In the sweltering heat of the Ubud hills, I sat three people back and wide eyed at what I was witnessing. The psychic part of me totally dug it, but I won’t lie, there was a (small) cynical facet of my personality that just sat patiently with a wry smile on her face, waiting for the inevitable exposé. It didn’t come and as each woman and then the next, lay down on the altar to subject herself to being poked (hard) with a tiny stick, my world seriously began to spin.
I had come to Bali for a few reasons. I wasn’t just here to host my first yoga retreat and get some much needed me-time away from work and family, I was here to open my wounded heart in the hope of healing it and connecting with my true self again. I had lost my juju somewhere along the line, thanks to successive failed relationships and some disappointing scenarios with friends that had thrown me for a spiritual six. Basically, I wasn’t feeling the love anymore and apparently, Bali was the island of love and lightness, infamous for its ability to awaken peeps to their joy and roll them down the highway to enlightenment as fast as you could say ‘Selamat Pagi.”
So, here we were, sitting on the scarred timber floor of Bali’s most infamous healer, Ketut Liyer, awaiting assessment. My heart sat meekly in my throat as I imagined being unmasked as a mystical fraud; at worst, deserving of communal exile and at best, another wounded healer – and all because I had been carrying so much guilt and sadness for way too long and couldn’t find the courage to face it.
Yep, my Gemini mind had well and truly run away with me.
The first few women in our group escaped relatively unscathed. Sure, he reprimanded them, told them to stop eating crap food, to acknowledge the connection between their trapped emotions and their failing bodies and to basically love and forgive themselves, but even though his words were intense and no doubt pretty confronting for them, every precise truth he uttered, was shared with the utmost gentleness and generosity. He wasn’t there to chastise them, rather, he was there to state the energetic facts as they were showing up and to help them really see themselves, without fear. He was helping them own their stories and creating the space for them to embrace and integrate what comes when one has received deep and powerful healing.
Despite none of us having any exact idea about what he was going do – other than the word of mouth recommendations and what our own gut instincts were telling us – we all just naturally trusted him from the get go. We knew Spirit had our backs.
His ancient voice was low, calm and rhythmic and his movements definitely betrayed his 76 plus years. He knelt beside each woman and passed his hands over their body, stopping at certain parts to explain why they had been feeling sick or how this organ or that joint was degenerating and what emotion it was connected to. He was spot on, every time. With his small medicine stick, he traced patterns on their soles and pressed particular points that evoked immediate and often shocked responses and as the tears ran freely down each woman’s cheeks, I noticed they had started to spill through my own lashes as well. It was incredibly humbling and inspiring to watch this elder diagnose with such accuracy, ease and relentless compassion. As they cried he just held their hand and smiled till they felt the energies subside. The difference in them was immediate and as each got up, bowed to him with gratitude and returned to their cushion, I could feel my adrenals firing.
Yep, I knew I was up for some serious revelations and my ego was freaking the fcuk out.
Fourteen women later and suddenly, it was my turn. I glanced around the group to make sure everyone had been treated and even tried to decline the invitation saying I didn’t really need a healing, but truth was, I was scared as and equally embarrassed at what he would find out. He wouldn’t have it however and gestured for me to come to the platform and lay down. I obeyed of course.
I mean, who’s going to argue with Ketut, master healer of Bali. Years later, Julia Roberts didn’t either!
I closed my eyes and relaxed into the soft mattress beneath me. My brain was racing like a rocket now too and I couldn’t really feel my heartbeat anymore, although I could certainly hear it thumping in my eardrums to the point of distraction. I breathed deeply and tried not to faint. A few moments passed and nothing. Another few and still nothing. Finally, I dared to open my eyes and saw that he was gently touching one end of his stick to various pulse points on my body. The acupuncture nerd in me recognised them immediately. Heart, liver, spleen – yep, all my vulnerable bits and pieces. Kidney, gall bladder, triple heater – all my trigger points. I knew he could see right through me and as much as that was confronting, it was also oddly comforting. I relaxed further and closed my eyes again.
Suddenly he was tapping my feet, tickling both soles and insistently brushing the stick up, down and across them. I just had to look again because even though I could sense where he was, I seriously couldn’t feel much at all and was beginning to feel slightly ripped off! When I did, I was astounded to see that he was almost pressing the stick through my skin, so strongly that in all seriousness, I should have leapt off the floor and yelped in bruised agony. But I didn’t. I just blinked slow motion-like and looked from my foot to his face and back again a few times, receiving the sensations as if they were the lightest of feminine touches. I remember swallowing once and admiring my pink nail polish. That’s pretty much it. There wasn’t even the slightest skerrick of pain.
We looked at each other again and he matter-of-factly said something that has stayed with me forever. It also made me spontaneously burst into tears because simultaneously, I felt my heart explode with love, release and happiness in a way I had only imagined in my wildest dreams.
“There is nothing wrong with you.”
He smiled and then got up and unceremoniously wandered off for a cigarette! I saw a chicken fluff up to follow him and someone said later that it had been sitting by his side the whole time he was treating me.
I couldn’t believe it. After all my worrying, self deprecating inner dialogues, anticipating the worst and fearing that what I most needed to heal was not ever going to eventuate in this lifetime, I had finally landed in my heart – boom! – and by goddess, I felt transformed like never before. I literally felt every cell of my being shift frequency and switch on again. There was nothing wrong with me!
Despite my ego-driven determination to justify to myself that there most certainly was something very wrong with me, there was in fact, nothing out of whack. It was one of the best days of my life and it changed my entire perspective on healing – both as a receiver and as a conduit for others myself.
In the bus back to our resort, everyone stared out the windows in silence, obviously immersed in their own profound experience and processing at a million miles a minute. The remainder of our retreat flowed in the most exquisite of ways and I still believe the gateway for that to manifest, was thanks to the magic that was Ketut.
The moral of this story? Real healing happens when we allow ourselves to drop into our deepest vulnerability and surrender what we think we know and what we hope to receive (and achieve). I truly believe it’s in those sacred, spacious moments, where we really get to meet and merge with the divine.
In those moments, we realise there is absolutely nothing wrong with us.