Randomly meeting Wayan Nuriasih, the world-famous healer from "Eat Pray Love," was different than I expected it to be.
Have you ever tried something that came highly recommended, only to realize that you don't think it deserves the hype?
My experience with Wayan was kind of like that. But let’s start our story at the beginning, in Ubud (Bali) in December 2019.
Blinded by the sunlight, I walk down the road just in front our hotel. There is no sidewalk so I’m focusing on not getting run over by the gazillions of vehicles that zip past me. It’s uncomfortably hot which doesn’t exactly add to the entire experience.
I have just made it a few meters to the left (yes, I’m using a system of measurement that makes sense, my dear Americans) when something catches my eye. In front of me was a sign, stating something about “Eat Pray Love.”
I pause, intrigued.
Realizing that the healer from "Eat Pray Love" works right next door
Now, Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book had a huge impact on my life. I had randomly picked it up at an airport in 2009, while flying to Canada for my friend’s wedding.
How exactly it impacted me is a long story so suffice it to say that it started my spiritual quest and indirectly changed my life.
Back to Bali in 2019. I’m honing in on the sign and it states that the person living in this house is the healer Wayan Elizabeth Gilbert described at length in her world-famous book “Eat Pray Love.”
I'm surprised. Is the person I read about all those years ago really located just two doors down from my hotel? I snap a picture of the sign and then walk back to our hotel.
In the hotel, I’m doing some research to find out if this is really the person I had read about so many years ago. She is. It’s weird to feel that I know something about someone I had never met.
I strongly consider doing a healing session with her… not because there’s something I want help with but because, well, she’s the healer from “Eat Pray Love.”
It’s my second time in Bali and it’s a disappointment. When I went to Bali in 2013 by myself (while living in Vietnam), it was amazing. I got to check out temples, attend spiritual rituals at sunrise, or sit at the beach and enjoy the sunset.
Granted, the “romantic sunset at the beach” I enjoyed in 2013 involved getting interrupted every two seconds by school kids who wanted to interview me for their homework, women who were determined to sell me something, or guys who tried to hit on me… but, hey, what the experience lacked in relaxation, it made up for in entertainment value.
Based on my first trip there, I had often told my husband how wonderful Bali was—something he had also heard from many other people.
Well, both my husband and I were in for a severe letdown: Bali was overrun by tourists, many interesting temples (the ones I had been able to visit just a few years ago) were closed to said tourists, and the famed Bali spirituality felt more like an oppressive religion.
My experience with Wayan Nuriasih
In desperate need of something that could make my disappointing second trip to Bali better, I redoubled my efforts to meet the healer from “Eat Pray Love.”
That’s how I found myself walking pasted her house multiple times per day, being careful about not getting run over by the vehicles (lest I not only need a healing session but also a trip to the hospital).
I wasn’t able to see hours or prices or anything except a sign instructing me that I have to cleanse myself (with incense and holy water) before entering the premises.
Personally, I thought it gave off a tad bit of a paranoid vibe but I was not to be deterred. So, I took to walking past the house at random times, to see if somebody was there.
Eventually, I was successful! When I finally was able to enter (thoroughly cleansed, of course) there were already a bunch of women waiting to be attended by Wayan.
Some had specifically come to Bali just to meet this miracle worker. People were singing her high praises. There was a newspaper article tacked to the side of a woman who said she owed Wayan Nuriasih her life.
While I was there, a woman handed Wayan a gift to show her gratitude for the results she had gotten:
Myself, I’ve worked with many extremely talented healers before and I wasn’t quite so impressed.
I don't even know how to describe the whole surreal experience that I had during the healing ritual I attended:
It included a dizzying array of healing potions applied in strange ways in a four-hour ceremony with strangers (I think at some point I had some potato mashup stuck around my knee). It ended with her encouraging us to join her network marketing company!?!
In the end, Wayan told us to return the next day for some potions. When I did, instead of selling me the potions, she tried to get me to do a healing session with her. I had no interest in this, given that I was neither that impressed with her results from yesterday, nor with her demeanor (I basically felt like she was talking over me a lot of the time).
The whole experience was so bizarre that I wanted to get someone else's perspective on it. So, I asked my husband to come with me to give me his take. He also found her behavior rather icky.
It was weird to say no to somebody who had played such an integral part in a book that had been so important to my life. And yet it was the right thing to do.
I don’t care how hyped Wayan Nuriasih is and how many people from across the entire globe she has helped—she’s not the right person for me. Even off the cuff, I can think of half a dozen healers I would rather work with.
What I learned from this
So, was it worth it to see her? I’d say it was worth it in the same way that trying to see the sunset at the beach in 2013 was worth it… it had a lot of entertainment value.
Will I come back? Definitely no.
The moral of the story is that you don’t have to trust the hype about anything, whether that is Bali or a world-famous healer. Popular opinion can be wrong.
Trust your own discernment and the discernment of people you can rely on and don’t be afraid of going against popular opinion.
Perhaps Wayan Nuriasih is the right healer for you. Perhaps she isn't. Only you can know.
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