We Are All Unsettled

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."

- Joseph Campbell

How perfect that I found and posted this quote just one year ago today...

Kertiyasa Bungalo, our home for November

Kertiyasa Bungalo, our home for November

Unsettled: Croatia

Unsettled: Croatia

At the beginning of 2017, I wrote in my journal that I'm either going to do hit all 50 states by van or travel internationally. I hadn't travelled beyond North America for the last 3 years, since I started to live from the road, and was getting the itch for it.

In June of this year, I found myself on a Croatian island, first with 320 humans from across the globe whom I'm connected to through a community called Sandbox, then a week of sailing the Adriatic Sea with 40 others, some Sandbox, some not.  

The sailing trip was put on by a group called Unsettled, founded by 2 Sandboxers, and they host excursions and co-work/live retreats from places such as Morrocco, Portugal, Columbia, Peru, Nicaragua, Bali, Argentina, South Africa, and Spain.

It was a bit shocking to find just how many people I had met who had attended these retreats and spoke of them as if they were catalyst points to incredible growth, certainly some fascinating stories from each.

During this trip abroad, I continued my (almost)daily creative practice of selecting a photo to share, staring at it as I turn inward to connect to what's stirring, then outward to the ether to connect to what's unformed and waiting to be discovered, then writing it out to post with the photo.

I started to notice a small trend in a number of my posts -- I am unsettled. 

It has appeared in a few forms, from fear and anxiety moving through like dark clouds, to the crossing of thresholds with breath and excitement, to a deep sense of soft and melodic repose. 

My nomadic lifestyle has been a daily navigation through being unsettled, and I have learned to embrace and connect to it as something I seek out and strive for.

Unsettled: Croatia

Unsettled: Croatia

 

Finding excitement within uncomfortable chaos. 

Some people come to an Unsettled retreat to reorient themselves and find alignment, bringing more clarity, abundance, and a sense of comfort. I found myself being called to Unsettled because the act of going and participating is what would help keep me unsettled.

As soon as I got back to the states in July, I was looking at their upcoming cohorts and saw Bali on the list with space available in November. As I sat on my friends Marc and Ashley Nager's couch in Telluride, Colorado, I swapped a couple emails with Michael Youngblood, one of the founders, then started booking tickets. 

I had no idea what life would look like then, as I often don't beyond about 7 days ahead of me, but I trusted everything would begin to shape around whatever I committed to, as it did to bring me to Croatia. 

And it did yet again.

 

 

Now I'm in Ubud, Bali for the month of November, with 24 deep and beautiful humans, that for whatever their own reasons and paths, all lead us to this place, at this time, together. We are just beginning to explore each other's stories and perspectives, while creating new stories and experiences together and already I'm incredibly inspired.

Unsettled Bali

Unsettled Bali

Throughout the month, I'll continue sharing my experiences and learnings, as well as highlighting a few feature profiles on some of the others. And of course, tons of sunrises and sunsets! ;)


Here are a few snaps from the first 2 days:

Orientation Day

Orientation Day

Bogdan filling out the Human Scavenger Hunt

Bogdan filling out the Human Scavenger Hunt

"You're weird, right?" - Valeria is (accurately) presumptuous, filling in my name on the Human Scavenger Hunt

"You're weird, right?" - Valeria is (accurately) presumptuous, filling in my name on the Human Scavenger Hunt

Paria and Hala finishing up their forms for the Human Scavenger Hunt

Paria and Hala finishing up their forms for the Human Scavenger Hunt

Nuno captures the sunset

Nuno captures the sunset

Luiza captures the sunset

Luiza captures the sunset

My first Balinese sunset from the Sayan House

My first Balinese sunset from the Sayan House

bali-16.jpg
4 Seasons hotel in Ubub, Bali

4 Seasons hotel in Ubub, Bali

bali-12.jpg
Family dinner at Sayan House

Family dinner at Sayan House

Tim snaps a selfie

Tim snaps a selfie

Kelly snaps a selfie

Kelly snaps a selfie

Bus crew coming back from dinner

Bus crew coming back from dinner

Thank you for reading. :)

Gift this entry to somebody directly and/or share this to your socials. Otherwise only you and like 4 people saw it.

