There is a line in the movie Eat, Pray, Love that is repeated twice that says, “Everyone has a little love affair in Bali.” I found this to be true for me in my two month experience in Bali, except that my love affair was with myself. It has been a bit of a rocky start but I am starting to see glimmers of the honeymoon stage approaching.
Many of my friends, family and followers probably see my photos and think, “wow, I am so jealous of April, she is having such an amazing experience traveling the world!” Yes, this is absolutely true and I feel incredibly blessed for this experience, but traveling alone also has many difficult and lonely times. And there’s really no way to prepare yourself or predict how it is going to feel. Aside from the month I spent in India doing my first yoga teacher training, this is my first experience traveling alone, and most of that trip was spent in the ashram with my kula. I have always been independent and enjoyed spending time alone, but this is a whole different story. And not only is this my first real experience of traveling alone, but also my first time being single in many years. I am used to always having a partner, a best friend to share meals with, to talk with about my day, to support and comfort me when things are difficult. I have not had the “luxury” of keeping myself busy to distract myself from my feelings during my time in Bali as I have suddenly found myself with more downtime than I have ever had in my adult life. There is no escape, no other choice but to allow myself to feel. I have observed myself pretending like everything is okay, but I am slowly learning to just allow the emotions to be there and to come out when they need to. Allowing myself to cry when I am sad or lonely. Acknowledging my fear and self-judgements without pushing them aside. Remembering that I am a human and I am not perfect, and it is okay to have ups and downs.
Bali has a magical energy and I have definitely felt connected in a deeper way since I’ve been here. There was the voice I heard telling me I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And the dream I had where I communicated with my dog and the same day got an email from my mom telling me that Audri was sad the day before but back to her perky self the day following my dream. My dreams in general since I’ve been in Bali have been extremely vivid and I seem to remember my dreams every single day which is not normal for me. People from my past that I haven’t thought about in many years, as far back as middle school and high school, have been appearing in my dreams. Mostly though, Bali has been a gigantic mirror for me, reflecting back to me the destructive thoughts and judgements I have directed toward myself for many years.
I am learning how to be alone and be okay with it. To eat meals alone, to sometimes spend days where the only person I speak to is the person serving my meals. I am also learning that being alone doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. Traveling alone means that I have the freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it. It encourages me to talk to others more, to make connections that I probably wouldn’t if I was traveling with a friend or a partner. During my six weeks at Bali Silent Retreat, I was blessed to grow very close with one of the other yoga instructors. We are very much alike in many ways, bonded from our very first meeting and spent many hours chatting and laughing. We supported and held each other through the difficult moments and I know I have made a lifelong friend. She has been traveling alone for almost two years and offered me so much insight and comfort about everything I have been feeling. She has told me multiple times, “romance your spirit!” and slowly but surely, I am learning to do just that.
I was listening to my Abraham meditation this morning and they reminded me that, “sometimes it seems like others have the power to negatively affect your experience but that is never true. Only your response to them has the power to pinch you off from the naturally good feeling person that you are.” This love affair with myself is a lifelong journey. It’s a relationship that I have always had but not always prioritized. But I have the power to choose, or not to choose happiness in each and every moment and my hope is that throughout the next couple years, even in the difficult and lonely times, I will give myself the gift of choosing happiness.