Morning reflection

Spending a month in Bali this past August was a gift of time to myself. I was to spend a whole month relaxing, exploring, slowing down and most importantly painting and creating with a group of beautiful women on the Sacred marks retreat with my wonderful friend Tracy Verdugo.From the first morning, when I woke up to the sounds of nature and water running from the Buddha fountain, I knew my time in beautiful Bali would unfold and flow effortlessly.

Since returning home to my own little piece of paradise in Spain, I’ve been reflecting a lot on this magical trip and the wonderful practices I took time to invite into my life. I’d love to share six things (and there are many more!) that I observed about life in Bali.

#1 Wake up early and make time for quiet moments


The beauty of light

Every morning during my stay in Bali, I woke up just as the sun was rising. I noticed that the Balinese were all early risers. Near where I was staying there was always someone out in the garden, sweeping, weeding and taking a quiet moment to themselves to be happy as they started their day. I stood many mornings watching one of the local girls as she glided around her garden, gracefully picking up fallen leaves with a contented smile on her face.

One day a wave of calmness and tranquility came over me as I observed the girl gathering flowers to float in the fountain, her gentle walk was almost meditative.

What quiet, contemplative moment would you like to introduce to your morning?

#2 Positive intentions



Offerings at the end of our street

The Balinese are fully dedicated to their morning ritual of placing offerings on the street, in temples and outside their homes or businesses. Throughout the day women spend hours creating little baskets from banana leaves and gathering petals and lighting incense so every morning everyone and everything can be blessed. As I walked the streets, every now and then I’d catch the faint aroma from these little parcels full of positive intention. There’s so much beauty in these simple and meaningful creations.

One morning I was lucky enough to see a traditionally-dressed Balinese lady lay one of these offerings down on the ground. Her gracefulness, focus and intention was incredibly moving and inspiring.

What morning ritual do you have to help you set your intentions for the day?

#3 Go barefoot


Barefoot adventures around town

Walking barefoot on the earth or sand is proven to have huge health benefits. One of my favourite quotes is “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet” by Thích Nhất Hạnh. I interpret this simply as walk with slow intention and feeling. When you watch a Balinese person walk barefoot, you see how the art of walking is a mindful process. Every part of their foot touches the ground; every part is connected to the earth.

One of the customs that I loved was the simple act of taking off your flipflops when you walk into a shop or someone’s home – it’s something we rarely do now in our western world.

Where can you go barefoot to connect to the earth’s energy?

#4 Smile, live simply and beautifully


Fallen beauties from the trees

Everyone in Bali smiled. All of the time. I felt like the whole island was one big beautiful smile. Everything the Balinese do, they do with a smile. Many people are very poor, but the richness of their existence is evident in the way they approach everything in their day. From the well-blessed offerings in the morning to banana leaf cocktail sculptures in the evening.

Special little touches such as washing your feet in a water bowl full of frangipani flowers, putting flowers under the massage table so that you have something pretty to look at while you relax and placing petals shaped like hearts in the bathroom, come with positive intention and meaning. It’s done simply to make you smile. What’s more, the words “thank you”, with palms placed together (as in a prayer) and a gentle smile and nod, were said often and always meant from the heart.

What simple day to day activities can you make more beautiful?

#5 Cook and connect


Our creative community connecting through the energy of food

In many countries, you usually find a community of women at the heart of the home – the kitchen. We spent a glorious morning in the outdoor kitchen of the local cooking school, where Irma showed us how to make yummy local recipes such as chicken satay with homemade peanut sauce, spring rolls, fish wrapped in banana leaf and lots more. Every ingredient was locally sourced and fresh. Each dish was made completely from scratch. As we sliced, diced, chopped and grinded away, I felt the connection and energy of cooking in the kitchen with a group of women.

Making time to prepare fresh meals is vital for our health and this class really reminded me how spending time connecting with others to build a strong community is one of our strongest life lines, it feeds the soul.

Who would you like to connect with over a soulful meal?

#6 Be creative


In my element painting by the pool, fully present in the moment {photo by Tracy Verdugo}

Making time to ‘just be’ in this beautiful place and get into a creative zone was the ultimate gift to myself as an artist. It was a reminder that taking a whole day, weekend or even a week to focus on painting and creating and nothing else is something I rarely do. The biggest lesson I took from my month away was to make time to let my creative energy flow freely for extended periods of time and not ‘fit it in’ between work, to do lists or projects that have me glued to the computer. Creativity and art is something I’ve promised myself I’ll make more time for.

Being in this wonderful place enabled me to reflect on what I believe to be the philosophies of leading a good life – and these things can be practiced no matter where you are in the world. I pledge to continue to make time for all of these important things, and more…

What do you pledge to make time for?