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Spirituality in Bali: Behind the Bullshit

I call it the Baliverse. Is Bali really a spiritual place? Yes. Is Ubud full of fake coaches and pretentious tossers? Also yes. Ubud has two polar opposites: the yogis and the digital nomads. Which one will you be if you were to go?

After spending two months in Ubud I’ve gotta say that there are more fake humans with no guts than true spiritual souls. Spirituality has become a product, and youth / sexual appropriation is sometimes the end goal when selling “freedom” in places like The Yoga Barn, Ubud.

Old men dancing with young women, people with no life experience selling life coaching packages. Are you really sure you know what to expect from Ubud?

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Podcast Script

Hi, guys. And welcome back to Perla Meets The World! Obviously, I’m still in Bali. I am at the Yoga Barn, in Ubud, and quite frankly it’s a beautiful place to do yoga, meditation, to do some dancing as well. You have different classes, events happening, parties, etc. But taking that the monthly membership price is very caucasian (quite pricey) here I am, making the most of it to record this podcast with this beautiful background.

In this episode, I talk about my spiritual journey, and why I am losing faith in spirituality. Let’s start!

Coming To Ubud, Bali

I came to Bali to heal from a breakup, to get some answers as to what to do next, and to also understand what my purpose is in life, not only the material life, as in my ideal job, but also the spiritual: what am I supposed to be doing? I believe in reincarnation, and so I was in search of my purpose in this lifetime. And I have to say that, after searching for a while, to be looking for answers outside of yourself is not a good idea. 

Every single day we are so overwhelmed with our emotions, thoughts, with things we have to do. Stress, anxiety, depression, worries, doubt, obligations…that we lose touch with ourselves. So when we feel discouraged, when we feel that we are very low, when we feel that we have no energy anymore, when we feel that we are desperate, that there’s no solution for our problems, we are literally losing touch with ourselves. And then confusion kicks in, and in my case, a need for answers became the only way to cope with reality.

About Meditation

Surprisingly enough, we do have the answers inside of us. We have the power inside. We only need to tap into it. When I meditate, I release myself from all these clouds full of thoughts and anxiety, worries, and feelings. And by doing so, I can clearly see that I am a capable woman of doing whatever I want and that, whatever I decide to do, I am going to be okay. And sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of that. 

When I meditate, my sole purpose is to go back to that state where I feel that no matter what happens to me, I am going to be OK: that I am not my thoughts. I am not my emotions. I am not my actions. I am not my behavior. I am more than that. I am the CEO of the whole thing. By observing myself and how my emotions and thoughts flow, I can tell that I am not what I am observing.

For example: imagine that you are observing in you a feeling of agitation growing. Observing it, makes you automatically something external from the agitation itself. You are not feeling of agitation. 

And when I was aware of the separation between my identity as human and my higher self, (what they call spirit, higher self, your true purpose, your soul), it blew my mind. Some things, like this one, resonate with me. Other things though do not resonate with me, like astrology. 

About Astrology

I didn’t want to keep a close mind. I wanted to open up to new experiences and I went to an Ayurvedic Astrology reading experience at the Yoga Barn, Ubud (Bali).

Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine (incorporated in Atharva Veda, the last of the four Vedas), which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing. 

I am not very well-versed in this topic, unfortunately, but the guy I saw to get the reading, (who by the way is an eminence here in Ubud) explained to me that my Dosha* (definition below) is Pitta, which means that I am like a volcano. That I have a lot, a lot of energy and fire inside of me, and I need to balance that fire not to get overly tired or overly excited. And it does resonate with me.

*(in Ayurvedic medicine) each of three energies believed to circulate in the body and govern physiological activity, their differing proportions determining individual temperament and physical constitution and (when unbalanced) causing a disposition to particular physical and mental disorders.

Following the Ayurvedic principles, he also recommended me avoid certain foods. I am not into western astrology because the whole thing is based on stars that are no longer there. So as you can imagine, after my meeting with him, I left very confusedly, because he told me what was likely to happen in the next year and a half, but he never told me how it would happen. And I think it’s something very common within the spiritual realm: no one gives you the ‘How’. It’s vague and sometimes even generic.

When I go to therapy, I talk to my therapist. I tell her all my doubts, and she (based on my mental structure, and my behavioral patterns) gives me some advice as to how to approach each situation. 

