I often felt uncomfortable in my former skin. I did not like wearing suits. I did not like pretending that I was impressed by expensive cars or clothes. I had my one fancy purse, that I bought years ago. I never wore expensive shoes. I always bought clothes on sale. I knew I was saving money for experiences and not stuff.
Most of all, I knew I did not belong in corporate America. I did not like to play the game, to engage in the office politics. It was a game I played pretty darn well, but did not like myself for it. I owned too many buddhas, and wished for a different life. I wanted to explore yoga more, listen to Balinese or Indian music, light incense, and engage in other similar activities.
I often felt like too much of a hippie for this world, this Square Town. I was a little too round. When I announced my plans to finally leave the profession, one of the partners said he heard I was running away to join an ashram. Close, but not quite.
Hippie Town Ubud
On the other hand, I am not so idealistic to swear off things like money. I made good money, I saved it, and as a result I am able to live a different lifestyle now in hippie town Ubud, Indonesia. Part of this lifestyle involves buying flowing pants and skirts, and wearing multiple bracelets and necklaces, one of them with a sitting buddha image on it. Did I mention the buddha tattoo on my back? And the other one on my wrist that reads “fearlessness” in Sanskrit. I get more and more hippified as I continue down this path of perpetual traveler and digital nomad.
Then, I arrived in Ubud, originally an artists’ colony that developed around the Balinese culture and the Hindu spirituality that exists in central Bali. The town’s tourist focus now includes plenty of restaurants for vegetarian, vegan, and even raw food. There are health food stores, supplements, green juices, detox programs, and plenty of healing initiatives. It is easily the most “hippie” place I have been to. I’ve started to call it Hippie Town Ubud.
I started to explore classes at the Yoga Barn, which can be both physically intense, as well as a bit more spiritual than I was used to at home. I became more used to chanting Om and Shanti, and was trying a lot harder to focus on meditating. I found myself trying to git in to the Hippie Town Ubud.
Early on, I attended an afternoon Sound Healing class. I had an unlimited pass and wanted to make the most of the various classes. It was a master class, with a half dozen healers playing percussion, using Tibetan bowls and crystal bowls, and many instruments I had just never heard of before. There were even a few didgeridoos. The leader wore a shiny brown satin two piece outfit, with a Native American beaded belt. He had long, flowing hair, and plenty of necklaces. Most of his brothers and sisters dressed similarly, other than the one percussionist from San Francisco.
We started the class by singing in a group – all about love and the world. I felt slightly uncomfortable, and not just because I am a terrible singer. Once we were told to lay down and just listen to the sounds and the vibrations of the music, I felt more comfortable. At some point in the class, I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder, to the point that I could not get comfortable, and I needed to roll over into a fetal position. I was not sure if that was the “healing” or what. In the end, I am glad I went, but at first it was a little too much for me. I have attended a few more sound healing classes, and in each one this pain in my left shoulder has occurred. It probably has something to do with healing, or energy flows, or meridians. Maybe there is some merit to this stuff. But, I remain skeptical.
I enjoy the spirituality of the Balinese culture of offerings and temples. There is something different about this island, and this town. Perhaps it is an energy, or merely a history and culture that concerns itself with evil spirits and honoring the ancestors.
I am settling in to life in Ubud a little more, becoming more used to the sing alongs and Sanskrit chanting. I am becoming a little more comfortable with being in such a chill place. We burn incense all day at the villa, I have been using an essential oil called “bliss,” and we even bought some healing crystals. Hook, line, and sinker.
Most of all, I try not to judge other people. The sound healers and other yoga teachers all have one thing in common – they are entirely comfortable with who they are as human beings. Which is not something I can say about most people back in the “real” world.
But, I still wonder, am I a little too square to fit into this Hippie Town Ubud? Do I fit in with the sparkle ponies and bliss ninnies? And, if I am too much of a hippie for the world I left, where do I fit in?
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.