DYING, GRIEVING AND LIVING IN BALI: A SOCIAL AND CULTURAL EXPLORATION with Alexandra Kennedy & I Made Suryasa
Aug. 18-30, 2018
Bali is only one of more than 17,000 islands in Indonesia – the fourth most populous nation in the world. But this island, currently enjoying an artistic renaissance, must be one of the world’s loveliest. It is rich in dramatic scenery, ancient temples, and graceful people. An immense nation covering a total land area of 741,000 square miles, Indonesia is still growing. One-fourth of its 400 volcanoes are still active, changing the country’s contours to new scenes spectacular in their contrasts.
Bali remains one of the few places in the world where the traveler can explore and discover untouched places and witness religious rituals that have not diminished with the passing of time. Every back road is a gateway to the heart of the Balinese people.
In this two week sojourn, we will be exploring how the Balinese culture embraces dying (“The Great Departure”), grieving and living in their rites of passage. There will be talks on birth ceremonies, the two stages of the cremation ritual (Ngban/Palebon– which is essentially returning the five elements back to Nature) and deitification of the ancestor (Mamukur/Ngeroras). We will take time each day to deepen and integrate our experiences in this rich, soulful culture through group discussions, meditation, dreamwork, periods of silence, journal writing, and guided meditations/exercises. It is our intention to return home with a more spacious relationship to death/dying and grieving—and as a result more capacity to embrace this wondrous life more fully.
Aug. 18 Day 1: Transit The journey begins. Depart USA around midnight, groggy but excited. Cross international dateline and lose an entire calendar day, which is made up on your return and which, if you’ve never experienced this phenomenon, is sort of cool.
Aug. 19 Day 2 : Candi Dasa BL Arrive at Bali’s new Denpasar airport mid-afternoon, where you are met, and and escorted to our amazing beachfront bungalows at Candi (pronounced Chaan-dee) Dasa in east Bali. Check in and unpack before gathering for opening circle, followed by dinner together. Enjoy a swim in hotel’s glorious infinity pool because obviously.
Aug. 20 Day 3: Candi Dasa B First morning session with Alexandra, and breakfast (this duo is repeated every morning—meditation, dreamwork, sharing, stretching). Then venture off by private bus to our waiting boats and enjoy a snorkeling excursion in a nearby coral reef preserve with views of Bali’s stunning Mount Agung. Back to Lotus Bungalows for lunch, and our first orientation session focusing on basic Indonesian manners & customs, including a demonstration of how to wrap your traditional sarong because that’s sort of important. At 5:30 we gather to spend the time with each other as a group—watch the sunset, meditate, group sharing, until dinner time.
Aug. 21 Day 4: Candi Dasa B Morning session with Alexandra in the yoga space. Breakfast, and our second orientation/language session focusing on Bali’s unique religious composition and caste system. Excursion to east Bali, with a visit to the royal palace, and time-travel back to the Dutch colonial era. Onward to Tirtagangga, a stunning “water palace” built by the region’s last Raja (king). Swim in the crystal clear, Olympic-sized freshwater pool, followed by lunch in the gourmet restaurant overlooking the palace grounds. On the trip back, visit an incredible organic chocolate factory owned by a man named Charley (seriously). During Happy Hour, Made Surya will discuss the role of the Balian—Bali’s traditional healers. After dinner at the hotel, another session with Alexandra.
Aug. 22 Day 5: Candi Dasa B Morning session with Alexandra, then breakfast. Third orientation/language session, on bargaining, then A visit to nearby Tenganan aboriginal village, where Bali’s finest basket making and textile weaving takes place, and where we enjoy a personal demonstration of calligraphy and weaving. Finally, a visit with our first traditional healer. After lunch in Candi Dasa, the afternoon is free. Happy Hour seminar with Made Surya on Bali’s history, followed by final dinner in Candi Dasa. Evening meeting with Alexandra.
Aug. 23 Day 6: Ubud B Morning session with Alexandra, then breakfast with final orientation/language session. Depart Candi Dasa for Ubud, Bali’s “cultural center,” stopping along the way to visit the 11th century Hindu/Buddhist temple at Goa Gadjah, the “Elephant Cave.” Check into our hotel, and then a brief walking tour to acquaint you with local amenities and purchasing sarongs. Late afternoon meet with Alexandra in the yoga space. Amazing evening performance of Kecak (Ramayana) dance and fire trance dance, followed by dinner.
Aug. 24 Day 7: Ubud B D Morning session with Alexandra in the Yoga space, followed by breakfast. Seminar with Made Surya on Balinese Rites of Passage: Birth, Initiation into adulthood, Marriage, and Death. Then we have an excursion to a cremation ceremony at the village cremation grounds. Late afternoon, we travel to the temple of Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring for a purification ceremony in the healing waters, followed by a visit to the temple for meditation. This evening we will have dinner together, and Alexandra will lead a discussion on impressions of the days activities with Made Surya, along with a guided meditation and sharing.
