In Bali, when the locals fall sick, they do not visit a doctor immediately. Instead they go to a traditional healer because people there believe that the cause of all ailments is body disharmony.
There are over 5,000 healers, more than doctors, on the island – dubbed as the abode for wellness – offering Balinese Hindus and foreigners a holistic path.
The healers, better known as Balians, aim to promote physical, emotional and spiritual balance through various kinds of rituals for every imaginable life event – from cleansing sickness to marriage, birth and cremation.
As shamans they have the unique ability to communicate with the world of spirits of ancestors and perform specific ceremonies daily to link between the physical and the ethereal.
One of the leading experts on the island is Ibu Jero, a fifth-generation healer who helps people get rid of their emotional baggage, blockages and illnesses.
After spending a month on research for a top healer, I made a trip to Bali to meet Niwayan Widyartining, popularly known as Ibu Jero, a Balinese high priestess in Jimbaran.
I stepped foot into a sacred courtyard made up of ancestry temples, a house, waiting area and therapy room to the strong smell of incense.
During the day, Ibu Jero is often booked by foreigners and in the evening to past midnight, over 60 locals seek her touch daily for many types of issues.
“This is a gift that has been passed down to me by my ancestors. I studied the healing techniques while helping my grandfather and father,” said Ibu Jero, before offering prayers at the five shrines of her ancestors and starting her session.
She made me rest on my back on a massage bed in a room which had a sitar tune playing in the background.
She rubbed her hands with essential oil, chanted a mantra and then placed crystals on my seven chakra centres – root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown – which are all tied to physical and emotional problems in the body.
The crystals used were citrine, aquamarine, turquoise, amethyst, clear quartz, mixed crystals and some herbs, encouraging physical, emotional and spiritual healing.
Ibu Jero said crystals are used to positively interact with my body’s energy field and restore balance.
She positioned both her hands on my sore shoulders and later placed her right hand on my heart and knew about the aches I was having although I had told her nothing.
Twenty minutes into the silent therapy, both my legs experienced some cramps before my toes started to twitch, and I felt some warmth being released from my sole.
She also incorporated Reiki-style techniques by placing her hands around my body to draw out negative thoughts, trauma and past problems.
Ibu Jero yawned, burped and breathed deeply during the 60-minute session.
I felt lighter and experienced instant relief from my aches and pain.
It was as if she had cleared the pathways in my body meridians and infused fresh energy that made me feel invigorated, contented and grounded.
According to Ibu Jero, the therapy she performed was linking me with nature and the cosmos, body, mind and spirit, all focused on uplifting inner harmony.
She said it was supposed to melt away tension, calm the psyche, remove toxins and improve circulation.
“One session can last you for many months or even a year. Some people return for repeated therapy owing to work or family stress, anger, childhood issues or feeling disconnected,” she said.
Ibu Jero urges her guests to maintain themselves with daily exercises like yoga, meditation, spiritual practices, sweetness of speech, love and compassion.
“People should develop acceptance of their past, rediscover, embrace change, view life with positivity, and move forward.
“Some individuals come to me not because they are sick but want to be better people who lead happier lives.
“I guide them by healing their heart, mind and soul with love and allow them to make their own decisions,” she said, adding that “if one’s life force energy is low then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy”.
Ibu Jero said there was no quick fix and she empowers people towards a new lifestyle and prepares them to take it home.
Her transformative therapies give people the opportunity to relax, reassess, reposition, recharge and develop an improved understanding of oneself and of the world around them.
Among the treatments she offers are energy clearing, past-life clearing to release sub-conscious blocks, childhood issues cleansing, chakra balancing, repairing personal injury and removal of dark forces.
She also takes visitors to the healing waters of a chakra fountain by the river in Ubud for purification.