Some of the fellow tourists I've come across in Bali have expressed an interest in visiting a Balinese healer while they were here. However none of them (including me) were as action oriented as Wendy. I met her in my neighborhood warung during a dinner, on her first night in Bali. Far from being jetlagged, she had already oriented herself in town, found a good massage place with very reasonable prices and had solid ideas how to spend the following few days. We chatted a little over dinner and parted. I saw her again two days later while I was rushing for yoga so our conversation was limited. She said she's already been to a healer the day before and she had another session scheduled for that day. Hmm, so someone actually did go to a healer? I wanted to get more information, I visited her bungalow in the afternoon. It seems I got the name wrong (it doesn't help when there's Dewa, Dewi and Dewi Sri bungalows on the same street, all within 200meters range) so I couldn't reach her.
Yesterday I went to the shower after the Yoga class to bump into Wendy again! Little K and the Yoga Barn share the same bathroom facilities and she was there to wash her hands before lunch. Her driver would come to pick her up in one hour and then she'd be off from Ubud to hop in other parts of Bali at least for another 3 weeks. Call this meeting in shower a coincidence or fate if you will :)
I sat with her for a while she summarized the herb walk, the museum visits and of course the healer sessions. She's visited 3 healers (all of them were mentioned in the Eat, Prey, Love... I read that book about a year ago and I don't seem to remember any of these details that people talk about.) Wayan has apparently became so famous after the book, she's sort of a healer celebrity by now. She has a team of employees and her signature treatment is 2 young and fit Balinese men giving you massage at the same time. After the massage you eat a very tasty vegetarian meal cooked by Wayan herself and receive a bag of various herbs that you should be taking for the following two weeks as a follow-up on your treatment. Later I googled Wayan on the internet and all blog posts about her were very similar in content.
Then there's the Holy Knife and the Jokordo-Rai. Wendy said she got the most out of her two sessions with Holy Knife. She was impressed by his genuine interest and enthusiasm. And he only worked with donations, so no celebrity fees... He was in a village near Ubud, but one needed to know exact location. Wendy had a solution for that too; her driver Ketut. She gave me his mobile and said that he should be free tomorrow, after dropping her off to the ferry terminal. After she left, I googled both Holy Knife and Jokordo-Rai and saw some positive comments about both. Jokordo-Rai was even mentioned in some scientific paper.
Determined, I called Ketut this morning after I came back from yoga. Ketut said he was on holiday for 3 days because of the Kuningan celebrations, but he said another driver could help. He forwarded my number to him and next thing I know I met Gusti on my street at 11:00 to go to Holy Knife. We reached to Mambal village in about 15 minutes. I was hesitant if Holy Knife would be busy with the Kuningan preparations but after a few minutes of waiting in the veranda, I am lead into his “treatment room”. Gusti follows me as he also needs to be my translator.
What I call the treatment room simply is an open-air elevated platform, covered with a bamboo mat, no bigger than 1x2 meters. Holy Knife sits on one end and I sit in front of him, with my back turned. He starts by examining my head and asks via Gusti if I have itchy head... that's not an impressive start. I don't have an itchy head or scalp. What happened to all these miracle stories I heard or read? Wasn't it just two days ago that a famous soccer player visited him and just by looking, Holy Knife identified that he had problems in his ankle and both knees? I tell him no, my head is fine in terms of itchiness and he moves a little lower to my shoulders. He taps, massages, pokes and then touches a point on my right shoulder. He asks if I have problems with my sight. Being near-sighted as long as I can remember I confirm. Now this gives a little more confidence... He touches s point on my lower back, then on my shoulder for a long time. I thought he was trying to adjust some problems with my lower back but Gusti says all that is for my eye. Meanwhile, I figure out where the name Holy Knife comes from. When he finds a problem spot, he pressures it with the dull edge of a very old knife that he holds in his hand. When he's poking the knife, I see that even Gusti jumps a little in his seat.
Everytime Holy Knife finds a sensitive area which is very painful, I either groan or jump in reflex. Everytime he sees me squirm in pain, Holy Knife lets out a happy, almost childish laughter. For a few seconds I feel uncomfortable, here I am in pain caused by his metal knife and he can laugh about that? But then I realize that he laughs as a sign of relief, as to say “see, I found the sore spot and releasing you from your pain”. Or maybe I started imagining things due to the pain combined with the humid noon heat... He checks some more around my lower back and sides, as if trying to touch my internal organs then asks me to sit facing him, with my legs straight out towards the front.
