Going beyond the needs of the physical body, or indeed the surface-level tensions and stresses we endure, there are experiences in Bali that enable deep transformation. With a focus on the mind-body connection, these practices aim to recover or enhance one’s mental and emotional state to improve overall well-being.
• Introduction to the mind-body connection
• Experience 1: Hypnotherapy and Somatic Healing
• Experience 2: Floatation and Cold-Hot Therapy
• Experience 3: Breathwork
• Experience 4: Silent Retreat
The Mind-Body Connection
Mental and emotional strains have the ability to impede our everyday lives, yet, despite its importance, few of us are taught what it means to have good ‘mental hygiene’. As a result, we can find ourselves stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, or perhaps adopting negative behavioural patterns. Luckily, there are ways to release such strains and improve our mental fortitude, helping us to regain clarity and lightness of the mind.
For many, certain practices are quickly deemed too esoteric for the ‘modern world’. However, when it comes to the mind, there are still many mysteries, and actually science has begun to prove the benefits of certain disciplines. Even providing new innovations that expand on the age-old practices and beliefs.
Meditation is the best example of this. Once dismissed as a practice for the devout or the ‘woo’, it has found its way into the mainstream, touting a range of real benefits from improving sleep, attention and memory; reducing chronic pain, blood pressure and cortisol secretion (the hormone linked to stress) thus reducing stress-associated issues like heart-disease. These have been backed by both brain scans and biometric data, i.e. science!
Yes, the mind is where many of our woes are found, especially in this day and age. The effects of such ailments extending beyond the confines of our thoughts and feelings, manifesting in real physical ways across our body. The roots of such conditions are not always obvious, and ipso facto, neither are the solutions. Practices like breathwork or somatic healing have provided breakthroughs where more conventional means have not; the data is accumulating, albeit slowly, to prove such cases. But not everyone has the time to wait. For those open to such practices aimed at improving or enhancing the well-being of the mind, these Bali-based businesses provide safe, professional services and experiences to explore these fields further.
Symptoms of the Subconscious
Though relatively under the radar, Maja Healing is one of the island’s most sought-after practices for holistic healing. Utilising a variety of healing modalities, they have been able to attend to an incredibly wide range of ailments experienced by their clients, often coming to them after “trying everything else without any success.”
The professional therapists at Maja Healing provide a range of services from counselling, art therapy, bodywork, shadow work to energy work. However, the bulk of clients come for Holistic Healing Hypnosis, an integrative hypnotherapy approach created by founder Kartika Alexandra, under whom Maja’s hypnotherapists have trained. This is used, alongside other modalities, to treat patients suffering from anxiety and depression, addiction and phobia, grief and blocks, self-esteem or sexual performance — the list goes on.
What’s most intriguing is that often clients may not fully understand their own condition. Root causes can manifest in strange symptoms: digestive issues stemming from compounded stress; undesirable behavioural patterns from deep-rooted negative beliefs; sudden performance anxieties from buried past traumas. Mainstream methods often attend to the symptoms, whilst Maja’s approach reveals often abstract origins of such debilitating issues, even if obscure.
Kartika explains that the root of many problems exist in one’s sub-conscious, and hypnotherapy is a tool to bypass the conscious mind and navigate — together with the client — a deeper layer to identify the true source of an affliction, like a mental detective. Bringing buried or deep-set issues back to the forefront helps to relieve the mind and body of the ‘obstruction’, allowing the mind or body to operate properly again. Bodywork, or somatic healing, works in a similar way, whereby mental or emotional trauma is stored in certain parts of the body, which must be identified and released. This field is best described in the book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’.
Kartika is joined by a wide-ranging team, all personally invited to join Maja Healing; professionals and experts who are passionate about their calling to help others. Their different backgrounds — from behavioural psychologist to sports consultant to osteopath — address the needs of many, with services expanding to energy healing, emotion code and more, depending on the needs of a client. Their goal is that clients will not have to return to see them, with mild cases taking only a single session, deeper cases requiring a few more. At their peaceful centre in the quaint neighbourhood of Umalas, they open their doors to those looking for help, especially when it cannot be found elsewhere.
Darkness and Light
Terapung Float Club in Seminyak presents the cutting edge of wellness experiences in Bali, showcasing the role that different environments can have on our health. In their sleek four-story sanctuary, featuring an interior of black lava bricks, one can disconnect the mind through darkness in their premier floatation suites, or test the limits of the body in their dedicated ice bath and sauna area.
