I’m not one to look for signs—especially not ones meant solely for me. Generally, I imagine that the universe has better things to do than give me direction. Blame it on my pragmatic parents and my New York City upbringing.
But—even for less cosmically-alert souls like me—there are instances that feel designed to demonstrate that we are standing in the right spot.
That was how I felt as I basked in a sleek plunge pool one morning in November at the Mulia Spa in Nusa Dua, Bali. I had just finished a sunrise yoga class. The air was warm and smelled of fragrant frangipani flowers (sweet like honeysuckle), which dangled off branches above, sometimes fluttering to the water’s surface. Even the coolest pool was comfortable thanks to the balmy air.
I was looking towards an entire day of healing wellness treatments, which seemed like an impossible indulgence. (I work as a writer and editor and am the mother of a toddler; I rarely get two hours alone, let alone an entire day at a spa. A week in Bali is like a dream.)
As if all of that wasn’t extraordinary enough, at the instruction of a more observant companion (perhaps one who doesn’t miss signs), I glimpsed upwards and was floored by a natural phenomenon I had never before witnessed: A circular rainbow!
It appeared like a ring around the sun (which scientists called a “halo”). And it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
One of my companions joked (with serious undertones) that this might be an indicator of the coming apocalypse; another wondered if we should be looking at it straight on. Mostly, though, we felt humbled by what is possible in nature. Especially when, after some time, the world didn’t end.
Bali is an amazing place. I’m not the first to suggest that, of course. But I can confirm that it’s special.
I didn’t travel there to find myself à la Elizabeth Gilbert for Eat, Pray, Love or even to become a certified Vinyasa flow teacher like Live The Process founder, Robyn Berkley (although now I would love to do that). I went there simply to relax. And that’s exactly what I began to do as soon as I walked along the beach at The Mulia the first day, watching locals collect multi-colored seaweed that I’d only before seen in small portions paired with ponzu sauce at Japanese restaurants.
The trip was extraordinary from the get-go. I spent copious time poolside lolling and took visits to towns like Seminyak, which proved to be the perfect combination of authentic and curated. (We stopped into one restaurant called, Sardine, that was literally on a rice patty!) We trekked up to incredibly lush Ubud, where I could have happily explored for many more days. And I have to admit that I whiled away one of my favorite afternoons alone in a villa, dangling my feet in the pool, reading an engrossing novel, sipping coconut water straight from a coconut and stuffing my face with Balinese congee and fresh fruit. (That sounds especially good in the midst of this frigid winter.)
But, not surprisingly, nothing was as indulgent and healing as my day at the spa. The resort recently introduced their Lifestyle Wellness Program, which involves a combination of treatments that leaves you feeling balanced and happily loopy. Each guest chooses from a list of services and also makes the rounds with the cleansing steam, sauna and ice rooms. I opted for a Balinese Massage, Dead Sea Salt Scrub and White Crystal Lymphatic Facial with Reiki and Auric Cleansing. And then I got my hair blown out because...why not? The tropical aromatherapy alone was enough to lull anyone into a stupor. In between, I snacked on healthy meals packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, which left me feeling sated and light.
Suffice it to say that I was slathered, realigned and primped to a state of total relaxation. And then in ended.
Of course, a wellness day like that one is fleeting. We can’t treat ourselves that way every single day. We return to the world; to reality, and that’s what makes the experience special. But I believe in the benefits of leaving one’s comfort zone to travel, then looking back and remembering something beautiful or a moment of ease. I believe in the lasting benefits of letting go and releasing stress—even if only for a moment.
Even if it’s as rare as glimpsing a circular rainbow around the sun.