7 Essentials of The Bali Lifestyle (VIDEO)

 

Living a conscious, mindful, simple lifestyle on an the Island of Bali requires a few important essentials:

1.) Rice Paddy View – Check!
2.) Offerings to the “Gods of Bali” – Check!
3.) Abundant Coconut Tree in Garden – Check!
4.) Feng-Shui Coy Fish Pond – Check!
5.) Camera, Laptop, and Journal to document amazing ideas and experiences – Check!
6.) Teva Sandals (A pair for daily use and pair for hiking Volcanoes) – Check!
7.) SPF Sunblock made from consciously produced ingredients – Check!

 

A Hard Day’s Work At Kawah Ijen Volcano (VIDEO)

 

We can all be grateful not to have to carry 200 pounds of reeking sulfur up and down a volcano to make a living. This is the story of Echo and the sulfur miners at Kawah Ijen volcano in Java, Indonesia. For his efforts – two trips up and down the volcano risking injury and severe damage to his lungs, Echo makes $9 a day, which is actually a good wage in Indonesia. It’s a hard days work by any stretch of the imagination, especially in one of the harshest work environments on Earth.

Bali Spirit Festival: Discover Your Truth (VIDEO)

As the clouds and rain descended on Ubud, Bali, the euphoria and anticipation of the first day of Bali Spirit Festival gave way to a soft, gentle, and healing energy.

We felt ready to openly embrace the Divine feminine energy that settled in over the festival. We spent the previous evening mired in miscommunication, weaving ourselves a tangled web of ego driven insensitivities towards one another.

We were in need of positive energy and heart opening from new and old friends.

BaliSpiritFestival, TheIndependants3

In the Alchemy Of Breath workshop we discovered our hearts through the natural ebb and flow of breathing. The movement’s founder Antonio Abbagnano says “The breath heightens sensitivity and connection from the inner world through the body and outward into the cosmos”.

Yoga at Bali Spirit Festival 2014

The best advice for approaching intense breath workshops like this one is to go with an open mind, and open heart. Unlike Asana practice back home which keeps us to our own mat, this workshop brought us together with multiple partners.

My partner on the first round started crying instantly, so I decided to be the emotionally strong one and hold the energetic space for her to do so. I didn’t anticipate the strong emotions that welled up in me as I connected with each new partners eyes and breath. It was almost as if each person represented an aspect of myself and I was just gazing into a mirror. By the fourth or fifth partner emotions were high and I could hear people letting out screams, moans, grunts and tears. I tried to just keep my gaze, attention and breath linked with my partners. When we finished with all of the partners, we were given time to lie on the ground and really feel the emotions and let them out. I sobbed for a while, experiencing an incredible release!

BaliSpiritDay2, TheIndependants

The emotional, physical, and spiritual breakthroughs we experienced at the Alchemy of Breath workshop compelled us to dig deeper. At Bali Spirit Festival, we didn’t have to go far. Strolling through the beautiful festival grounds we came upon the YogaBarn Stage to Nai’a Project’s Transformational Breath workshop. The two hour session had an energizing feel that connected the breath with sacred movement. Nai’a founder Genevieve share her insights “If the mind is getting in the way, the breath alchemizes all”.

Synchronizing breath with ecstatic dance movements gave us a way to release the tension that arose between us the previous evening, and provided some much needed catharsis.

With so many eclectic and remarkable presenters at this festival, we finally realized it had been almost two full days since we’d actually taken a yoga class!

I settled in to a space at the “Bale Up” pavillion, not knowing what to expect.  When Janet Stone walked in, I instantly recognised her from taking one of her workshops at Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree two years prior.

Janet’s Hanuman Flow workshop started with devotional chanting to embrace Hanuman’s masculine energy, but was uniquely accented by her own Divine spirit. She engaged the class with a very mindful and deliberate elegance, and kept the energy and mood of the class light and cheerful. Near the end of class Janet inspired us with her demonstration of Hanumanasana (the splits) and seamlessly flowed into a pretty amazing arm balance.

We finished our second day at Bali Spirit Festival with Gwyn Williams’ An Expanded Heart Connection and Unity. Gwyn created a safe and sacred space for us to connect with new friends. Gwyn uses the power of Qi (life force energy) to connect the body and mind to bring into a place of equilibrium. “Life is energy. Without it nothing moves…nothing rests. Without energy, matter is inanimate. When we see energy we are seeing spirit.” The exchange of Qi with random partners allowed us to let go of any judgements had of ourselves or each other.

Once again we connected with a deeper understanding of our collective oneness. We realized that letting miscommunications and ego get in the way of discovering the Truth was to miss the point. Embracing the Divine feminine energy given to us at the Bali Spirit Festival gave us way to open our hearts, minds, and souls.

Re-imagining The Kora Tradition with SouSou & Maher Cissoko

SousSou&Maher Cissoko In Bali wtih The Independants
In Bali with SouSou & Maher Cissoko

One might assume that a Swedish woman would endure some difficult challenges when trying to integrate with a family of male Senegalese Kora players. Yet, that is exactly what SouSou Cissoko did.

Her husband, Maher Cissoko, is the youngest male in a family of ten, whose pedigree as a Kora player goes back 72 generations. Together they create  wondrous music that connects heart and soul with tradition, in a way that sounds current and relevant in todays fast paced, ever-changing musical landscape.

