Starting yesterday afternoon, a friend and I went on a search to see as many Balian healers (or those who are reputed as such) as possible.

We started with a list of 18 people that was compiled by a Balinese gentlemen who is largely regarded as the premier English-speaking expert on Balians.  Then we hired a driver & set off.

Yesterday, first stop: Balian Usada was not at home. Second stop: Channeler who is not allowed to work on that day, and every 3rd day, apparently. Third stop: Balian Urat, arrived home within about 10minutes of our arrival. (Definitions/explanations of Balians.)

This Balian Urat, called Pak Bejug, as is true of Urat, specializes in muscle and bone work.  My friend had him look at her back.  Using oil he massaged her back, poked and pulled at her feet, made her stretch and a few other techniques to ease her back pain.  The report today: no morning stiffness in her back, but she said it felt like it had moved further down to her gluteal area.

While we were there, a local guy came in who had fallen and twisted his ankle in the rice fields. That a local came in seeking help gave me confidence that this guy was for real and respected in the community.

The next day we set off with the goal of seeing 4 Balians.

We started with an appointment with another Balian Urat, personally recommended to me by the expert.  This Balian‘s name is Pak Made Partha and he specializes in sports injuries, sprains, bones, and back problems. As I was feeling a bit of neck soreness and he had no other patients, I volunteered to go first.  His super strong hands worked my neck, shoulders, behind my shoulder blades, arms, hands, head, face, and feet.  Woah! It was painful at times! One of the strangest experiences was him “popping” my forehead by pinching the skin and pulling it strongly away from my face. But also noteworthy was the finding and pressing painful points on my arm and hands, which was very similar to the method my TCM teacher/doctor used for my neck pain earlier this year.

My friend had her feet pulled, poked and massaged, and she says they still hurt. But her most memorable sensation was the “popping” of her forehead, as well.  During our visit, 2 local people with ankle problems came in, 1 with a shoulder problem, and one granny about 80 years old who had a broken wrist.  The granny had gone to a healer the day before who told her, ‘it’s not broken don’t worry.’  But when we saw her today her hand was about 4 times the size of the other one and the Balian‘s opinion: broken wrist.  He massaged and twisted her arm as a bone-setting technique before applying a splint and cast. I was absolutely floored by her pain tolerance.

The next destination: Pak Jero, specializing in unexplained illnesses. Not having any unexplained illnesses ourselves, we lucked out getting there just in time to see a local couple with such a problem.  This Balian‘s attention to them was the ultimate combination of spiritual, physical, and intention.  First the healer gave them, as well as the 3 of us (including driver) a small purification ceremony (yes, we each drank a full glass of dirty ‘holy’ water). Then using oil, and undoubtedly with much devoted intention massaged the husband’s feet, chest, back, head, neck and hands.  Next, again presumably with intention, he massaged the wife’s feet, neck, head, and hands. All of this was followed by another (though slightly different) purification ceremony for the couple.

Of course, the massage can help alleviate the husband’s insomnia, but according to the Balinese thinking, the real key is the intention of the healer and the spiritual side of purification.  In it, both the healer and the couple ask for help from the gods to remove their illnesses.  The Balian explained that the couple were suffering from these illnesses due to black magic (likely due to jealousy, he said).  He told us, the first time the man came, he had to be carried in as his illness was so severe he was unable to walk. In this, only the 2nd visit, the man had improved immensely (he was walking normally) and would probably be completely cured after this session.  This Balian‘s special ability is to see and track down sources, as well as remedies, of black magic; he even knew who had done the black magic on the couple. Fascinating.

The next stop was a channeler who was away for a wedding, so no luck there.

On to the last stop: Gusti Ngurah Rai, who reads people and gives advice.  Frankly I’m not sure if this is meant to be a fortune teller, a career advisor or what.  But I was definitely not prepared for my ‘consultation.’  With almost no information from me, he started telling me all sorts of things about my ‘luck,’ what I could be successful in, my health, my relationship with my parents, significant other, my ‘energy’ or ‘power,’ and that I should/could? live in Bali in 5 years.  Out of all of it, the only thing he got right: recognizing my finicky digestive system.  Hmmm…

My friend’s report was slightly better (or more accurate) than mine. Our driver’s assessment, based on his own consultation, was that this guy was totally off. What was most striking for both my friend and I was when he asked us to hold up our palms and he felt like he was drawing lines on our palms from about 3 inches away.  We both could very distinctly feel a warm, almost magnetic or electricity-like sensation on our palms in the pattern he was drawing.  If this wasn’t Qi sensation taken to a whole new level of tangibility, I don’t know what is.

Reflecting on the last 1.5days of visiting Balians, my original post still holds true: patience.  But seeing so many different types, styles, and approaches in a short amount of time, the key is really to keep an open mind.  Be flexible.  Seek less to understand and more to feel. Get a sense of the energy of the place–see if it resonates with you.

And while I say, keep your mind and senses open, don’t go in totally gullible or with full naivete.  Critical thinking skills may still come in handy to see who is real to you, who you believe, and who you don’t. Regardless, enjoy the full experience for what it’s worth: a cultural lesson, and possibly, a healthier you.


P.S. If you’re looking for the list of Balians, send me an email with promises that you’ll treat the list (and the healer) with respect and protection it deserves.