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Indulgence vs Kindness: Debate of the Heart

Written by Laila Ghattas 02/16

Like many of you, I waffle about whether I’m inappropriately indulging myself by coming to Bali; each year questioning the risk of financial investment, leaving beloved home and family, traveling solo far away, spending so much energy in preparation from my long trip.

Yet each year I do leap, it’s a big leap. Yes, again, to offer the Bali Retreat which you may be surprised to know is more a labour of love than a sound business decision. As a business decision the costs and time rarely break even for what is involved throughout the year to promote and facilitate the annual retreat. And yet, for 12 retreats, I’ve chosen to create a program and see who, brave soul that you are, is ready to let me share this exquisite place and the healing journey that unfolds.

Because of this business fact of life I’ve chosen to end my annual offerings to individuals with this last March 5 – 11 Blossoming Confidence in Bali program. I’m ending the Bali retreat legacy with a bang by including the incredible Nyepi parade and Day of Silence in the itinerary.

In future, focus will be on small groups who want to come together for a custom designed personal growth experience. It’s kinder to me and finally I’m including my own business needs in the retreat equation.

Many people I’ve spoken to over the years initially hesitate to come to Bali because they are afraid to invest on an international flight, luxury hotel and expert facilitation. Scared to go far away, a long plane ride to a foreign land. To give themselves something as BIG as this kind of adventure.

I go through the same thing. What is this worth? What am I worth?

But mostly I think people feel unconsciously threatened by not knowing what they are going to find out about themselves, their lives, what they can no longer ignore and leave as is. It’s easier to say no based on expense rather than potential personal insight and clarity.

You can’t actually put a price on consciousness. Or life improvement. That's what I've been learning since starting to invest in this annual adventure since 2004.

To balance things out, while I’m here prior to the retreat I stay in modest hotels in the most basic rooms. Luckily, basic in Bali can be pretty damn sweet. Like these amazing hotels in a new part of Ubud I explored because my regular hotel charges in $US. The up side to the poor exchange rate inspired offering the retreat in CAD, and got me to a great hotel solution at $30-$45 CAD/ room/night. That’s an air conditioned room with private terrace overlooking rice fields or garden, with complimentary tea and coffee, sometimes buffet breakfast.

That’s how I manage to stay an extra month. Local meals are also very modest, averaging $3 -10. I don’t indulge in the palatial $60 -85 rooms, because I’m already kindly giving myself the extra month here. The math works better for me to buy time rather than extra luxury.

I was really surprised to see how many other solo women were in the dinning room, at least 7 different women travelers came to breakfast while I was chatting with other Canadians I met. In Ubud it’s SO EASY to meet and connect with other travelers and hear their stories of indulgence vs kindness regarding life choices that include Bali either as destination or work place.

One lovely young woman I met from Denmark was feeling miserable at the end of her 2 week stay. She chose to do a meditation on her second last day at one of the yoga places here, and from that experience realized she was unhappy because she was returning too soon, her dates were not aligned to her needs. So she changed her ticket and added another 2 weeks, taking more time off work and allowing herself to really enjoy her adventure now that she was more seasoned about traveling solo without her boyfriend.

She stayed in the same modest priced rooms I chose, and gave herself 2 nights treat in the luxury room where she said she felt like a queen! Was she self indulgent or was she listening to her inner voice that said she needed this experience? She had no regrets at all and in that extended time was positively influenced by new experiences and people, one of whom was me as I advised her on applying a spiritual solution to a work situation.

Three times I’ve returned to Bali without a retreat to warrant the trip, fearful of the unstructured indulgence and yet I had to come. When I arrived and as the weeks unfolded, I understood why. Kindness was leading me back to what was becoming my second home.

I followed my heart rather than indulge my fears and fantasies.

My soul needs this breathtaking configuration of peace and beauty. My heart opens receiving the gracious Balinese kindness and generosity. My body thrives swimming the relaxing hours in salt pool overlooking rice fields or the sea. My health revives with the organic exotic fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish, the aromatic spices and more aligned modest appetite.

My mind inhales the creative inspirations at every turn. My ambition flourishes in the opportunity to experiment with a brand new venture in designing fabrics and clothing that are infused with my committed healing intention in this life.

I was profoundly soothed in Bali those difficult years after my mother passed and my father eventually relocated to a smaller home, replenishing what it took out of me in the complex exhausting process of dismantling the family house.

Do I regret a penny I spend getting myself back on track with the loving embrace of Bali that fills my spiritual, physical and emotional well to the brim? Not even for a moment!

That’s the essence of the debate: If my choice helps me become more whole, a better person, expands my horizons and inspires extraordinary ideas and deeply rewards my risks, if I NEVER feel regret for going, how can it be a bad decision?

Sure it’s totally unconventional- financial planners would balk at my lifestyle. Thing is I’m writing these thoughts while enjoying the awesome and priceless advantages of knowing, accepting and loving who I am. The remainder of my time on this planet is already enriched with this blessing.

What I recognized in the first week being here this year is that Bali has taught me how to be nicer to myself, year in and year out. Encouraging me to take the hour and half spa session. Have the fresh salad along with the main. Hire the driver to take me to the sea and afford those seaside rooms because being by the sea is high on my reasons to come so far.

I'm kind to myself by staying an extra month before the retreat to focus on my spiritual work with local Balinese Holy people, my new clothing venture as well as prep for the program and finalize retreat details.

Bali teaches me over and again, each and every year that I am not my fears, not my worries, not the numbers in my life.

I am more than whatever might go wrong, not as planned, or sideways.

The sum of my parts is so much more than the doubting whispers. That’s the discipline. Not to be swayed by fears away from what feels aligned.

If you are on the fence about joining, please contact me and we’ll explore whether your struggle involves inappropriate indulgence or unfamiliar kindness.

I still shake my head in awe remembering the woman who came while unemployed last year, how her whole point of view shifted on retreat, and how the universe met her brave leap with 2 job offers. Such an inspiration. But that’s Bali.

This tiny island stretches you and me past comfort zones into true consciousness in the most loving and often unexpected ways.

Hope to see you on this last retreat.


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Laila Ghattas is an artist, Gestalt therapist and Reiki practitioner. She is creator of Laila Goddess Comfortwear.

She is an author, public speaker, group facilitator and the founder of Aziza Healing Adventures.

Laila expertly and uniquely combines creative self-expression with psychotherapy in programs designed to:

  • heighten self awareness,
  • inspire personal insight
  • and improve the life of those who participate.

Laila draws on her worldwide outdoor adventure experience to facilitate international healing retreats for women, couples, mixed groups and corporations.

She is available on retreats for individual therapy and Reiki sessions

Laila has a private practice in Toronto where she offers hourly personal growth sessions and private personal growth workshops for individuals and couples.

 About Aziza's Holistic Retreats and Art & Therapy Workshops Holistic, Wellness and Yoga Retreats for Women, Individuals and Couples Aziza's Art and Therapy Workshops and Classes Art and Therapy Home Classes Shop for Art, Holistic Gifts and Stylish Home Decor ItemsRegister for Aziza's Holistic Retreats, Women's Workshops, Kayak Tours, Yoga Retreats and Art & Therapy Classes