Aug. 25 Day 8: Ubud B Morning session with Alexandra, followed by breakfast. Excursion to south Bali to the home of a famous trance channeler, to watch her work with different clients, and with Made Surya translating. Each trip member will meet her, and experience a “reading.” Lunch at the home of your guide, Made Surya, meet the family, and tour the compound, including the family temple. In the afternoon, we visit the compound of a High Priest, for an interview, including questions, and a purification ceremony for each trip member.
Evening performance of Jegog, giant bamboo Gamelan described as the “Sounds of the Earth, accompanied by traditional dance.
Aug. 26 Day 9: Ubud B Morning session with Alexandra, followed by breakfast. Then we visit artists and craftsmen in their home studios, beginning with a factory in nearby Pejeng, where they create beautiful batik in the traditional way, then on to a compound of shadow puppet makers and performers. Our final visit is to the home of one of the few carvers on the island who creates sacred masks. Today is the full moon, and all the Bali-Hindu’s will go to their temples and make offerings, and we will join them. Evening session with Alexandra.
Aug. 27 Day 10 Munduk BD Morning meeting with Alexandra and then breakfast and check-out. Depart for island tour of volcano country and north Bali. We wind our way through stunning landscapes and Bali’s fruit and vegetable basket, stopping at the fruit and flower market, and Pura Ulun Danu, Bali’s most beautiful temple, named for a goddess, floating on a small island in a volcanic lake. Arrive in Munduk mountain village early afternoon, have lunch, and check into hotel. Late afternoon meet at the Sunset Bar for a talk with Made Surya on symbols Balinese use in the cremation ritual, and deification of the ancestors. Evening, we will have the first of our family-style group dinners, followed by Alexandra’s evening session.
Aug. 28 Day 11 Munduk BD Morning session with Alexandra, then breakfast, followed by a gorgeous, relatively easy trek through the neighboring countryside: small villages, rice fields, coffee and clove plantations, culminating at the magical Growing Stone. Late afternoon meet at the Meditation Bale for a session with Alexandra. Evening meal together followed by optional ethnographic film: Lempad of Bali.
Aug. 29 Day 12 Munduk BD Morning session with Alexandra and breakfast. Depart the hotel for a trek through coffee and clove plantations to Bali’s highest waterfall. In the afternoon meet with Made Surya who will interview a local Priest affiliated with the Temple of the Dead. After this, a session with Alexandra. Evening dinner together. Ethnographic film “Kawitan” on ceremonies connected with death in Bali.
Aug. 30 Day 13 Munduk BD Alexandra’s final session and breakfast. Free day until final Happy Hour together—a time to ask unanswered questions. Guided meditation, group sharing/discussion, closing ceremony. Final dinner together, followed by a performance of music and dance by the local village dance and gamelan group.
Aug. 31 Day 14 Transit After breakfast, depart for the airport and your flight home, or stay on and enjoy more of Bali and Indonesia.
Our Hotels: www.lotusbungalows.com/
No one is expected to join every activity, however there will be no refunds for any missed activities, and anyone who leaves the tour at any time, for any reason, is on their own.
- Round-trip airfare from San Francisco or LAX
- Airport transfers and all mini-shuttles
- Daily group sessions with Alexandra
- Snorkeling excursion in Candi Dasa (excluding mask and fin rental)
- Attendance at three traditional dance & music performances
- Guided tours of Tenganan aboriginal village,Tirtagangga Water Palace, Karangesem royal palace, chocolate factory,home/studio of a master carver of sacred masks, Ulun Danu and Goa Gajah Temples, Ogoh Ogoh Museum, fruit and flower market
- Treks through the neighboring countryside: small villages, rice fields, coffee and clove plantations, culminating at the magical Growing Stone, and Bali’s most magical waterfall.
- Purification ceremony at Tirta Empul sacred springs, attendance at full-moon ceremonies in local temples. A traditional cremation ceremony.
- Breakfast every day, Lunch in your guides family compound, four family-style dinners in Munduk
- Seminars and talks on rites of passage, bargaining, history and politics, trance and sacred masks, local customs and culture, language, Hindu religion & caste system, traditional healers, rites of passage, symbolism in cremation, ancestor worship
- Visit and a reading with a trance channeler
- Purification & visit with a High Priest.
- Undying services of Madé Surya & Judy Slattum, Bali specialists.
