|My friend, Putu, with Dhanvantari, the Hindu God of Healing|
As a healing practitioner, I am fascinated by Bali's healing traditions (also known as Bali Usadha). I've been living on this little island for four years now and haven't even scratched the surface of this topic. Little by little, I am exploring the methods and practices used by Balinese healers. Some are familiar and some are so far from anything I have ever experienced before. It's definitely inviting me to expand my own ingrained beliefs!
It's not always easy to find traditional healers. Many are tucked away in their villages, only available to the local community. Some accept visits by foreigners, however, may not openly share some of the more mystical or magical components of their practices. I have learned to use my intuition in the process of choosing a healer.
My first visit to a "Balian" (traditional Balinese healer) was shortly after arriving on the island. A friend of mine said I must go see this man. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. When I arrived, he seemed to know what I was there for, even before I said a word. During my treatment, I watched as he gathered flowers, shaved sandalwood, and put the mixture in his mouth to chew on for a bit. He told me to close my eyes and before I realized what was taking place, he had spit the concoction onto my temples and forehead. :) I must say that I didn't mind this at all. There was something very nurturing about this man that gave me a sense of peace. I left there feeling clearer and less disturbed by constant mind chatter. I've visited him several times, each time experiencing something a bit different.
I recall another experience with a healer who uses a more western approach (by diagnosing disease) in combination with practices that he developed on his own. This experience was one that I would only do once! It felt more like a torture session than a healing treatment. When he said his motto was "no pain, no gain," I knew I was probably in for something beyond what I am comfortable with. Two hours later, I left there with huge bruises all over my body, some taking more than two weeks to heal. I was told that these were all the toxins leaving and this is a good thing. Perhaps that is true. I just don't think I would go that route again! Maybe a 7-day cleanse is more my cup of tea. :)
My absolute favorite healer simply uses Divine energy to heal. He doesn't see the need to diagnose or focus on problems (although he is very aware where they may be). He simply connects with Divine Love (my words) and allows the healing energy to flow where it needs to, trusting that it is removing all of the blocks and bringing the body, mind, emotions, and soul back into beautiful harmony. And that is exactly what happens. He then offers suggestions for keeping things flowing, including herbal medicine, natural foods, meditation practices, and mantras.
For the Balinese, seeking out Balians is not something that is openly talked about. Many healers prefer not to use the term "healer" or "Balian." They prefer to simply be known as someone who helps people who are not well. Probably because there are some who use their supernatural connections for harm rather than good. Black magic is what we may refer to it as. I have seen several cases of this and witnessed the removal of the "spells" (again, my own wording) as well. It's quite an ordeal. I'll leave it at that!
Traditional Balinese healing almost always has a deep spiritual component. Karma has a lot to do with it all. Rarely is illness looked at from a purely physical viewpoint. There is an underlying component linked to the unseen world. For the Balinese, the unseen world is as real and alive as the seen. So of course healing will incorporate the spirit world. Mantras, chants, offerings to the gods, ceremonies, and rituals of all sorts are often used. It can feel very magical at times. I have personally seen things happen that cannot be explained by logic.
My journey into Bali Usadha has only touched the outer layers. I hope to learn much more about this ancient wisdom. In no way do I pretend to understand it. What I share is only what comes through my personal filters. It is something to be respected and viewed with an open mind and heart.
This sacred island is experiencing the less-than-desirable effects of tourism at such a rapid pace now. It is so important for all of us to remember to tread lightly here. The roots of Balinese culture deserve to be respected and preserved. I can only hope that I will be able to do my part. It is an honor to be welcomed here.
The words written here are only my personal thoughts and experiences, and in no way represent the viewpoints of the Balinese.