Terapung’s private float rooms are specially designed to restrict environmental stimulation. The idea is to remove light, sound and tactile sensation, causing the mind to stop processing external stimuli and instead rest and introspect. Guests submerge themselves into a large open tank filled with epsom salt, allowing the body to float effortlessly. Slowly the soundproof and temperature-controlled room begins to dim. Floating in silence and darkness the ‘monkey mind’ slows and disconnects. It is the ultimate meditation tool, considered a ‘shortcut’ to meditative states. Meanwhile, one’s body is absorbing the epsom salt, great for muscular recovery, skin and hair care and mood elevation. Total mind-body recovery.
One of the latest additions to Terapung is an area dedicated to their ice bath and sauna, best when used in combination. This hot and cold therapy, also known as ‘conrast therapy’ is the latest in wellness trends, utilising extreme temperatures for a wide-range of both physical and mental health benefits. Jumping in an ice bath is said to aid in muscle recovery, boost the immune system and metabolic health, plus develop mental resistance through the training of your parasympathetic nervous system. Following this is a period in the sauna, which drastically heats up the core body temperature, triggering heat shock proteins that can reduce inflammation of the brain, as well as white blood cells to support immune system, plus other metabolic changes. Importantly, both of these ‘stress stimulus’ practices make you push through what’s termed limbic friction – a type of neurological resistance – developing a higher rate of mental resilience applicable in everyday life.
The centre is also home to a post-float lounge, massage and IV therapies. For the ultimate renewal, Terapung Float Club recommends combining their different services.
Breathing is one of the most underrated ‘in real-time’ tools available to humans. What many consider to be just an unconscious action to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, i.e. respiration, the way we breathe can actually be a tool to not only manage stress and anxiety or encourage positive hormones, it also has the ability to release psychological blocks stored in the body and illicit strong emotional responses.
Before you think this is all mumbo-jumbo, it’s significant to note that this is well researched. Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman of Standford University comments that if our mental state – stress, sadness, anger, happiness – can affect our breathing, then the reverse is also valid. Dr Jack Feldman, Professor of Neurobiology at UCLA, shares of the ‘physiological sigh’, a breathing technique to instantly reduce anxiety. The way we breathe is linked to heart rate variability: longer exhales slows down heart rate, and thus calms us down. Breathing affecting state.
Breathwork is the practice of conscious breathing, often with a desired outcome on our state. There are many types of breathwork, such as Conscious Connected Breathing to Holotropic Breathing. Offering the practice to a wide audience, Desa Potato Head’s wellness programme, Sanctuary, invites participants into their tranquil space for group breathwork. Each session takes you deep into a pranayama, or yogic breathing, experience with licensed practitioners.
Through the 120-minutes of fully conscious breathing using learned techniques, participants experience a range of mental and/or physical reactions, varying from emotional release, euphoria, total relaxation, or even states of ‘flow’. This can paired with Ice Bath Therapy afterwards, putting breathing methods into practice to conquer the cold and challenge one’s mind fortitude.
Sanctuary at Desa Potato Head is also home to Sistrum, a state-of-the-art vibroacoustic audio visual therapy, sound healing, group full moon meditations and more.
Embrace the Silence
Stop for a moment: try to think of the last time you experienced a prolonged period of silence. Like a glistening, starry night sky, silence has being drowned out by our urban way of life: a constant need to be ‘on’. Nestled in the verdant rice fields of Jatiluwih, at the base of Mt. Batukaru in Tabanan, Bali Silent Retreat has created a refuge for those in need of quiet in their lives, be it for a day, a week, a month — however long you need.
This off-grid escape welcomes guests into a 6-hectare sanctuary comprised of rice fields, vegetable and herb gardens, mountain forest, hot springs and river. An immersion into nature within which low-impact lodging and facilities have been provided, including a library, an open Octagon Bale, stargazing beds and more.
The centre is an invitation to truly unplug, with strict rules prohibiting social talking and electronic devices. It’s a total detox from both our busying physical world and perhaps the more dizzying virtual one. This includes other ‘fasting’ too, with no caffeine, alcohol, meat, dairy, chemical or imported goods available on property, following Bali Silent Retreat’s ‘green-to-the-extreme’ eco-principles.
That alone may entice you to escape into the foothills of Batukaru, but experiencing silence, and being silent, is easier said (excuse the pun) than done. In fact we do so much to avoid silence, our minds hungry for stimulation: podcasts when driving, music whilst cooking, even checking social media whilst on Netflix! But noise is pollution, proven to raise our stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. By default, silence does the opposite. There is discomfort at first, as we adjust to an input and output-reduced environment. However the Indian Hindu vow of silence, mouna vratham, touts that the practice develops emotional and verbal control, encouraging self reflection as the reduced input forces us to truly listen to our inner voice. Mental space to process; spring cleaning of the mind.
At Bali Silent Retreat, this temporary vow is eased by their facilities and services. A labyrinth to wander as you ponder, daily meditation and stretching sessions, cultural learning experiences and of course their garden-to-table, organic vegetarian food served all day.