Selling spirituality in Ubud, Bali

Spirituality has become another product of capitalism. There are so many fake coaches, energy healers, reiki healers, energy facilitators, and spiritual guides here in Ubud, Bali, that it makes you lose faith in this. How can you tell the good ones from the rest, and what does ‘good’ mean anyway? Everything’s objective in this world, right? Whatever doesn’t work for me, might work for another person. 

So, maybe for other people, a 22-year-old life coach works perfectly, and the information delivered to this confused audience resonates. But to me, it’s just fucking bullshit. 

I’m not gonna tell you what to believe in because that’s not my place. What I will say is that based on my experience these two months in Ubud (Bali) no matter where you go, your problems are going to go with you. And maybe the place that you choose to heal can help you canalyse what you have inside, and release it. Or analyse it and understand it. Maybe accept it. Sometimes acceptance is all you need. 

For example: Okay, Perla, You are this way. And you do this when you feel triggered by this. Okay. Thank you for that information. Now I know more about myself. I am going to accept myself. And then maybe in the future, I’ll think about whether to change or not, but the following are not good reasons to change:

  • Because I have to please others
  • Because I have to fit into this person that I have to be
  • Because I am afraid of disappointing my family members
  • Because I’m afraid of ending up alone

If I want to change, it is because I want to change for myself. 

So, it doesn’t matter where you go, you have to figure out your own shit. If you put that obligation on others, you’re giving them control and power over your life.

My thoughts on religion in Ubud, Bali

As I’ve seen here, spirituality is mixed up with religion. Spirituality becomes a product, religion is imposed on you, and religion is used to actually release your obligation towards your own life and with your own self.

In the end, you are choosing a God that is going to decide your fate so that you don’t have to make your own decisions. it’s easier to blame a God. As I said before, I am as confused and sad as I was two months ago when I came to Ubud. I still have the same questions I had when I came here, and I probably will still have them until I face the life events that are going to take me to the answers. But if I don’t take action, if I don’t make my own decisions, if I don’t try and test, nothing will ever happen. That is how we should be living our lives, not just relying on religion.

“Religion is like a fish bowl in an ocean. You have the entire ocean to swim and explore, but instead, you choose to be safe in this fish tank.”

A friend of mine

5 Reasons why Ubud’s spirituality is bullshit

Everything is polarised in Bali. You are either a Yogi, spiritual person or you are not. There’s so much saturation of spiritual people that you either believe them, and join the ‘dark side’, or you become the antagonist, like ‘this is bullshit’ and you lose faith. I am in the middle. I don’t identify with the capitalist society, but I don’t identify with Ubud’s spiritual community either. And here are my 5 reasons why:

  1. They impose religion to you. It’s not user friendly or welcoming to all backgrounds, cultures and religions. Whether you like it or not, you’re gonna end up chanting to Shiva or Ganesha. If you don’t identify with their religion, you are going to feel like you don’t belong there. It’s not very welcoming.
  2. They prioritise beauty and sexuality most of the time over other things. When doing parties, when doing Cacao Ceremonies, when doing sound healing, it doesn’t feel genuine. It does feel that there’s an agenda to get money.
  3. If you belong to ‘the dark side’, you are automatically against medicine. You have to, if you want to belong to the yogis, or spiritual community in Ubud. 
  4. They sexualise everything, taking advantage of youth when doing ceremonies like the Supermoon party I attended two weeks ago. Seeing oldl men taking advantage of the freedom of women when releasing their femenine sensuality, and their tantric energy just to touch them, and to have sex with them made me sick. Also, everyone in the room was making weird moanings and sounds, very sexually. So, basically, are their true feelings only sexual? What if I don’t want to interaction interact in a sexual way though? You just are left there uncomfortable.
  5. When you go to places like Yoga Barn in Ubud, they don’t really manage the exchange of energy. When attending some events, the guide will tell you at the beginning to release everything that you have inside, and to do what you feel, to do what your body wants to do. But what if I am a psychopath or sociopath? What if I am a pervert? I don’t think it’s correct to let everyone do whatever they want, because we come from different backgrounds. We have different things in our heads, and we are in different journeys and mindsets at the moment and different moods all the time. I think it’s dangerous. It should be managed in a more secure and safe way, not for the for them, but for everyone in these practises.

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