For a minute I consider telling him “Look I have problems with my lower back, my knees are weak and my left hamstring is so tight that you would think it belongs to a marathon runner. Shall we focus on some of these areas instead of itchy scalps or near-sighted eyes?” Then immediately I am ashamed of myself for thinking like this and being a control freak again. I smile to him and let him do whatever he feels in my body. He's scanning my legs just by hovering his hands a few centimeters over them. In the worst case, there's always the option of the super- osteo Malcolm when I go back to Dubai. Then he lets out an “ah-haaa” and points his knife to my right knee. I couldn't agree more. Now this time instead of poking my knees with his scary knife, he pulls out a bone, shaped like a half circle and about 7-8cm in diameter from his toolbox. He dips one end of the bone to some dark-colored oil and then presses that end to the back of my knee, from the middle to the left side a few times, as he wants to cut something. This time it is more painful so I shout, which seems to please him a lot. He does the same with my left knee too, but this time with a smaller bone of the same shape. As this knee is less painful, I let my mind wonder wonder what else is in his toolbox? Then he massages some oil to my lower legs and to the front part of my feet to enable blood circulation.
It's a shame that Gusti's English is just very basic. Holy Knife constantly talks to him but he cannot translate any of that to me. At the same time, there are a million things I would like to ask but I just cannot convey.
Then Holy Knife figures out the most dreaded point of pain for me. There's this spot right in the arch of my left foot which gives me considerable pain. The reflexology therapists I visited said it's stomach, gall bladder, upper back, small intestines and many other things I forgot by now. But the pain gradually increased over the last 3-4 years and I got no relief through massage, detox, hydrotherapy, let alone figuring out what actually causes that pain. So, before I could say “please be careful, this spot is really sensitive and it hurts a lot”, Holy Knife pokes his knife there as hard as he can. I start to cry – that is the best thing I could do in that moment. I shout “stop” and try to pull my foot back, but the more I pull back, the harder he pushes. He pauses for a second and I have time to wipe the tears from my face. Gusti watches us in horror and then Holy Knife starts to do the same cutting motion from the center of my foot towards the left. I know that trying to escape wouldn't help so all I can do is to cry more. But the pain is intense, it burns so much that I cannot even describe. Once he's done and I catch my breath, I ask “what the hell was that?” Unfortunately language becomes a barrier again. All I understand is that I had enemies in my family or in my office, but now Holy Knife cut their connection to me. I don't know, cannot think... I am drained. I ask if I need to come again for a second session and he says unless any pain persists in my body, I am good to go and don't need to return.
While I am catching my breath, he gives a little demo. He pushes the knife to a random point in my body and I feel nothing. He pokes one of the problem areas with the same amount of pressure and I immediately jump. He says that it's only the pain areas that respond to the knife.
I thank him a million times, leave my little donation and get back to the car. Then I notice something interesting. I had these floaters in my left eye; two black dots that would float around especially when I was under intense light conditions. I asked two ophthalmologists in the past and both said it was a natural formation; nothing to be afraid of and nothing to do about it. As the light reflects back from the side-view mirror, I don't see my floaters. I look towards the sun, then down, move my eyes left and right but they are gone! I explain that with great enthusiasm to Gusti and he's happy too. Seizing the moment, he gives it another try “But you don't have itchy head? Never?”
On the way back, I don't talk at all. My foot is still burning with pain and I feel really tired. As he drops me back to my street, Gusti emphatically says “I hope you feel better soon!” I really wonder what a mess I must be looking like. I go to my room, lay down but cannot sleep although that's all I wanted to do for the rest of the day. About 20 minutes later I get up and feel like stretching a little. The second surprise of the day; my left hamsting can stretch as much as my right. It is not super-flexible but hey, none of that pulling feeling which limited my left leg significantly compared to my right. Now when I do a standing-up forward bend I can rest both my palms next to my feet, keeping my toes and fingers in the same line. A first in my life! I've been whining about my left hamstring ever since I started practicing yoga, so what will I complain about now?
Feeling a little more adventurous, I proceed to try a half-lotus on both sides in turn. Both knees comply without the pinching pain feeling. Now this is too good to be true... So Balinese healers really do heal multiple persisting problems in one session? I still feel very very tired and my left foot still burns but I guess when body gets rid of so many ailments in one go, the least it can do is to feel exhausted.
I am really curious how I will feel when I wake up tomorrow morning, and then after tomorrow's yoga session. Will my hamstrings still be flexible, knees less sensitive and no floaters in my eye? Depending on how I would feel in the coming days, I may consider another visit to him. This was really intense and tearful but worth every bit of it.
I quit the allopathic medicine few years back, doctors and hospitals are not an option for me when I'm sick. Ironically, since I stopped taking pills or using chemicals, I rarely get sick anyways... Not that allopathic medicine ever really treated the root of a disease yet even if you choose to go that road – it just suppresses the symptoms. I believe that if we provide the right conditions for it (lower the stress, reduce intake of toxins, get sufficient rest, sunshine and natural nutrition) our bodies are totally capable of healing themselves. This visit to the Holy Knife was the perfect example for me. Whichever way I feel when I wake up tomorrow, today will be a day o be remembered for a very very long time.