Memories from Bali


“Marysia, you won’t get cold here, that’s for sure!” That’s what I thought as I felt a blast of hot air on my face when getting off the plane at the Denspasar airport in Bali.

While still on the plane, having a vivid memory of the Polish winter, I could see in my imagination people walking on the beach soaking in the afternoon sun, and at that moment I already knew that setting up an away retreat in Bali was a great idea. Creating an opportunity to show all the Asian treasures that me and Michael discovered over the last years to a group of Polish participants seemed like a really exciting thing.

Organizing a retreat in a far-off country is always a huge challenge. On the one hand, it is necessary to prepare the dive-deep substantive part of the workshop. Despite the fact that the workshop is run by two experienced coaches who every day of the workshop prepare and speak about the program themes, each edition of the retreat requires rethinking and redefining the content in regard to a particular group of participants. Especially, if the workshop touches on very deep issues of their lives, such as internal blockages or realization of dreams and plans that have been put aside for years.

Memories from Bali

On the other hand, the “extra-curricular” part of the retreat, that is, providing tasty meals, showing around places to see breathtaking views, and above all, providing participants with high quality care and ensuring safety. In the case of a retreat in a far-off land, it is of great importance for us to make everyone feel that they are in good hands, so that they can focus entirely on absorbing new knowledge, observing changes, enjoying the journey into their inner world and – last but not least – exploring the paradise island.

For me, taking participants on a journey through this edenic surroundings, or “the outer world”, so to speak, wasn’t at all an easy ride. Which places to pick from a long list of must-sees of Bali, all of which have been carefully selected after a long research, including recces of non-touristy places and conversations with the locals about the hidden treasures of Bali, the inaccessible and less known places, all of which have a special place in my heart? To choose a particular attraction over a different one was a difficult task, but I think that we finally realized which of the activities and opportunities we should go for.

The activity which I was particularly fond of was a walk through the rice fields. Not exactly sophisticated activity, simply strolling among the abundance of greenery, slightly larger than what we have got used to here.

Memories from Bali 1

I knew, however, that there’s some incredible energy in this place, not comparable to any other in Bali, and I really wanted everyone to experience it as I was certain that it would have a huge impact on the process of change that the participants were to go through during the retreat. I know what I’m talking about as I have found myself go through such process many times in my life.

When I’m there and see all the vastness of green paddy fields (in the most beautiful shade of green I have ever seen) extending towards the horizon, I feel hope and start to believe that you can always start over again. The softness and greenery of the rice paddies make you think that no matter how small or fragile life is, it can flourish, if you only let it. You are amazed by the vast fields of grass, which together with the silence interrupted only by the chirping crickets and croaking frogs, create an ambient where you can really relish in the beauty of nature… and life.

Memories from Bali 2

It’s impossible to describe all what we have seen and experienced during “Insight in Bali” retreats. Morning meditations with Sandra and Michael, accompanied by the singing of birds nearby and the glow of the rising sun; meals so exquisite that participants wouldn’t try without photographing first and asking what they were made of; a relaxing yoga session conducted by a yogin who has practiced and loved this discipline since she was a child, just to name a few of them. We also had the opportunity to listen to the soothing sounds of Tibetan gongs. Some of them were really huge, and the depth of their sound moved every particle of my body. However, there was no place for relaxation like the beach. Warm ocean water, music playing in the background, sun setting over the horizon and refreshing drinks. Could you ask for anything more?

Memories from Bali 3

And off we went to the jungle. A real, vine, thick, wild, lush, deep green jungle. If it wasn’t for a trusted guide we had there, I would no way cut through this thicket or eagerly cross water obstacles. We had to have our eyes wide open all the time and cock our ears to get to know the exotic nature, which we remembered having been told about back in the old school days.

The highlight was when Aneta said: “I’m jumping in” . A moment later, I saw her in a large pool down a dozen-or-so-meter waterfall, taking a selfie with young Indonesian guys who, just like her, decided to take the opportunity to cool down in crystal clear water. As you might expect, Aneta was quickly joined by other participants, and yes, our group, from being mere observers of natural attractions, became an attraction in itself. The Balinese folks are very much fond of white coloured people and are always happy to take pictures with them.

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You may think that the organization of such a retreat in a far-off land is a piece of cake and nothing but fun. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, it takes a lot of hard work, organization skills, resistance to stress, and sometimes many sleepless nights. Every minute of the retreat must be thought through and planned to the smallest details, the people we work with – verified in every respect, dishes we serve – tried and approved (okay, this part is not so hard :)). We are also responsible for preparing a wide range of free time and leisure activities (e.g. massages, volcano trekking, dolphin watching). Not to mention Villa Gaia itself, our home base for the time of the retreat. It is a glamorous, beautifully lit house, with a cosy atmosphere and good energy.

Memories from Bali 5
Memories from Bali 6

As a result of all these meticulous efforts, we managed to find spots we fell in love with, people we can trust and let take care of us, and above all, inner peace and a sense of security that nothing will rain on our parade. Well, almost nothing. We haven’t managed to come to terms with the torrential rains yet – their representative apparently doesn’t speak English :) Although we can’t complain about this bit either – there has been not a single downpour during any of our retreats so far. It’s a pity, really, for our participants because it is also a great attraction to see such a tropical rain.

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That’s almost all that I wanted to tell you about my memories from Bali, but I have not yet written the most important thing. All that I’ve mentioned – nature, food, people, culture, sightseeing – are just a small part of this adventure. The real journey takes place during the workshop activities, and I am talking about going to places in ourselves that sometimes seem so close and accessible but at other times so distant and vague. Dreams and plans, grief and sadness that have been buried over the years become sort of distant lands, where not even the bravest globetrotters would set foot. It is during the workshop that you go deep inside yourself and discover the most important aspects of your life. However, this is a topic for a separate article…

Let me close my eyes now and go in my head far away to the place where I feel that I have everything I need. I can see rice paddies extending to the horizon, sunsets and a V-formation of white birds returning to their favorite palm tree, where they will sleep through another cloudless night. If I try very hard, I can even feel the warm breath of air on my face. Today it is what I miss about Bali the most.

If you feel like joining our next trip to Bali, click on the link below and check out more information on the retreat: Discover the “Insight in Bali”.

Maria, who has been associated with Life Architect since its inception, co-runs "Insight in Bali" Retreat and assists participants during this far away trip to Asia as their group leader. In addition, she practices and teaches yoga, she particularly loves giving yoga classes on the magical island of Bali.

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