Archive for April, 2009

Bali Spirit Festival – Day 2

Posted by Robin Sparks on April 30th, 2009 | Email this to friend
Nature's energy drink on tap at the Bali Spirit Festival

Nature's energy drink on tap at the Bali Spirit Festival

Day number two of Bali Spirit Festival 2009 is packed with classes and workshops led by healers, musicians, and instructors the likes of Swami Shankardev, Khalife, Patrick Creelman, Awahoshi, Rebecca Pflaum, Geoffrey Gordon, Nick Woolsey, Cudamani, Ravi Vempati, Ganga Giri, Akim Funk Buddha, and well, I could go on and on. It’s a metaphysical glutton’s delight. And I, for one, am happy to partake.

My first class is Awahoshi’s crystal bowl class, because I met her last night dancing with the Tribal Goddesses and she encouraged me to come. Something about her wise, mystic way intrigued me.

Awahoshi is a Cheyenne-Slovakian calirvoyant musician who pioneered the use of crystal sound therapy over two decades ago.

Awahoshi's Crystal Bowl Sound Therapy Class

Awahoshi's Crystal Bowl Sound Therapy Class

She is a keynote speaker for major conferences around the world, has been interviewed on BBC, NBC and Italian Alternative Medicine TV, and has been recognized by the Native American Hopi Bear and Blue Flute Tribal Elders, Navaho Medicine Keepers, and Mayan Priests as “one who brings circles of healing to the world”.

I arrive a few minutes late hungry and so, grab a Kafe organic chicken quesadilla atop a banana leaf(plate) and a fresh young coconut, with its top hacked off, complete with a hollow bamboo straw (no plastic straws here!). I balance the soccer ball sized coconut in one hand, the plate of food in the other and head across the lawn as if on my way to a Balinese temple ceremony.

incredibly delicious healthy food for sale

incredibly delicious healthy food for sale

Nearly every square inch of real estate is taken up in the large hall by students awaiting Awaohi’s crystal bowl magic. She must be really good, I am thinking. I lay my mat in the only remaining spot in the back corner of the room . Meanwhile, Awahoshi is saying that our bodies are 90% water and crystalline. She instructs us to repeat an affirmation during the playing of the bowls, claiming that our physical and metaphysical molecular structure will transform in accordance with our thoughts.

I pick an affirmation that at this moment, I desire most. Love. As much as I’d like to say I don’t want or need love, the fact is, I do, very much, and so as the reverberation of the crystal bowls zing and ricochet through every cell of my body, I repeat: I am sharing my life with an amazing, loving man who I love very much and together we are creating a life that is full of peace and joy, and together we are growing and changing the world. By the end of the hour, I not only know that my affirmation is going to come true, it feels as if it already has.
(Read more about Awahoshi at: http://www.bali3000.com/crystalsound/index2.html)

Time to get my yoga on at Patrick Creelman’s Anusara Yoga class in the upper bale. The curly headed Canadian’s energy is reminiscent of a college cheerleader.

Patrick Creelman guiding Anusara Yoga class

Patrick Creelman guiding Anusara Yoga class

Introduced to the teachings of Ram Dass early in his life, Patrick has been exploring the spirit of yoga for over 10 years in Costa Rica, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, U.S.A. and Hong Kong. What makes him stand out from the gaggle of yoga teachers I’ve had, is the subtlety of the words he uses to guide us through subtle movements, such that I find myself twisting and stretching in ways I’d thought impossible. We are accompanied throughout the hour by the African drumming workshop taking place on the lawn next door. The “up” energy as we disperse after class is palpable.

Balinese Barong performance

Balinese Barong performance

At sunset, I join friends on a rattan mat to watch a Balinese gamelon and barong performance. Geoffrey Gordon, renowned kirtan singer and musician leads us in devotional chanting.

The evening’s performances are a mellow respite from the past two nights of late-night dancing and upbeat music and what promises to be a riveting performance tomorrow night featuring Brian Parks (aka bKp) and Tom Freund.

I leave with about 40 more mosquito bites on my chest, under my arms, and on my stomach than I arrived with, but I am peaceful and happy as I kiss friends goodbye and head home for the night.

See you first thing tomorrow at Ines Somellera’s 8 AM Yoga & Writing class.

