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Going to see a Balinese Healer, particularly those who are regarded as Usada (by some measures the most revered healers on Bali), is like going to see your doctor, your priest, and a high level foreign-government official all in one.  So the two words of the day are:

RESPECT

PATIENCE

Respect

Common sense of respect is a good place to start, but because of Bali’s unique culture, dress, behavior, and finances are all important considerations.

Dress — The expected dress when going to visit a Balian, or temple, holy site, priest(ess), or any other cultural official is a sarong. Yes, both women and men are expected to wear this wrap-around style skirt. Match the sarong with a t-shirt (that preferably covers the shoulders), and a temple scarf tied around the waist (any scarf/tie-belt will do).  A beach sarong, while not ideal, is acceptable if it covers everything, including the knees (see featured image).  If you didn’t bring one–don’t worry, they can be bought in every tourist strip in Bali.

Behavior — Don’t point. Don’t put your hands on your hips. Don’t point the bottoms of your feet at the healer. Don’t wear shoes on the upper levels or indoors. Don’t touch the healer’s head or face. Leave all attitudes, anger, prejudices, judgements, and timetables at the door.  If you want to be healed, you also need to forget any sense of urgency and Western notions of medical science. Healing occurs here on another level.

Contribution — While a Balian most likely has been spiritually called to be a healer, this is also his/her profession, and just like anyone, (s)he needs to eat.  Therefore, you are expected to make a donation for services rendered.  As directed on BaliHealers, “Foreigners should give at least 100,000rp. Think of what you pay your doctor! Your offering should never be less than what you are paying your guide or driver.” Local protocol suggests that you place the money inside a flower-palm leaf offering and present the offering using the right hand. Ask your hotel or the guide where to get offerings.

Patience

Bali, just like any island, runs on “island time.”  And when visiting a Balian, there are no appointments or set schedules. While people looking for help sometimes arrive as early as 8 in the morning, but it is not unheard of for those in dire need to go at 3am. Your guide/driver may coordinate a time for you to visit the healer, but even then the healer may not be home when you arrive.  Take this time to breathe, relax, meditate, observe your surroundings, and absorb the energy of the area. Don’t expect a Balian to follow your time schedule.  Once the healer arrives, he may chat with you for a bit, meditate, smoke a cigarette, make offerings, chant, or otherwise prepare himself for the full-on energy needed to work with a patient. The time he takes with each patient may vary according to their condition and willingness to accept his treatment–you may have only a 5-minute consultation or perhaps 1+ hour.  And in between each patient, he may wander off or repeat the same routine to renew his energy.

The other part of the patience you need is for the healing process itself.  If you expect to be cured in one session on your last day in Bali, you are dreaming.  People with serious conditions should expect to go regularly.  This is not a quick-fix you can do on your way to the airport. Once to twice weekly visits for months can produce the best results.  If relocating to Bali, nor regular visits, are feasible for you, plan to stay longer initially.  And go as early in your trip as possible–not the day before your flight. Expect to return for greater healing.

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