Precious Gem Hunting in Cambodia (VIDEO)

Get from A to B in Cambodia is not an easy or pleasant experience.

Most of the roads are dirt. Where there is pavement, you’ll find massive potholes – the ones that send a jolt up your spine. This is the kind of place you’re likely to find yourself in a 12 person van wtih 24 other people, sacks of rice, motorbikes, and live chickens (link to first story). Each journey is a test of fortitude, patience, and comfort. But when you do finally arrive at your destination, a wave of euphoria and sense of curiosity rushes over as you realize you’re in a very remote part of the world where anything is possible.

Discovering Ways To Heal, Connect, & Create at Bali Spirit Festival

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  • Rice paddies surround the BSF grounds

    Rice paddies surround the BSF grounds
  • Local yoga teachers Bex Tyrer and Sarah Holland

    Local yoga teachers Bex Tyrer and Sarah Holland

Thanks Yoganonymous for publishing our feature!

“The greatest teacher is within us…the benefits of yoga can be reached when we understand this” says Simon Low, one of the marquee presenters at this years Bali Spirit Festival. His words are refreshing to consider in a place filled with such an eclectic and remarkable mix of healers, musicians, thought leaders, and yoga teachers from all over the world.

Healing Old Wounds Through Circus & Arts

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  • Performers at the Phare Ponleu Selpak Arts School

    Performers at the Phare Ponleu Selpak Arts School
  • Senegalese Performer at Phare, a very diverse group

    Senegalese Performer at Phare, a very diverse group
  • Incredible Acrobats at Phare

    Incredible Acrobats at Phare
  • Break Dancing performers in Battambang

    Break Dancing performers in Battambang
  • Students at the Phare education center

    Students at the Phare education center
  • Acrobats in Training!

    Acrobats in Training!
  • Graphic design program at Phare

    Graphic design program at Phare
  • French musical troupe drops in at Phare to teach Cambodians

    French musical troupe drops in at Phare to teach Cambodians
  • Lil Khmer tikes

    Lil Khmer tikes
  • The Circus Building at Phare

    The Circus Building at Phare
  • Kindergarten

    Kindergarten

We arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia intending to discover the ancient ruins and mysterious temples of Angkor Wat. To our surprise, we also found a modern circus, with an incredible array of talented young Khmer performers, telling the story of their past, present, and future.

Since childhood, I have been inspired by art-forms working with movement of the human body. Dance, gymnastics, acrobatics, martial arts, breakdancing – anything where the body moved in ways that would seem to defy the natural laws of our Earth. Perhaps because I was once told that in a past life I was monk who spent time in seated contemplation – in this life I have a strong desire to be active and be inspired by those who can move their body through space in complete awareness.

Some may call me a dreamer, but I’d like to think I am still an aspiring acrobat. Being a part of the Phare Circus just reignites all of those desires.

The Mindful Journey…Angkor Wat (VIDEO)

It’s hard to describe how beautiful and inspiring Angkor Wat and the temple complex surrounding it really is.

It’s also hard to put into words how incredibly packed with tourists this sacred destination gets during high season. Somehow, we managed to capture several vignettes in this video of the sites’ most popular temples – Bayon, Wat Phrom, and Angkor Wat – with no trace of tourists!

5 Ways To Strengthen Your Connection & Relationship While Traveling

Thanks to our friends at Elephant Journal for publishing our feature!

A few days ago we celebrated one year marking the beginning of our relationship. It was in the hills of northern Cambodia that we realized we’ve spent the last seven months traveling together, never spending more than a few nights in the same place. Living an itinerant lifestyle can make things difficult when it comes to our connection to the Self, the Earth, and our partners. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve discovered that by cultivating thsee practices – chanting, meditation, sun-gazing, earthing, and yoga – we can strengthen our connection and grow our relationship even while traveling.

Should People Ride Elephants? Insights From The Elephant Valley Project, Cambodia

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  • Feeding two captive elephants used for rides, near Mondulkiri, Cambodia

    Feeding two captive elephants used for rides, near Mondulkiri, Cambodia
  • Free to Roam! Ruby and Mae Nang at the Elephant Valley Project

    Free to Roam! Ruby and Mae Nang at the Elephant Valley Project
  • Washing Milot, a female, at the EVP

    Washing Milot, a female, at the EVP
  • They get really dirty, and they like it.

    They get really dirty, and they like it.
  • Get that scratch Ning Wan!

    Get that scratch Ning Wan!
  • Norm, an elephant Mahout, pretending to meditate at the EVP

    Norm, an elephant Mahout, pretending to meditate at the EVP
  • Gee Nowl on the left, has a curved spine, a result of logging and giving tourists rides

    Gee Nowl on the left, has a curved spine, a result of logging and giving tourists rides
  • Again, a curved spine is not healthy for the elephants

    Again, a curved spine is not healthy for the elephants
  • Hen, the lone male at the EVP, still used for logging at his village when not at the EVP

    Hen, the lone male at the EVP, still used for logging at his village when not at the EVP

The question of whether to ride an elephant is one that nearly every traveler to southeast Asia inevitably faces. From Bangkok to Yangon, signs are everywhere offering tourists cheap rides on an elephant’s back, or worse, in a painful wooden saddle.

Some elephants in Cambodia live in captivity, most of which are riding tourists on their backs or hauling massive loads of lumber. With their habitat being whittled away, and increasing demand from tourists, the survival of the Asian Elephant is under threat now more than ever.

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