Robin Sparks
www.robinsparks.com

Children entertaining themselves on festival grounds

Children entertaining themselves on festival grounds

between classes and workshops

between classes and workshops

Reporting Live from the Bali Spirit Festival!

Posted by Robin Sparks on April 29th, 2009 | Email this to friend

Tri Hita Karana
3 Balinese words that symbolize the heart of the Bali Spirit Festival:
Harmony with God, Harmony in Community, Harmony with Nature

Masters of ceremony, Amsalan Doraisingam and Teresa Hererra, kick off the opening night ceremony

Masters of ceremony, Amsalan Doraisingam and Teresa Hererra, kick off the opening night ceremony

Ketut, owner of Tutmak Restaurant and Joe, local musician

Ketut, owner of Tutmak Restaurant and Joe, local musician

Charlie and Stacy from California

Charlie and Stacy from California

Food prepared "Balinese offering style" on biodegradeable platters
Today's Sun Salutations

Today's Sun Salutations

Renowned yogini, Katy Appleton, in this morning's kick off Yoga Mala

Renowned yogini, Katy Appleton, in this morning's kick off Yoga Mala

Yogi, Mark Whitwell gives hands on instruction to festival participant

Yogi, Mark Whitwell gives hands on instruction to festival participant

It’s official. The 2nd annual Bali Spirit Festival is under way!

www.balispiritfestival.com
A vibrant, uplifting and diverse festival of yoga, dance and music which awakens and nourishes each individual’s potential for positive change within our world.

Festival Vision
*We honour, respect and promote the power of the saccred arts of yoga, dance and music.
*We champion the collaborative power of the global creative community with Bali.
*We strive to strengthen the ecological health and harmonious vitality of Bali and the cultural vibrancy of Indonesia.

Opening night, Tuesday April 28, 2009 -

I park my Yamaha motorcycle with hundreds of others feeling like I’ve arrived at an outdoor rock concert in California. Except that this is different. This is Bali.

For one thing, most everyone I know on the island is here. Claude from France, Rama from Venezuela, Glenn from New York, Orly from Tel Aviv, Marie from Sweden, Charley and Stacey from California, Ketut from Ubud, Bill from Australia, Paula from Singapore, and more. Each of us arrived in Bali once upon a time on holiday – and stayed. Why? Because we are better here than we were at “home” – and a big thank you to the Balinese who so graciously share their island and spiritually-infused lifestyle with us.

Locals, young and old stand to one side, watching us curiously. The air is balmy, the dress, tropical casual: shorts, sleeveless shirts, tevas, and long flowing sexy Goddess.

Attendees meander among the stalls of the Dharma fair, checking out handcrafted jewelry, hand-tailored clothing, and organic food and drinks. Eventually we make our way to the main stage, where we spread out on the grass. (Over 1000 tickets have been sold). Stars sparkle overhead throwing palm trees into silouette, and bamboo mats are spread out on the lawn.

Local dignitaries welcome the crowd onstage. Ketut, a Balinese healer, reminds us that we are much more than our physical bodies – which he compares to wrappers discarded on the side of the road (which is by the way far less common here than it was even 1 year ago). I Made Gunarta, co-founder and producer of the concert along with wife Meghan Pappenheim, welcomes us first in English and then in Bahasa Indonesia.

Pooja Bhantangar shimmers and shakes to haunting Indian music.

Rocky Dawuni, his waist length dreads swaying in the tropical air, performs fusion Reggae, Afro Beat.

Nick Woolsey spins fire, flames tossed into the air, spun round, streaking the night.

Larisa Stow and The Shakti Tribe huddle in prayer on a darkened stage preparing for will be the last performance of opening night. Lights, action! Lusty goddesses chant in Sanskrit, whipping the crowd into a spiritual fervor. Sofia Thom, ecstatic dancer,undulates stage right like the tantrika she is.

We are here not only to enjoy the music and the dance and to catch up with friends, but as part of a collective effort to be better than we were – yesterday, 15 minutes ago. It is about spotlighting the divine in everyone and celebrating it. It is dedication to living a life that supports and nourishes ourselves, every living being, community, and the planet.