During this whole trip in SE Asia, I'm sharing many of the little moments in my Instagram Stories: @KyleKesterson. Follow & interact!

Bali: Shadow Puppets in the Monkey Forest

From the moment I stepped foot in Bali, it's been a mix of traveling, unpacking, logistics, orientations, getting to know people, and a few delicious meals. While going with the flow, I was starting to get an itch to experience some Balinese culture.

Shadow Puppets in the Monkey Forest

Yep, that's the one I'm starting with.

The group is called Wayang Kulit, representing a form of shadow puppetry that is popular in Central Java and many other South-East Asia regions, going back to 930 CE.

I posted to the Slack group for other Unsettled participants inviting anyone along, and Paria said she was interested. We met at the villa, strolled through Monkey Forest at night, and while we didn't get accosted by any monkeys, to my dismay and Paria's relief, getting to avoid the scooters zipping around on the cobbled half-of-one-lane road was enough of a thrill. For now.

We walked up to the shop where the performance was about to take place and were briefly greeted with a warm family hanging out front. 75,000 rupia for each ticket. Roughly $5.60.

Just 4 minutes until show time, we walked up the stairs, to be greeted with every single seat empty. Had we not shown up, I don't believe the performance would have happened. We sit in the 2 middle chairs in the front row and wait. 

bali_shadowpuppet-1.jpg
Photo credit: Fabulous Ubud

Photo credit: Fabulous Ubud

 

The main lights go out, and everything is lit from a single, bright lightbulb and small flame behind the white screen.

After about 5 minutes of hearing a song from a metallic xylophone type of instrument that we couldn't see, puppets start to emerge.

Each intricately crafted from water buffalo hide, mounted on sticks made of water buffalo horn, wood, or bamboo, but all with interesting silhouettes and very fine details of light poking through. Some have arms, legs, or mouths that are able to be animated with the sticks and wire.

The Dalang, a man who puppets and narrates the entire story, fluctuates his voice to try to add drama, suspense, or comedy. Mostly speaking in Bahasa, sometimes in broken English.

 

 

Frankly, even with reading this story of Kumbakarna Lina ahead of time, which is written out in full at the bottom of this post, I wasn't really able to follow with it being applied on stage. To be honest, I struggled a bit to stay engaged, and catching myself just analyzing the art and craft of the performance, reminded myself to let all my notions of storytelling and demands for performance quality drift away and be here now with this. 

"How does Indonesia has a zero-tolerance drug policy?" I thought to myself, as I watched what looked like a living mushroom trip. 

Coming back to the moment again and again got me through another 10-15 mins or so, but given it just felt like a man sitting behind a screen playing with puppets to himself, and unable to grasp the story, I was getting both antsy but also fatigue leftover from the 28hr travel journey started to set in. I glanced over at Paria, unable to tell if this was blowing her mind or boring her. I assumed the latter. 

"Do you think they'd notice if we left?" I wrote out on my phone and flashed at her. Given we were still the only two there, it was enough to draw a laugh... I think we were at the same point.

bali_shadowpuppet-2.jpg

I really wanted to capture just how silly, and frankly a bit sad, this whole scene looked, so I got up from my seat and went to the back and saw a shadowy figure sitting in the corner watching me. Breathing through the discomfort of feeling like I'm doing something rude, despite having asked permission to take photos beforehand, I quietly snapped a couple and went back to my seat. Only 30 minutes left to endure...

It was as if they could read our minds, or maybe just a pure coincidence in timing, but a woman emerged from behind the screen and asked if we would like to come around the side and see what it looks like actually being made. We both jump up and go to the side.

