Visitors to Bali may embrace the array of massages and other hands-on healing sessions available but traditional healing rests with the Holy Man or Balian. The Balian, keynoted as paranormal, is an energetic and spiritually guided form of healing, where the Balian consults with masters, guides and ancestors on your behalf to find solutions to problems, be they life circumstances, physical, emotional or relationship disturbances. This rests on the fundamental idea that every problem is spiritual in nature and that solutions can be found through consultation with higher sources. Westerners can visit a Holy Man, but you will need a local to direct you and help you through the process. Do not embark on this journey without pure intent and be careful to follow sacred protocol.
The Balian is paranormal because solutions and a course of action is channelled. Every spiritual healer works differently, so please do not take this as a definitive guide. For those well-acquainted with spiritual and energetic healing in the West, the main difference with Balinese Holy Men is that ritual and sacred practice takes a more prominent role. It is difficult to understand the roots of this practice: it may be Hindu or Balinese tradition, a little of both, or again it may rest with the individual style of each Holy Man. Ritual, though is integral to Balinese way of life, and its importance resonates with and is highly respected by the people.
The Holy Man helps receives messages from spiritual sources and communicates this with you, usually through a translator. It is a privilege to be in the presence of a true wisdom-keeper.
Even the most energetic and spiritually guided Balinese masseurs and healers whom I have visited do not come close to providing the depth of energy healing that a Balian creates. The Balian's style may also be likened to shamanism. Many masseurs are intuitive and have had healing passed on through the maternal line and from great teachers- but most are not yet fully conscious of spiritual connection or use paranormal abilities with refinement or detail. When I have tried to discuss clairvoyant or clairsentient knowledge with Balinese healers, they have been, for the most part, unaware of their guidance, abilities and the effect that truly deep healing can deliver. That does not mean that deep healing does not take place – it just means that they generally work with a more physical vibration.
There's no real 'must-haves' in the offering presentation- it just must look and smell good.
To find and to make an appointment with a Balian, you need the help of a trusted local or friend. There are two types of 'Holy Man' or 'Woman': a Mangku and a Balian. The Mangku is a Holy Man or Woman trusted to bring through spiritual blessing for ceremonies, events or a new building or site; while a Balian, is the paranormal healer. If locals ask you 'why do you want to see the Holy Man?', they are not prying, but just trying to see which type of Holy Man you want to consult. The best answer may be: 'I want a paranormal holy man to help me with a problem', which gets rid of the assumption that you are seeking ceremonial blessing. As the traditional and trusted go-to form of healing, most Balinese people will know of a Balian and will be able to help you (it is the same as asking someone in Australia who their doctor is). You do need to enlist local support for referral, getting there, translation and carrying out what may become quite complex and specific sacred rituals.
The marigold flower is often included in spiritual practice and offerings. To get to the women's-only sacred bathing area, you pass through marigold fields.
In Bali, people 'live the sacred' and do believe that there are spiritual causes to each problem. Seeing a Balian is not a giant leap of faith for them or a weird concept. They may be fascinated that you will want to see a Balian. By going, and embracing the experience, you are honouring their culture and beliefs: they will want to help you and generally, they will stay for your visit.
Oftentimes, Bahasa (Indonesian) and Balinese are used interchangeably, and the older the Balian is, the more likely that he/she will speak Balinese. So unless you speak absolutely fluent Bahasa, Balinese and are well-versed in Hinduism, sacred Balinese practice, local geography and can converse in complex metaphysics in both languages and religious traditions, then it is to your advantage that they do stay for your visit of consultation.
I did go with a local family and it was fortunate that I did. Even though I can understand basic Bahasa, I misinterpreted the ritual given to me to complete the Healing. Diligently, I ventured to the beach the next day to complete a cleansing ritual in the ocean water- first 11 x and then another 3 times. The next day before I had to return to the Balian for a concluding session, the family turned up to escort me down the beach, laughing when I said I had already completed the practice. We piled onto motorbikes and rode to a specific part of the beachfront framed by a temple, and sitting with my friend, we lit incense, laid an offering, meditated and then cleansed first on the sand 11 times, and then at water's edge, another 3 times. Then on motorbikes again, we passed a field of marigolds to submit to more cleansing in an ancient, cold-water women's only spring pool. At this sacred site, we fully immersed in shirts and sarongs in front the goddess, lit incense and made another small offering. Ritual practice is exacting and well-known by locals.
The temple behind the beach sands, where the first stage of meditation and ritual cleansing was practiced. Follow the Balian's instructions as it honours sacred sites in Bali.
You need to take an offering to the Balian and present yourself honourably. This is a guide or rule-of-thumb, so before you go, double-check with your local friend or family who may be accompanying you.
A street seller in Ubud makes-up a traditional offering. The care and craft that goes into their creation declares the importance of spirituality in Balinese life.
1. Make sure that you are respectfully dressed. For both men and women, this means a sarong with a jacket or shirt that covers the arms. Don't look as though you have just walked off the beach.
2. Take an offering. You can buy them at any local market or from a small roadside shop or 'toko'. As a westerner, you would be expected to take large one which costs about 3-5,000 rupiah (30-50 cents).
3. Put the offering on some sort of metal plate that is covered with raw rice.
4. Poke some rolled-up money underneath the offering (resting on the rice). Locals would roughly offer 50,000 rupiah ($5) so westerners would be expected to offer about 70,000 ($7).
5. Lay a couple of sticks of incense over the offering.
6. When you are presented to the Balian, give him the offering. Generally, it is taken into his meditation area where he communicates with his spiritual masters.
You will be asked to take off your shoes and sit in the open concrete area outside the meditation rooms. This is the public 'reception' area of a private home. You are invited to chat and soon be asked why you have to see the Balian. Chances are, there will be a translator-meditator organised to help you to communicate with the Balian, as well as your local friend. Throw your western ideas of 'privacy' out the window: in Bali, no-one is ever alone. People live in families or villages and the village takes care of you. Your local friend and the translator will not leave you and others too may join in to listen and contemplate: you may not have 'privacy' but you do have support, acceptance and confidentially.
You can purchase an offering from any local market or small street stall.
When the Balian feels that he understands the problem and can seek spiritual guidance on your behalf, he will move into his own sacred meditation space and invite you (and your friend) to sit quietly nearby. Every Balian works differently: some may enter a light trance, recite conversation or a light chant, or sit in meditation while they commune with source. You can see them, and those who can read or are sensitive to energy, will see their frequency and vibration change. When the Balian has received spiritual direction he will re-enter the room in which you are sitting and ask the translator to communicate the channelled message to you. Make sure that you do understand: be patient.
The Balian will ask you to enter a light meditation and endow a water blessing in your forehead, face and head. The Balian may give you further instructions for another follow-up visit or practice: make sure that you understand what you are being told. Your local friends or those who have accompanied you will help you to complete the healing process. You may like to offer your local friend some money (it depends on who they are and your relationship with them) but seeing a Balian is part of Balinese sacred life and chances are- they will be happy to help. Ask about monetary contribution for their time, but if they wave it away, accept their assistance - it is the nature of the sacred.
Even though every session will be different, a traditional healing session with a Balian all rests on honour: honour the rituals you are given; honour your hosts and honour the help that locals and the Balian has offered to you. Everyone will respond to spiritual healing differently but the energetic effects are fairly immediate with an overwhelming feeling of peace and settlement. Deep connection brings real life changes.
As well as giving an offering to the Balian, they are also appreciated by Balinese people. To give a gift of offering to your hosts is 'to speak Balinese'.