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How the healing magic of Bali changed my life forever


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When travel goes well, it can be life-changing. And for Well+Good Council member Kelsey Patel, a three-week sojourn in Bali was all that and more. Here, the spiritual empowerment coach shares reflections on her recent (healing, thought-provoking, magical) trip.

You’ve probably heard of Bali from friends, Instagram, and, of course, Eat, Pray, Love. As someone who has been in the healing arts both for my personal growth and as a teacher and practitioner, I can tell you firsthand that Bali lives up to its reputation for wonder and healing magic.

When I first started my journey into healing, I had no idea about the energy of different places. I didn’t know how vortices and bodies of water could have a palpable vibration, or of the cultural healing lineages that have been passed on from generation to generation. I did, however, have a deep desire to visit Bali. I knew almost nothing about it 10 years ago, but anytime I did a self-help workshop or group class, I would say that someday I wanted to lead a yoga retreat in Bali. At the time, I wasn’t even a certified yoga teacher, didn’t have enough money to go on a solo journey, and likely didn’t have enough courage to go alone.

Kelsey Patel visits Bali
Photos: Kelsey Patel

Well, 10 years have passed, and there’s been a whole lot of shifting and changing. Last month, I spent three blissful weeks in Bali: one week with my husband, another alone, and the last week teaching a yoga and reiki retreat. I went all in. I took outdoor showers. I did yoga. Nearly every other day was filled with a healing treatment for my mind, body, or spirit—from a Balinese massage to Ayurvedic body scrubs. I saw a blind healer; an older man from a local village who held my wrists to tune into my entire body and blessed me; a former New Yorker named Cat who performed an energy healing session. I ate the most amazing fruits, fresh vegetables, and insanely delicious banana-leaf pancakes.

We visited Tirta Empul, the sacred water temples just outside of the yogic destination Ubud, and walked through the complete ceremony and Balinese ritual for a full healing and chakra cleansing. I experienced one of the most-intense climbs of my life on Mount Batur, only to feel the most-incredible sensation at the top: waiting for the sunrise with 25 other beautiful women who pushed themselves to get there. When the sun revealed itself, we witnessed ourselves above the clouds—my first time ever. Magical.

Kelsey Patel visits the rice fields of Bali.

In Bali, the energy is palpable. Locals know how powerful their island is and they give her a piece of their respect each day through offerings. Nearly every local home and shop has a shrine inside, and people seem more inclined to let the small stuff go. (Talk about consciousness!) Many people will greet you with their hands in Anjali mudra (prayer position) at the heart to say hello. If you need help or are looking for something, people go out of the way to assist you.

Don’t get me wrong, Bali can also be very challenging. It’s as if the energy of the island itself knows exactly where you’re not aligned and whirls you around to get you to a state of being in harmony with yourself, others, and nature. There were many times we were visited by monkeys, birds, reptiles, dogs, bees, frogs, rainfall, spiders, intense heat, mosquitoes, and more. Not exactly what I’m used to! But by the end of my stay, the critters I had initially avoided had become my little buddies.

For me, the true healing power of Bali was simply witnessing its way of life. Seeing so much kindness and consciousness left a deep impression on me. I came home from Bali grateful for all the ups and downs it offered, and ready to integrate some of these magical healing moments into my everyday life. I know I’ll be back again someday.

Kelsey Patel headshot
Photo: Kelsey Patel

Kelsey Patel is a sought-after spiritual empowerment coach, yoga teacher, reiki healer, and meditation teacher. She is also the creator and founder of Magik Vibes, a soul-enhancing lifestyle brand, the resident reiki instructor for Soho House, and a head teacher at The DEN Meditation and Unplug Meditation in Los Angeles. Kelsey has been featured in publications such as US WeeklyHarper’s Bazaar, and The New York Times.

What should Kelsey write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to [email protected]

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