Whoa.

bali_shadowpuppet-3.jpg

Turns out it was a full family affair. A young woman and two elderly gentlemen were responsible for creating the soundtrack on the xylophone. Another elderly gentleman and the woman who invited us back, sit to the sides to sort and provide all of the characters and props.

There were stacks and stacks of cutouts, all exquisitely painted, which seemed silly given they were silhouette.

But I suppose it made it more realistic to the Dalang.

bali_shadowpuppet-6.jpg
bali_shadowpuppet-4.jpg
bali_shadowpuppet-9.jpg
bali_shadowpuppet-7.jpg

Then there was the man, front and center, to which he held his own show. And while there was no nobody sitting in front of the screen to view the performance, the man didn't show a care in the world. In fact, he wasn't in our world. He was living and breathing the world that he was creating and the story he was telling. This whole show seemed to be for him, and his family there to help make sure it come to life.

bali_shadowpuppet-5.jpg

We sat almost the entire remainder of the show just watching this family work together with so much passion and focus.

It was beautiful and intense.

Walking back to the villa, all we could muster for the first couple minutes was, "uh, wow" and quite a bit of laughing. Turns out we had the same thoughts the whole way through, and both ended up agreeing, that was special, and worth every rupia.


Kumbakarna Lina - A story from Epic Ramayana

Kumbakarna Lina is a part of the epic Ramayana. Rama (an avatar - incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu), is the exiled Prince of Ayodya whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon King Rahwana of Alengka. This story talks about the war between Rama, the personification of good and Rahwana, who is evil. Kumbakarna is Rahwana's brother, a powerful demon, yet a noble warrior who obeys his King unquestioningly and dies waging war against Rama, even though he knows his King is in the wrong to have abducted another man's wife.

The act opens with Rahwana getting more and more desperate to marry Queen Sita, who he has kidnapped and imprisoned in Taman Asoka, Alengka, as Sita continues to rebuff him and evade his advances. Hanoman, the monkey messenger of Rama has created havoc and set Alengka ablaze. Rama in the meantime, helped by his army of monkeys successfully built a bridge to Alengka, crossed over and declared war. Prahasta, Rahwana’s war minister has been killed and his armies have fearfully withdrawn from battle. There is a lull in the battle while Rama and the monkey army are now unopposed. Now a paranoid Rahwana has his brother, Kumbhakarna, awakened from deep slumber and demands that he assume leadership of the Alengka forces.

Kumbakarna initially disagrees with Rahwana who wants to get Queen Sita to be wife forcibly, but finally has no choice but to obey his King. Thus upholding the pride of his country and his King and safeguarding his people, a reluctant Kumbakarna goes to war.

The battle with King Rama is resumed with Kumbhakarna leading the Alengka forces. The swarming monkeys cannot contain the powerful Kumbhakarna and what ensues is a long battle where Rama and Laksmana are compelled to make use of their fearsome weapons in the face of Kumbhakarna's formidable strength. Kumbhakarna receives many mortal wounds, but continues to wage war, and ultimately falls to the ground, severely injured yet alive.

Kumbhakarna’s, brother Wibisana who had chosen to forsake his evil brother Rahwana, is an ally of Rama, discovers him in this helpless state and is filled with compassion and sadness, Wibisana then begs Rama for forgiveness on behalf of Kumbhakarna and appeals that Kumbhakarna be allowed to die the death of a true warrior and be saved from a slow, painful death and send his soul to heaven.

bali_shadowpuppet-8.jpg

Thank you for reading. :)

Gift this entry to somebody directly and/or share this to your socials. Otherwise only you and like 4 people saw it.

During this whole trip in SE Asia, I'm sharing many of the little moments in my Instagram Stories: @KyleKesterson. Follow & interact!

30 Day Challenge: Wim Hof

Disclaimer: You're about to see one of the worst things I have experienced. It's uncomfortable to share, as it's very personal, and slightly graphic.

But I'm going to share with you anyways because what I discovered may change your life.