Party on!
Your humble blog Gloddess,
Robin Sparks
www.robinsparks.com

Day One at the Balispirit festival, April 29, 2009:

I cycle through an outdoor Bali Hai movie set of rice paddies as the sun rises. Uniformed Balinese children fill the streets walking to school. The warm sun licks my bare shoulders. I pull over to the side of the road next to a football field where boys and girls in bright yellow uniforms fill the field like happy bees. I hear the deep resonant chanting that I often hear wafting on night air usually near temples. Incredibly enough, the sound, I discover, is coming from the coach who stands peacefully at the side of the field, the children buzzing around him. He wears a white flower behind his ear.

Right there on the side of the road, I speak into my voice recorder: Bali is beautiful without trying. So beautiful it hurts! In a good way of course. (-:

I climb back onto my bike and arrive at the festival in time for 8AM sun salutations guided by globally renowned yogis, Mark Whitwell, Ravi Vempati, Katy Appleton, and Uma Inder.

Eckhardt Tolle says actual consciousness cannot be defined in words. That consciousness is the space beyond and around thought. Awareness. Presence. A way of being that is beneficial to one’s self, to others, and the planet – in every walking moment.

Consciousness surrounds us here: Organic whole food served on biodegradeable banana leaves. Toilets that compost. Recycling bins everywhere. Integration of the local culture with the foreign. Friends hugging. Love. Lots of it. And gratitude to spare.

I join journalists in the media tent to speak with yogis Katy Appleton, Eoin Flinn, and Mark Whitwell.

Eoin, surfer, author, yogi, and a self-proclaimed “blissoligist” from Vancouver, says his temple is the ocean and that his students are regular people, many of them formerly entrenched in a life of work, consumerism and television.

Katy Appleton, answers a Balinese journalist who asks why we need yoga, that yoga liberates us. Helps us to define what binds us so that we can let it go. “Yoga asanas help you turn the noise down so that you can settle into a full feeling of abundance”, she says.

Mark Whitwell proclaims that there is a yoga practice for every person, young or old, religious or not, regardless of physical location, environment, or politics. He points out that the Islamic world has more yogis than anywhere in the world. “After all,” he said, “Muslims perform full body prayers five times a day.”

Speaking of Muslims, Pujiastuti Sindhu, from Bandung (near Jakarta) represents Muslim yoga practioners this week on Bali, an island of hinduism in the world’s largest Islamic country. Puji has been in the forefront of recent yoga fatwa debates across Indonesia and Malaysia.

Yogini, Pujiastuti Sindhu

Yogini, Pujiastuti Sindhu

She discovered yoga in a second hand bookshop seven years ago whereupon she began to practice yoga and within 5 years was teaching it herself. “Yoga softens the heart, lets it open up – and only with an open heart can we receive the truth,” she says. In spite of recent government “laws” which discourage Muslims from meditation and chanting as part of their yoga practice, she says that there are many headscarf-wearing, Muslim yoga teachers in Indonesia. She believes that Indonesia is already loosening its anti-yoga rhetoric.

__________________________

So all you yogis, yoginis, dancers, musicians, wanna-be-in-Balians and already-in-Balians…that’s it for today. I am headed back to the festival to dance with the Goddess Tribe.

Your Bali Spirit Blog Gloddess,
Robin Sparks
www.robinsparks.com

The Kaptan Sevket, Magic Carpet Ride Along Turkey's Coast

The Kaptan Sevket, Magic Carpet Ride Along Turkey

Hello Writers!

We’re counting down to what promises to be another memorable writing workshop aboard the Kaptan Sevket on Turkey’s Turquoise coast September 19-26, 2009 with Larry Habegger, editor and co-founder of Travelers’ Tales Books. Aboard our classic Turkish wood sailing yacht, we’ll meet for instruction in the mornings after breakfast, partake in private consultations throughout each day (in and around writing and exploring), and meet for discussion, and sharing our work in the evenings before a sumptuous nightly feast. After that, of course, there’s more time to talk or write, sip wine or raki, or simply lie on the deck and gaze at the stars. We’ll move from secluded cove to cove up and down Turkey’s southern coastline, stopping to swim, kayak, snorkel, view ruins and visit villages. Full details here: http://www.larryhabegger.com/teaching/

Swimming off Cleopatra Island in 2008

Swimming off Cleopatra Island in 2008

If you haven’t reserved a space yet, I highly encourage you to do so as the class once again is limited to 8 students.

This workshop just gets better each year!