- Four nights in Candi Dasa
- Four nights in Ubud cultural center
- Four Nights in Munduk mountain village
- A copy of Alexandra’s book Honoring Grief
- Pre-trip information. On-site handouts. And more
- Meals that are not noted in above itinerary (expect $6-$12 per meal)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Laundry services
- Overweight baggage fees
- Snorkel equipment rental (just a few bucks)
- Any additional activities or excursions not listed
Trip Cost: $3667.00, includes airfare from LA or San Francisco.
NOTE: Price is based on double-occupancy room, each with private bath (all hotels have western amenities and two have swimming pools). Includes full breakfast, excursions listed, classes and workshops, services of Judy and Surya, along with several orientation and language sessions. Also includes all hotel transfers, land arrangements. Please note that an unexpected rise in fuel taxes may influence the final price. Those arranging their own air travel will be responsible for transfers from the airport to hotel and back. Minimum 10 participants, maximum 16. Ground only, deduct $900.00.
Deposit: A payment of $500.00 per person is required at the time of booking. Final payment is due June 1, 2018.
Cancellations and Refunds: For the flight portion, cancellation will be governed by the rules and regulations as listed in the flight contract by the participating airline. For the land portion, a cancellation fee of $350.00 will be collected up to 60 days prior to departure, after which half the final payment will be refunded. No refunds will be made from one week before departure. Trip cancellation and medical evacuation insurance is highly recommended.
Baggage: Two (2) pieces of luggage, not exceeding 62 inches. Each cannot exceed 50 lbs. Pack light. It’s Bali.
Accommodations: All accommodations are based on two persons sharing a twin bedded room with private, western-style bath. Single supplement available for $430.00 additional
Roommates: Single folks may sign up for accommodations desired on a share basis and will be assigned a (totally awesome) roommate as circumstances permit. We draw some very cool people. If a roommate is unavailable, the participant will be notified of the adjusted price for a single supplement:$430.00.
Passports, Visa & Health: A passport, valid six months from date of entry with proof of onward transportation. Indonesian free visa for 30 days granted on arrival to US citizens. No inoculations are suggested or required, except the one against fear and/or worry your guides.
About Alexandra: Alexandra Kennedy MA MFT is a psychotherapist in private practice (39 years) and author of Honoring Grief: Creating a Space to Let Yourself Heal, Losing a Parent, The Infinite Thread: Healing Relationships Beyond Loss, and How Did I Miss All This Before? Waking Up to the Magic of Our Ordinary Lives. Lecturing at universities, professional organizations and major conferences, she offers a unique perspective to grieving through her work with the imagination, weaving together case histories, practical advice, and experiential exercises. Alexandra has been interviewed in USA Today, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Examiner, New Woman and the Boston Herald as on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation and” CNN’s “Sonja Live”. She is an adjunct faculty member of John F Kennedy University (since 2003), was a faculty member of University of California Santa Cruz Extension for twelve years and at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology for eleven years. Her articles have appeared in Yoga Journal, Mothering Magazine, The Monterey Herald, Magical Blend, and the California Therapist.
Tour Organizers/Leaders: Made Surya would be considered a unique individual in any culture. Born in Denpasar, the capitol city of Bali, his father was a freedom fighter against both the Dutch and Japanese. After the war his father became an undercover policeman, until his nightly meditation sessions revealed his calling as a Hindu priest. A religious scholar, his studies eventually placed him in the Office of Religion (Parisada Hindu Dharma). As his eldest son, Surya was given private religious instruction to prepare him to take over as head of the 400 year old family compound. His parents, with help from academic scholarships, also managed to put Surya through graduate school.
He is also a performer of traditional mask dance, a mask carver, and is frequently asked to sing Kawi religious texts at ceremonies.
Thirty-one years ago Surya married Bali scholar Judy Slattum (Masks of Bali, Spirits of an Ancient Drama, Chronicle Books, 1992) and together they organize and lead theme trips for visitors to Bali. One of these trips, The Healing Arts of Bali, involves bringing visitors to the homes of Balinese Healers to watch them work and answer questions. Through this, Surya has become familiar with and in many cases, close to some of Bali’s foremost Healers.
Two years ago Dr. Sukie Miller, Former Director at Esalen Institute asked Surya to be Senior Researcher in Bali for the Society for the Study of the Afterdeath. This involved interviewing 25 of Bali’s foremost religious authorities regarding Bali’s belief systems, and recording the previously undocumented information. Once complete, Dr. Miller asked Surya to continue into the more specific question of why children die young.
For eight years Surya has conducted trips for the Institute of Noetic Sciences, on traditional healing, and family and community relations in Bali. Part of the process involves intricate philosophical translation with the Healers and Western health care professionals, especially psychotherapists.
Presently he is working with Dr. Adi Putera writing the first book in English on Traditional Healing practices in Bali