I recently had an opportunity to experience Nyepi — Balinese New Year. The night before Nyepi each village makes a huge colourful statue that first gets paraded down the streets, then burnt or broken to symbolically represent getting rid of “evil spirits” before being “reborn” after Nyepi. A lovely thought.

On Tuesday 28 March everyone had to stay indoors, be quiet and not have any visible light once the darkness descends. For tourists it means staying within the gates of their hotel or villa. Many decide to leave Hindu Bali behind for the days around Nyepi, and head to other nearby (Muslim) islands.

I, on the other hand ran towards the opportunity with open arms. Why?

  • For a good few years now I have craved a day off the grid, without contact with an outside world, no talking, no phone, no browsing. Somehow such day kept getting delayed and delayed (there is always some reason or other). Well, no better opportunity than an island-wide enforced day of exactly those things, right?
  • Nyepi fell on 3 days after the end of Bali Spirit festival which left my body craving at the very least a slow down, or ideally a full stop, and my mind craving peace and quiet.
  • I wanted to rest, reflect, and integrate all the wonderful experiences of the past week. Sleep, meditation, writing, and reading (in that order or priority) were my only to-dos.

It has been an incredible day, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Wanted to use this space to recap some of the key experiences and learnings of the day:

  • With no alarm and no social media to check in the morning, somehow I got 13 hours of sleep in. Wow, speak of a radical slowdown! Having nowhere to be, nowhere to go, no FOMO, nothing to achieve is all it takes to send the “full rest” message that would be well received!
  • I really loved having external stimuli reduced to a minimum. Truth be told, once you are indoors you can do whatever, as long as it cannot be seen or heard from the outside. My “silent and offline” choices turned out to be a minority (of exactly one). A few inhabitants of our small hotel, plus the family keeping it, were all happy enough to splash about by the pool and sip beer. I just wanted everyone to shut up, be quiet or get lost — must be truly ready for a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation!
  • I relished an opportunity to turn inwards and listen in. Morning Pages were flowing, with 7 vs. the usual 3 produced. That alone is such a head-clearer!
  • I swallowed a whole book (about 5.5 hours reading time) on Sensitive-Intuitives in that one day. A perfect read for a day like that, blew the top of my head off. Reading somehow still did beat meditation — “consuming vs. creating” has reared its head yet again, but in this case given the choice of reading material I am not complaining…

My biggest takeaway from the day was the need to bring this practice into my normal life. When you want to stop (but the whole of life does not) it would take a bit more preparation and expectations management, but it’s so worth it.