ON FINDING AN INNER PEACE (IN BALI)
A while ago, when I worked for a model agency in Bali as an Assistant of Image Manager, I often listened to some stories from models, photographers, fashion designers, and Makeup artists about how they ended up in Bali. In addition to the gorgeous beaches, good waves for surfing, some of them mentioned another side of the island: positive energies, creative vibes, and healing power. Those people, who first came for holiday or visiting a friend, then chose to extend their stay permit and be immersed in the good vibes. At that time, I did not really understand about the topic and how they transformed those energies into their creative expressions. Until one day, a friend called me to document his friend’s meditative journey in Bali. I got a glimpse of it.
It was during the final weeks of 2018, as the Christmas Day was approaching when I met Sinta Karolina, a businesswoman and a dancer, possessing a generous smile. She flew away from the ‘Big Durian’ city of Jakarta along with my friend Arga and a spiritual teacher, Monique Hardono from Meditasi Dengan Hati for a few moments of self-balancing.
“I am going to focus on my journey, so you don’t have to interrupt me for a pose. Simply follow my steps and capture what feels good to you,” she gave me a brief after a moment of warm introduction. We started the day trip from a hotel in Ubud early in the morning, heading down to Tegenungan Waterfall as the first destination.
From Tegenungan Waterfall to Tirta Empul to Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), to Lotus Temple, and finally on the rooftop of the hotel, the experience left with me a great feeling that is still fresh in my memory until today. During that time, it was an experience of freedom to shoot without any external pressure and some sort of expectations; I was free to express my view on what she was experiencing and tried to save those moments, feelings and emotions onto pieces of images. Now, it is more than that.
On a lazy afternoon, I spent the day watching some movies on my personal collection. One scene of The Lake House made me hit the pause button and relived Sinta’s journey. “…On your day off, get as far away from this place as you can. Go someplace where you feel most like yourself,” a senior doctor gave advice to Kate Foster (Sandra Bullock). I wondered what Sinta felt and experienced on that day: if she made it or she found what she was looking for.
Those photographs are purely my perception and my point of view. Ah, introvert problem. I might be too tired after a day of photographing, but I did not ask her about the journey, even I did not think about the idea of asking. All I thought of, as far as I could remember, was I wanted to go home as soon as possible because I needed to take care of my dogs: walked them, feed them (It’s around 9pm, by the way, when Sinta did the last meditation). Slow thinking. Shame.
I decided to give her a call and asked if she can share those journey and its effects on her present days. It was already two months after her visit to Bali. And, I am glad that she is happy with my request and writes some lines for me:
It is a journey. Something we all have to go through. It may be different for each person. But, it’s an experience which I believe we need to have, for whatever reason.
In my case, it was various. A friend’s sister, who somehow asked to meet me, ‘read’ me and suggested for me to do ‘melukat’, a spiritual self-purifying ritual in Hindus believe. My meditation teacher, Monique Hardono, advised me to go back to nature... As for me, honestly, I was in an uncertain situation thatI felt the need to just get away and calmed down...
All those things were actually tie in together. I didn’t know what to expect, except I just wanted to go and be in a quiet place. I just wanted to get things off my head and heart; hoped all those bad things and burdens gone and my path would be widely open and I can move forward lightly...
I found peace and witnessed His/Her great power and creation through the beautiful nature of Tegunungan Waterfall. We went there to ‘open’ the energy and came back on the final day as the closure of the spiritual journey in Bali. Every time, I was drifted into serenity, especially when I sat in front of the waterfall and got myself “gone” for a while. I was happy... I smiled...
Some places got me uncomfortable, like when we walked in Tampak Siring area and in Goa Gajah. But, I was told that I had to experience that. I was very disturbed. I cried and could not hold the mix of sad, fear and jittery feelings inside. Also, the sensation on my body, especially the back of my head, that I tried to shake them off but it stayed for a while. I kept on pushing myself to trust my own power and His/Her help. I truly believe we are not alone.
I was also kind of a bit lost and confused while I was ceremonially bathing in Tirta Empul. I was told what to do, but I somehow felt uneasy. I followed the procession accordingly, but I prayed and kept ‘talking’ to the Up Above and told myself that what I was doing is not against my beliefs, but enhanced and deepen my trust to Him/Her.
I had also a troublesome feeling, though I tried to shake it off and kept smiling. My closest one who also took part in the ceremony was angry at me for an unknown reason. It made me even harder to focus and concentrate. But I told myself that it was a test and I had to go through and learned to be on track, let go and focus on my prayer and on Him/Her.
Anyway, this journey got me through a lot of things and helped me understand more about people, expectations, and emotions. They teach me to trust and listen to my inner voice. And the outcome is always ended with one simple word in Bahasa 'ikhlas' (let go). I believe that anything and everything that happened, good or bad, happy or sad, are a test for us to trust the Higher power. Follow your heart. Let go. “Ikhlas”.
Qul huwa Allahu ahadun. Allahu alssamadu. Lam yalid walam yooladu. Walam yakun lahu kufuwan ahadun. (Surah Al-Ikhlaas).
- Sinta Karolina
I read her words slowly as if she was talking to me while we were strolling on the beach before sunset. It also reminded me of my own journey while working onthe photography project Conversation Without A Friend. It is a sure thing that there is a time where our ‘tank’ is full, forcing us to take a few quiet moments to re-connect with ourselves, the universe, and the Higher Power.
It looks like confirming that many things in our lives are connected to each other, I came to a page of Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel while finishing this post:
”See how small you are next to the mountains. Accept what is bigger than you and what you do not understand. The world may appear illogical to you, but it does not follow that it is illogical per se. Our life is not the measure of all things: consider sublime places a reminder of human insignificance and frailty.”