Hafiz had it right

I was searching for words this morning. I am a writer, I told myself. There are words for this. Then I asked myself, What is the ‘this’ I am trying to describe? From somewhere subconscious I recalled a poem. I did not remember the author or even the words, but I thought perhaps Rumi, or Hafiz. It took only a few moments of communing with Google to find it. Ahhh. Hafiz. Here is the poem:

I Have Learned So Much




So much from God

That I can no longer



A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,

a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself

With me

That I can no longer call myself

A man, a woman, an angel,

Or even a pure


Love has

Befriended Hafiz so completely

It has turned to ash

And freed


Of every concept and image

my mind has ever known.

From: ‘The Gift’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Isn’t it beautiful that love is the friend that freed Hafiz from every concept and image his mind had ever known? As I sat with that thought it became clear that love is the only thing that will ever free us. To love others is to accept them in all the ways they are different freeing ourselves from judgement. To love the earth is to protect and care for her freeing ourselves from the consequences of her demise. To love oneself is the ultimate freedom for out of that love comes the capacity for all other love.

The past few days my journey has been inward. The name of this village is Ubud. It means medicine. The essence of Ubud is fundamentally healing to the body, the mind, and the spirit. I have asked myself, why is this so? Is it about the thousands of offerings made daily? The scent of incense ever-present in the air? The constant rituals and ceremonies performed specifically to maintain balance in the spiritual realm? Every day hundreds of tourists parade the streets of Ubud. Every day another rice paddy is drained to make way for a new resort or villa funded by money from the West. But inside the walled compounds of Balinese family homes, life goes on as it has for two thousand years. These people have a way of accepting the new, adjusting to accommodate change, but remaining virtually unchanged themselves. They do this with a self-possessed dignity that defies explanation.

I don’t know the answer to my question. All my life I have believed that everywhere was basically the same as everywhere else. I have traveled and visited amazing countries. I have seen works of art and architecture that left me breathless. I have met wonderful people who genuinely cared for me.  Yet nowhere else has a place whispered to my heart entreating me to stay, to learn, to just be.

Obedient Slave

There’s only one drawback to traveling alone…it’s a little tougher to get photos of yourself! But I am here…really I am!

One of the first things we talk about in my Writing for Self-Discovery Classes is the importance of listening to your body. Way too often the mind runs the show, deciding where to go, what to do and when to do it without ever consulting the body. The body, obedient slave that it is, goes along and goes along and goes along until one day it has enough. The ONLY way the body can get the mind’s attention is to get sick. Suddenly the show stops and the mind is 100% focused on the body.

We aren’t used to consulting our bodies. So much illness could be avoided if we listened to body promptings. And I’m the world’s worst! So, the purpose of this trip, along with working on my novel, is to teach myself to slow down, be present, and pay close attention to my body.

On Friday my mind said, “Oh! Yoga is perfect for slowing down and becoming mindful of your body.” So I dragged my body through 90 degree F temps and equally high humidity the 15 minute walk to the Yoga Barn. The Level One class was not easy, but it was do-able.

This is the entrance to the second floor studio at the Yoga Barn. Whisper Zone. Those are the cleaned and drying orange yoga mats hanging on the railing.

Bing took a better photo of the inside than I did, so the Bing Search Engine gets credit for this one! It’s a huge, beautiful space, wide open to the outside. There are bamboo shades that can be rolled down in case of winds or intense sun. Just being there makes me feel uber healthy and fit!

When you’re flat on your back in my personal favorite, Corpse Pose, this view of the ceiling is equally as amazing as the rest of the space. Our yogini was a petite Indian woman with a big personality. She cracked jokes a mile a minute, some of them I got, some of them I knew were jokes because she was personally very amused. After a sweaty hour and a half I once again hauled my overheated body along narrow roads with no sidewalks where scooters, cars and trucks were zinging around curves and honking frightfully at the lone pedestrian.

But I made it and was rewarded by the sweet refrigerated air of Pertenin Spa. My mind knew that a massage is a perfect way to relax and unwind tired muscles. Wayan, woman with magic hands, was there to greet me. I climbed the curving staircase to the most exquisite chamber where soft music and exotic scents welcomed me.

An hour later, oiled and kneaded to a fine rag-doll finish, I hit the streets again, passing a monkey so close to me her hair brushed the side of my leg. She continued on, up the steps to a women’s dress shop where she looked longingly in the window, her little hands pressed against the glass. The door was open, she could have gone in. But exercising incredible restraint she allowed herself only to admire from afar.

I trudged in greasy slowness back to my room, showered, and headed out to Cafe Kebun for a little something. It’s a hoppin’ place on Hanoman Street and there were no free tables. My server lead me to one occupied by 4 women and an empty chair. I took the chair. Two were from Australia, one was from Delaware, and one from Toronto. We talked for a couple of hours. It was 9:30 when I got back to my sweet room. At 3 a.m. I awoke with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose. Uh-oh. I shook 2 packets of Emergen-C into my water bottle and drank it down. Better. Then went back to sleep.

Morning dawned, snot dripping down my upper lip. Body has gotten my attention. Then mind made a very astute decision: we (my body and me) will rest as long as we need to. Of course body was all the while screaming, “Don’t you dare try to take me anywhere until I’m good and ready to go!”

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