Many people visit Bali in search for answers, spiritual healing, balance or just plain relaxation. If you read the book (or saw the movie) “Eat Pray Love” then you know about Ketut Liyer, the Balinese palm reader who predicted Elizabeth Gilbert’s future. Well, of course I was curious but before I even left America, I did a little research and learned he may not be as effective as he was years ago with Elizabeth. Word on the streets in Ubud was that he has aged quite a bit, his memory lapses and he has been saying the same thing to everyone. Alit said “don’t waste your time.” And if I had more days in Ubud, I would’ve spared a little time to see him just for the notoriety since he is a celebrity.
Almost everyone I asked in Ubud said Cokorda Rai (pronounced CHOkorda Rye), is the healer to see. He’s not a palm reader. He doesn’t exclusively do psychic work. In fact I don’t know what exactly he does. I just had too many locals pointing me in his direction and Alit, my driver and local expert, recommended him. You don’t have the opportunity to ask him to explain his technique but it seemed like a combination of Reiki with acupressure with his unique diagnostic method. He spends about 10-15 minutes per client, (probably more time in the past when he wasn’t so busy)
When Alit and I arrived early one morning, there was already a busload of people waiting- from different parts of the world. I even noticed some people telling him this was their second or third annual visit. It was a one and half hour wait but I observed closely. Cokorda Rai is an elderly man with a gentle, warm smile. I watched him do a healing on several people including a couple with fertility issues. There’s no sign in sheet. The waiting area and treatment room were one in the same. Fresh breezes carried the sweet scent of his garden flowers and friendly assistants attended including a Pomeranian who passed through the waiting crowd asking for bellyrubs. There’s no such thing as HIPAA in Bali! Boy, if only my practice in America can be this simplified! However, I felt like I was invading their space by just sitting there and intently listening but this is actually normal in Balinese tradition. All visiting patients accepted that and did not mind being photographed. We felt sharing this info served a purpose to those curious about this native healing methodology. Any sensitive advice was given in whispers as he leans over you.
“What can I do for you?” he gently asks as I knelt down in front of him. “I’m not sure. Maybe my jaw pain? My stress?” He took one look at me he commented on my poor sleep and said it’s not only because of the traveling. “Your body sleep well but your mind do not!” (true).
I sat on the floor leaning back on his knees (he’s in his chair. He starts by swiftly and firmly palpating my head, face- over the eyes, sinuses, neck and shoulders and finds the tender points. Then he had me lay on the floor mat and uses a type of Balinese chopstick to press the pads of my toes. Each toe corresponds to different organs and systems. He starts pressing the pinky toe: “This is your heart” (fine), “this is your liver” (ok), “this is your blood” (little tender) “This is your …”(OUCH!!!) I almost kicked him. He’s smiling. Not fun, but apparently this is the Balinese way.. everything is done smiling, even the bad. My eyes are tearing from the pain and probably from anxiety of what he’s going to say. The “mind” pressure point was the trigger. Typically he performs some ritual hand motion over you, counsels you then re-tests all the toes with expectation of less pain. I was not an exciting patient case for the waiting room audience in front of me –but that’s good for me. All other systems were normal according to him. He did give me some predictions and recommendations which stressed regular meditation. He said “You must be patient and open your heart to new possibilities. You need let go of people who don’t appreciate you and look forward.” (How profound! Good advice! I told him nothing about my life except my name and where I live.) The re-test was not so painful. He was a little hard to understand but he didn’t seem grave or serious about my condition. He was quite optimistic for me. So, a friend of mine went with Alit a few days later. Cokorda Rai found a remarkable underlying condition to her stomach complaints and said he was going to correct it so she “can have a healthy baby”- something NOT in her plans but it was predicted by a psychic/medium in another part of Bali the day before. Interesting and eerie! How did he know? I guess he is a little psychic too.
Balinese people see healers like Cokorda Rai for primary care. They are very spiritual people and believe in power of prayer, meditation and kindness to
others. There is no such thing as advanced bookings, cancellation polices and it is first come first served most of the time. It’a a very laid back system and you have no choice but to just go with the flow. It’s customary to bring a Balinese offering called a CANANG, along with the cash payment.
It was my first introduction to Balinese healing arts but not my last. Living in a stressful environment (like any city in North America) makes it challenging to practice “regular meditation” but I decided to make a commitment, especially after hearing the same thing from the other healers I visited later on. This is not scientific from a Western standpoint. But this is older than Western Medicine…much older. And somehow it works for the several people who seek these ancient healing techniques, whether it’s Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda or these fascinating Balinese therapies. I’ll be posting articles soon about my phenomenal experiences with Balinese Ayurvedic Treatments, Water blessings (Malukat) and intuitive readings.
Have you had a remarkable experience with a native healer or medicine man? Please share and post a comment.