For a view of what you’re in for, take a peek at last year’s workshop:

In September 2008, ten writers boarded the Kaptan Sevket in Bodrum, Turkey to sail into the Aegean Sea and to write, guided by writing instructor extraordinaire, Larry Habegger. Our wildly varied group of personalities, ages, and skill levels bonded quickly. Each person in the group was a dedicated writer, emphatic about improving their skills. And each worked at it, showing up for every class each morning and evening and for personal consultations with the instructor throughout each day.

1st class of the day begins over breakfast

1st class of the day begins over breakfast

After a week that included idyllic sailing along Turkey’s curvaceous coastline, swimming and kayaking in aquamarine waters, visits to small villages, hiking among the ruins on Cleopatra Island, eating outrageously delicious, healthy food that just kept coming and coming, meeting and talking about writing, and producing heaps of newly informed and inspired pieces, we disembarked with indelible memories, new friends, and vastly enhanced writing skills.

Our magic carpet, The Kaptan Sevket, is a sleek, solid, 82 foot, hand-built Turkish gulet with majestic sails that tower high above as we head each day into the next bucolic harbor. Ensuite cabins are large, each with 2 single berths or one double bed. We did not see one other boat on the water last September that could compare to ours! And the crew, how we loved them. There was the capable, all-knowing, story teller extraordinaire Kaptan Mustafa. And sweet, efficient Levent, Batur and Tuncay.

The food. Well, if you know anything about Turkish food, you know you’re in for a treat. I cannot say enough about the fabulous food our crew prepared, and so I won’t. Check out photos here: http://ontheroad.destinationtbd.com/2008/10/04/the-food/

In September 2009, we’ll begin a bit further south in the village of Gocek. From there we’ll head south to Ulu Deniz – one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We’ll snorkel over ancient cities in Kas, sail past Lycian ruins that date back to Jesus Christ, go ashore when the mood strikes, and yes, once again, we will write. And we will do it on the Kaptan Sevket with the same crew. They are family now.

Local girls at the market in Turkish village

Local girls at the market in Turkish village

The price for the workshop, boat, excursions, and food is $2800 usd. (airfare separate). You may reserve your spot by sending $1400 via Paypal.com to robin@robinsparks.com. Spots are filling fast so be sure to reserve yours soon. And please purchase travel insurance as deposits are non-refundable unless we are able to fill your spot.

To learn more about our instructor, Larry Habegger, co-editor and founder of Travelers Tales Books, have a look at the following links:
http://travelerstales.com
http://larryhabegger.com

Here is what some of our participants have to say about last year’s workshop:

When I signed up for the workshop, I couldn’t have imagined what I would leave with: deep friendships, a new understanding of myself and writing goals, an amazing collection of photos, and a great big notebook of souvenirs in the form of writing tips, techniques, and guidance I received from Larry, who has replaced my 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Klein, as my favorite instructor of all time. Sailing on a handsome gulet along the gem-colored shoreline of the Aegean Sea is the perfect place to get inspired, forget about all the distractions at home, and devote yourself to a week of writing. – Cheryn Flanagan, San Francisco, California

This workshop exceeded my expectations a million times. I had a vague idea I could write commentary but had no confidence in my ability to write description. I came away feeling like I can now do both. Larry helped me find continuity in my notes and pull them together into something that was actually writing instead of just ideas on a page. Listening to everyone else was valuable in pointing me in the right direction. Having optional and flexible individual consultations was perfect. Being on a boat in gorgeous surroundings crystallized everything into one great experience. – Nicola Prentis, Istanbul, Turkey

Carrie relaxing on the bow

Carrie relaxing on the bow

Thank you for a wonderful experience aboard the Kaptan Sevket! The trip was well organized. It was a nice touch making decisions as a group about specific destinations on a day-to-day basis. As a lover of the wilderness, I enjoyed mooring in secluded bays absent of resorts and other development. I liked meeting in the morning and reconvening in the evenings for writing. The private meetings with Larry were a real plus. Our group was diverse in many ways, and I appreciated the different personalities. Thank you so much for an inspiring, relaxing and colorful experience! – Carrie Visintainer, Fort Collins, Colorado

So, reserve your spot soon and I will see you in Turkey in September 2009!

Robin Sparks in Istanbul, Turkey
OneWorld Ltd – Accommodations for the Global Traveler and Writing Workshops that Rock!
http://www.robinsparks.com

In the unlikely event that a minimum of 8 students is not reached, we reserve the right to cancel the workshop and return all deposits.