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Meditation – The Balinese daily practice

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The Balinese practice meditation through their daily activities and on daily basis, a yoga practitioner and prominent art connoisseur, Agung Rai, said.

“The elderly spend their days creating offerings and during the act of cutting the coconut leaves, arranging and weaving the leaves to craft an intricate and beautiful offering, their minds stay focused and calm. That’s meditation, a creative meditation,” he said.

“If they lose focus and their minds wander then there is a major possibility that they will unconsciously cut their fingers with the very sharp knife.”

Rai, who founded and manages the majestic Agung Rai Museum of Arts (ARMA), has in the last few years immersed himself in Balinese traditional spirituality.

He imparts his knowledge of the spiritual experience to visitors who enroll in Golden Hour, a guided tour package in which Agung Rai takes the visitors on an early morning trip to beautiful paddy fields and villages around Ubud, then proceeds to go back to the museum.

“Most Balinese are not even aware that what they are doing is actually a creative meditation. We should introduce and promote this to the world,” he said.

Rai pointed out that the way a Balinese farmer manipulates his breath and measure his movements when he is hoeing the muddy soil of his rice field is clearly a form of yoga.

“And how about the Balinese women who carry tall offerings on their heads and walk with them all the way to the temple? Imagine those women’s power of concentration, as well as their agile and balanced physical fitness,” he stressed.

Another example is in the way the Balinese play the traditional gamelan ensemble. Balinese learn to play gamelan when they are still children.

During this training they learn to focus and at the same time to let go, to be aware of every single note coming from their respective instruments and at the same time embrace the whole melody produced by the entire troupe.

“Meditation is essentially a method to train the eyes to see, the heart to feel and the ear to listen to the sound made by the flowing water or the chirping of the birds. In Bali, we have been trained to do so since our childhood.”

Rai said that older generation of Balinese must inform and educate the younger generation about this local wisdom and teaching.

A similar sentiment was echoed by famed healer and founder of Kundalini Yoga Tantra, Ketut Arsana.

He said that the Balinese traditional way of life had strengthened the spiritual aura of the island.

“It is this spiritual aura, this vibration of calming tranquility, that has drawn so many people to visit this island. Many people learn meditation and yoga in India, but eventually they will find their way to this island,” he said.

Arsana pointed out that Balinese Hindu major religious ceremonies had played a vital part in sustaining the island’s aura.

The ceremonies, he claimed, were the medium in which Balinese people focused the collective power of their yoga.

“In the ceremonies, the Balinese perform yoga through three methods: through sacred symbols, through physical activity and through recitation of mantra.”

— Muliarta – Bali Daily