Let me preface by saying I'm not a very emotional person, I cry maybe twice a year. On this blissful day in March 2020, as tears came rolling down my face, I felt right crying in this moment. My BFF (Nadia) and I had just wrapped the final day of our Bali Retreat we had been planning for over a year. Mestre Xuxo had just recited a self written poem he wrote about Nadia and the experience he felt during the retreat. I looked around to see the expression on everyone's faces. Can I just take in this feeling, this energy, this beauty, this place, it's EVERYTHING right now. You know how in yoga they often tell you "to live in the moment" and not worry about what happened before class and what you are going to do after class. But in actuality it's often impossible not to let your mind run wild. Well, in this moment I was truly just living in the moment. It was an indescribable feeling of freedom. It was one of those moments that you just know you are going to remember forever. The energy in that Yoga Shala was magic - it was as if some divine spirit had put us in just the right place at the right time. We were meant for this.
After this spiritual existential enlightened moment came to an end as we all hugged it out, I eventually returned to my mobile phone which had a slew of texts regarding corona virus fears. The texts went something like this: "I heard from a friend of a friend who works for the national guard who heard that the President might declare the The Stafford Act in the next 48-72 hours which would put the whole country on lock down..." Needless to say everyday after a blissful day in the Bali Jungle we would return to our phones to hear our family and friends reacting to the fear mongering media reports. It was a confusing time. We were in such a peaceful beautiful place surrounded by nature and the rest of the world outside of our retreat center seemed to be in turmoil. Do we stay in our blissful bubble or return home to join the virus fear game. The fear alone is enough to want to get back to your family, but the journey to get back home was the scariest part to face!
Let's back track a little... We started planning this retreat over a year ago. The 16 spots sold out within a week of putting them on sale. None of us knew that the state of the World would be in such uncertain times when the date to head to Bali finally came. The day we headed across the pond was March 7, the Corona Virus scare was still mild at the time. It was enough to get a few worried family and friends suggesting not to go, but not enough to cancel the trip. After all, we are not the meek at heart and we like living life on the edge. Nevertheless, threat level midnight got more serial as the trip progressed (Anyone watch The Office? Michael Scarn? - if not sorry for the inside joke).
In Bali, we were tucked away in jungle oasis that felt so far removed from the chaos. It was our safe haven where we could be ourselves, move freely, and enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors. The serene surroundings made the tumultuous journey to get there all worth it. Our days started with a group breakfast where we all chatted about our adventures from the night before and exchanged our jet lagged stories. Each day usually had two movement sessions where we learned to glide, roll, cartwheel, handstand, and more including an eclectic series of b-boy-ish moves like one of our favs named the homer simpson.
Some of the days included group outings - like our adventure to the Sacred Monkey Forest where Lux ATL got groped by a monkey. (highlight of the trip)
After a week of our shared experiences bro-ing out with monkeys, dancing our hearts out, and butt selfies by the pool it was safe to say we were all BFF's by the end. Months later we still chat it up on our group whats app thread. It was a trip we will never forget. Right before the World changed forever. In true slut sister fashion - we made sure to go out with a bang - with rounds of Rainbow shots at our closing party (& 4 bottles of Tequila).
This trip really increased my capacity for human compassion in so many ways. When the retreat was over, we had a couple days to decompress. On one of those days Nadia and Mestre Xuxo found a very sickly blind Kitten abandoned in the jungle. They brought the Kitten back and cleaned him up, took him to the Vet, and paid for him to stay at the Vet for several days until he was healthy enough to live at a Kitty Sanctuary. They named the Blind Cat Misterio and the Vet has been sending us updates on his road to recovery. Saving that Little Kitty was the silver lining of the whole trip, it melted my heart and gave me so much hope for humanity.
In closing, I'd like to share Mestre Xuxo's poem that he wrote for Nadia on the last day of the retreat:
Moving around , playing up and down flipping , kicking
Shanking hands .
Everything happens on a blink of eye .
The conversation of different bodies
In one small circle, create a beautiful and unique Poetry
Sounds of the nature is playing
Goosebumps is coming up
The energy is so high
That even the ancestral
Creators of that world
Is coming to see that moment
Through dance, music and movement
We entered in a new world
The eyes around fill up
Tears , love and joy
Takes over their heart
Words are not longer enough
To express that feeling
I wanna play , no. I wanna make history with you .
Right here . That’s I our moment
This is art which was born to free people’s mind and soul.
After many years of pain, blood, frustrations and discrimination,
A new art form has being Born.
The art of movement !
This is a art that can change your life
This art will teach you how to fall
How to stand up , how to face your fears and to protect someone against the falls of life
All that is napping inside of that simple circle of life ，the dance floor !
We are not alone
There are eyes around
And they Can’t stop look at us
The claps brings the fire, the voices brings
Wind , the wind blows our mind
To another stage of mind .
Welcome to the 5th demission of art
The magic !
Pictures of beauty is happening
In front of my eyes
What a unique moment
Moments that can’t be repeated
But it can be remembered
Remembered by you , by me and everyone surround us
Take a moment and feel that energy
And you will see how amazing you are
How amazing I am .
And How amazing this art form is
The Art of movement
“ train hard & play easy”
*Photos by Bad Witch Images