forgiveness and space. This process of allowing is incredibly liberating.
A time for embracing
How often do we feel guilty for just relaxing? With our endless to-do lists always lurking over our shoulder, even taking a five minute tea break can feel uncomfortable! One of the beautiful things about Nyepi is that it forces us to slow down, to relax and to enjoy the simplicity of doing nothing. You are given an invitation to spend the day reading, napping, sitting in the sunshine, taking a bath or meditating. While these things can incite unnecessary guilt in day to day life, Nyepi gives us permission to embrace this time to soothe and tend to our soul. Concepts such as self-care Sundays or solo dates have also gained popularity in the wellness world as we come to realise that these times of gentle nurturing are so good for us – body, mind and soul. We are not designed to be on the go 24/7, and when we spend a day unplugging, we really do return feeling far more revitalized and energized.
A time for honouring
Reflection, connection, allowing, embracing- these all incite a great deal of gratitude within us. Nyepi is a chance to look at all that you have in your life, and to be truly grateful. While other thoughts and emotions may greet us during a day of rest and silence, what we shed light on are the little things that we so often take for granted. We realise how much joy there is in the simple things and our senses open up to the special gifts that life offers us all the time- the warmth of the sun, the aroma of the flowers, the taste of food when it is enjoyed quietly and mindfully instead of wolfed down while at your computer! Slowing down and embracing mindfulness in life is like experiencing life anew. We feel our awareness shift to one of abundance rather than one of lack or competition. This is a beautiful space to be in, and one that we can try to hold onto throughout every day, not just Nyepi.
If you would like to join us on a Bali yoga retreat for Nyepi next year, book ahead now as we often fill quickly. If you would like to create your own day of silence, we encourage you to do so! Embrace a day of solitude or peaceful reflection and experience the power and insights that come with just being.
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