The magic of Bali continued through my second day in Ubud, bringing me to tears by the end of it, wondering “is it too good to be true?”
In the morning Kylie and I check out the Monkey Forest, which — as the name suggests — is chock-full of monkeys, a popular Ubud tourist attraction. And it doesn’t disappoint: monkeys everywhere, walking right up to you. We hold on tightly to our belongings, as we’ve heard how monkeys will steal anything: hats, expensive Prada sunglasses, food, etc. The lushness of the forest is also beautiful, as are the ancient temples within. As we’re about to leave, a little monkey runs up to me, attracted to my bag, probably looking for food. I freeze, trying to stay calm so he doesn’t bite or scratch me. He gingerly crawls up my leg, grabs onto my shirt, up my shoulder, around my head, coming face to face with me, almost kissing me. I’m laughing and freaking out inside and Kylie is there, laughing too and capturing it all with her camera. Priceless. He eventually climbs down and I walk away without a scratch. Total magic.
Afterward we try out Kafe, a delicious vegan spot with things like Fern Tip Quinoa Salad (amazing), Gluten Free Banana Pancakes, and Raw Carrot Currant Cake. We venture to the market, which is overwhelming, amazing, and somewhat heartbreaking all at once. It’s totally saturated with vendors, selling cheap clothes and souvenirs, everyone urging you to check out their wares and buy something for “good luck.” We spend hours there and finally leave without buying much at all, overwhelmed by too many options and somewhat saddened by the desperation in the air. Bartering becomes like a game, but I realize later that the few dollars we’re arguing over is really nothing to me and goes a long way for a local.
Fern Tip Quinoa Salad at Kafe
Later I go to Yoga Barn, one of the most popular yoga places in Ubud, tucked away in the green lushness with a raised, open-air studio like a giant treehouse. They have one free Community Yoga class every evening, so I do that, which happens to be at sunset. I find myself in Warrior Two, working up a delicious sweat, overlooking the greenery, the sun setting, birds flying around the trees. It’s one of those moments I wish I could capture somehow and share with my loved ones, knowing it’s impossible, bringing me to tears with the magnificence.
View from Yoga Barn
After, I stay for Ecstatic Dance, which is basically at least fifty-or-so people freestyle, sober dancing to thumping music for two hours in the same open-air room. I’m weeping by the third song, which happens to me a lot during this type of intense dance, similar to 5 Rhythms which I loved in NYC. There’s something about movement that is so meditative and cathartic; it releases stuff that journaling and seated meditation cannot. So I’m crying with joy, so grateful to be here in Bali, in Ubud, surrounded by people — mostly expats — I don’t even know, yet do know because it takes a certain mindset — openness, generosity, love, adventurousness — to be there (both in Ubud and at Ecstatic Dance). It’s really surreal and I’m pinching myself.
It’s almost…too good to be true?! There it is again…that worry, that self-sabatoging monkey-mind that takes me out of the magical present moment and into fear. The ego cautions: “this’ll never work” “you won’t make it here and you’ll have to go home soon.” I’m becoming better and better at working through these fears. As my coach Cora says to me after I list out all of my worries and worst-case-scenario plots:
“Nothing brings up our fears more than living our dream life.”
Wow, yes. The ego / survival mind is going crazy right now as I’m venturing into unknown territory. It would love nothing more than me to return to the US where it’s familiar and known. Its intention is sweet: to keep me safe and alive, but it’s a misunderstanding: the new is rarely life-threatening and merely something to learn and figure out. So rather than scold the ego and stress out about worrying, I tell her: “Thank you so much for caring enough to want to protect me. It’s not needed now, though; you can rest.” It helps for a moment until it pops up again without permission. It’s a muscle to work and practice and probably also something to just get used to. I use my other tactic: focus on the best-case-scenario: I travel the world, eat and make the most delicious food, share my knowledge of healthy-cooking and true wellness with resorts, restaurants, and people along the way (and back home with the magic of Skype), and help others do what I’m doing to leap into their dreams and desires and fears — whatever that is for them.