A few days ago, my friend Caro, who is my writing coach, sent me a Whatsapp message: “Julia, we need to postpone our session which was planned on March the 7th. It is Nyepi in Bali, the Day of Silence.”
And suddenly, a memory comes to my mind. In March 2016, during my sabbatical year, I arrived in Bali in the middle of the night, just before the beginning of Nyepi.
I had booked a guesthouse in Canggu, a village on the sea side. As I arrived to the guesthouse, my host welcomed me and told me: “Do you know that here in Bali, tomorrow is Nyepi, the Day of Silence?”
I had no idea. He explained: “This is a very important tradition in Bali. On this day, no one can go out or talk.” Everybody is supposed to stay home in silence. It is a day of fasting and meditating. It is a day for self-reflection. No work, no use of technology, no entertainment like Internet, radio or TV, and a limited use of electricity.
“It starts at 6am tomorrow and ends the next day at 6am. So I have these 3 boxes of dry noodles and tea for you, for tomorrow’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can boil water and prepare them when you are hungry.”
It was late, and I went to my room to get ready for bed. It felt both really intriguing and significant to me to be arriving in Bali at this very precise moment.
The following day was a whole day of silence, by myself, not leaving the house. My first decision was: I set no alarm clock.
I woke up and I felt like this day was sacred. It seemed like time had stopped. I had 24 hours during which nothing happened outside. I had 24 hours to be with myself, and reflect, and read, and write, and rest. And eat dry noodles.
And so I spent the day doing just that.
There was a lot going on inside of me, because I had spent months moving from one place to the other, discovering myself, places, people and life. I had just announced to my employer that I was not willing to come back. I was thinking about a very big move: starting a one year Professional Coaching training program in San Francisco.
And I had a day off. Life was giving me a day off. That day, I could stop and have a break from whatever it felt like I needed to do in a day of my life. As the external world was on hold, I could breathe and take time for myself. Settling there, not moving, doing nothing, allowing myself to be in touch with all that had been transforming and moving inside of me.
Today, in my apartment in Paris, I am thinking about that day. Seeing how hard it is to create such moments for myself in our busy world, filled with technologies, and things to do, and people, and expectations that I create in my mind.
I want to reconnect to this possibility for a day of silence, self-reflection and nourishment. Time to just be, in the restless lives we tend to create and lead; because the busy external world is so convincing, because modernity has disconnected most of us from sacredness and rituals of communion with nature and others. So maybe next Thursday I will create my own Nyepi time in Paris.
Taking a whole day to do things I rarely engage in, slowly, silently, and fully: reading poetry, cooking slowly, breathing deeply, looking at the sky, dancing on my own secret silent choreography, writing words of gratitude, drinking tea, and reading my favourite books.
Friends all over the planet, bringing your gifts every day to others and the world:
How does it feel, to connect with that possibility? What would it be like, in your own unique sacred life, for one day, to make time for rest, silence, self-reflection, deep presence, and nourishment of your heart and soul?
It seems that we cannot wait for the external world to just stop and have us be fully here, breathing and restoring our precious energies. But we can make a conscious choice to create that for ourselves.
We just need to pick a day…
Cultivating this quality of presence is part of our responsibility as coaches. As I trained to become an Integral Coach in California, I discovered that coaching is not something that we do. Coaching is a way of being. It takes practice to be fully present with the precious human beings we support in their own unique transformation. It takes time to see them truly, to listen to them deeply. Our inner peace and the clarity that we find in stillness and silence enable us to create the magic that helps humans change.