a travel and yoga blog

Eat Pray Love or why it is not always useful to meet a Balinese healer

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Sure, the name of the Balinese Brahman was not Ketut but somehow different. I forgot the name, as I’d rather forget the whole story. I had read Eat Pray Love long before I went to Bali with a friend of mine for five weeks. I love Bali and could spend months there. This time I had come for an Aryuveda treatment. As almost every woman (are there actually also some guys out there who read that book?) I found the book very inspiring. And which woman between the age of thirty and forty wouldn’t envy the protagonist for the consistent realization of her wishes and needs?

We had spent almost three weeks full of privation with only vegetarian food, herb tablets and ghee when our yoga teacher told us about someone he knew: an old man, around eighty years old, who was familiar with the secrets of the Balinese art of healing and dealing with the health problems of people against some change. Many years ago he had inherited a book, which has been owned by his family for a long time, from which he had gotten this knowledge. My pendulum dowsing friend was immediately thrilled, and since I had read the book Eat Pray Love I was a little bit curious. I can’t deny that I am rather skeptical about things that don’t appear rational to me (including pendulum dowsing). Besides that I was a bit apprehensive. One would have to expect the worst in such situations after all, for example the message “Tomorrow you’ll be dead”. Our curiosity was growing, and so our yoga teacher took us to the Brahman’s house.

In a balé, where pillows were spread all over the floor and which was open to all sides, a patient was lying who was obviously suffering from kidney problems and received advice for cure – all this in public! Lucky enough, there was no other patient waiting behind us. This is what I thought before the treatment, as probably every Western patient thinks the same, and this is what I was still thinking afterwards, but then because I was happy that there weren’t any further people involved. Anyhow, my pendulum dowsing friend was called in first. The Brahman sat behind her and started to palpate her head with experienced grips. After that she was to lie down and the man started to press on her toes with little sticks. He continued until she screamed out loud. Ouch. Another scream. Ouch. Perhaps I should add that we had been familiar with this type of foot reflexology massage from a different Balinese yoga teacher, so that we were not really surprised. We had learnt that aching points at the toes represented body problems of all sorts. It turned out later on that she had also been taught by this old man.

I will not make my friend’s diagnosis known here, except that everything was ok in general. Thereafter the healer showed her an exercise similar to the lion in yoga, only that she ought to do it in front of a mirror. They were joking, laughing, giggling, and after endless 45 minutes it was finally my turn.

My heart was pounding while my head was being examined. It took about a minute. I had to lie down, was palpated and took a punishing with sticks, which lasted about two minutes. It stopped. I opened my eyes to look up, saw the Brahman who had paused and noticed that he had tears in his eyes. Who wouldn’t have been deeply irritated in such a situation? He went on to treat me with the sticks, while he was talking about something with the yoga teacher in a foreign language I couldn’t understand. With an empty gaze at my friend I saw that her face was horror-stricken. Eyes wide open, mouth slightly opened, she stared at me in speechless panic. Well, I thought, what was I actually thinking? I think it was something like ‘What’s the point anyway?’ ‘Can somebody tell me what’s going on?’

After a while I heard him mumbling an excuse while he was crying his eyes out. He couldn’t go on like that. He attempted to comfort me by saying I shouldn’t worry, all my internal organs were healthy. But why the hell was the man crying then? I might have a little problem with my back which he also noticed, but should this be bad enough to drive an old man into despair?

The whole thing took about ten minutes. I stood up; my friend took me in her arms and told me she had actually expected some announcement of death. I asked the yoga teacher what this was all about and what they were talking about, but I didn’t get a reply, except the remark that the healer was very sensitive. Oh, I see.

So I was left behind clueless and have worried my brain ever since that day. What is left today is a nice little anecdote and the hope that the old man merely had a bad day. And besides that, I am so very rational!  My brain tells me that all this all just utter nonsense, isn’t it?


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