Some 30 day challenges are my excuses to try something new. Some are to potentially create a new habit, or face a fear, or get creatively inspired and so forth. But some, such as this one, kind of happen from a stroke of perfect coincidence in timing. 

Screenshot-2017-10-17-12.38.18.jpg

Two years ago, I developed a horrible skin condition from head to toe, seemingly out of nowhere, and after many tests, doctors were left baffled. It showed similarities to a number of things, but as each was specifically tested, left us scratching our heads, and me scratching my entire body.

It. Was. Miserable. Every 20 minutes, to maybe 3 hours, if I was lucky to make it that long, thousands of these hives would erupt in an uncontrollable itch, and I'd tear my flesh apart the point I was bleeding. The worst was when I was in meetings, on flights, standing in front of crowds giving talks, or staying at friend's places. Each time the wave came, I had to find the nearest shower, leaving it as dialed to as cold as possible and just sit under it to reduce the inflammation. 

Screenshot-2017-10-17-12.38.31.jpg
Screenshot-2017-10-17-12.38.49.jpg

After 3 painful months, and thousands of dollars spent on doctor's visits, tests, and steroids, I came across the inspiring Vice documentary on Wim Hof aka The Iceman. Wim is a force to be reckoned with, and the method he developed with how the body received oxygen and reduces cortisol, through breathing exercises, cold water, stretching and some focus, he was able to perform previously unheard of feats of controlling the autonomic system. His claim is that this method can quell ANY dis-ease of the body. 

Screenshot 2017-10-17 12.39.20.png

Watch the documentary, its worth your time. 

Needless to say, I was desperate and would try anything. Besides, I was already doing the cold showers, so I figured it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to go further. He has a step by step course that introduces each portion and how to dial it up, and it's very effective. In fact, in less than 2 weeks, I noticed an incredible improvement on the amount hives and the number of flare ups. At 30 days, it was maybe 1/3 of where it was. 

Here are the few pillars of the program:

Screenshot 2017-10-17 12.39.31.png

1) Breathing

A simple technique to get oxygen flowing to thehypothalamus aka Lizard Brain.

Screenshot 2017-10-17 13.27.22.png

2) Stretch + Breath

Screenshot 2017-10-17 13.01.00.png

3) Cold Therapy

Strengthen the muscles around the veins, allowing oxygen to flow easier, making the heart work less, producing less cortisol (stress hormone)


Step-by-Step Explanation of the Breathing Exercise

from WimHofMethod.com

1) Get comfortable

Sit in a meditation posture, whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction. It is recommended to do this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty or before a meal.

2) 30 Power Breaths

Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose or mouth and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times. Symptoms could be light-headedness, tingling sensations in the body.

3) The Hold, retention after exhalation

After the 30 rapid successions of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using any force. Then let the air out and hold for as long as you can without force. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex.

4) Recovery Breath

Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 10 seconds and this will be round one. The breathing exercise can be repeated 3 rounds after each other.

5) Meditation

After having completed the breathing exercise take your time to enjoy the feeling afterward. This feeling will be more and more like a meditation. 

When you start doing these exercises we recommend to take your time recovering from the breathing exercise. After doing the breathing exercise and you feel good, you can start with taking the cold shower. 


Screenshot 2017-10-17 12.40.14.png

As for the improvement of my skin condition, I was noticing great progress, but those times it happened it was still debilitating and I needed the ailment gone completely and immediately.

A friend was able to get a prescription cream from a dermatologist that acted like a nuclear bomb for fungal and parasitic infections. Even though it hadn't been identified yet, again, I was willing to try anything.

The cream scorched my entire body, but immediately began to clear up in full. Whatever it was, it hadn't returned in two years, and I am incredibly relieved! 

 

Photo: @MikeFolden

Photo: @MikeFolden

But something else happened in that month of Wim Hof's method. My energy levels went up, my enthusiasm and optimism was noticeably higher more consistently, my body temp stays warmer in cold temps, and I just can't enjoy the feeling of hot water the way I used to.

Cold water just has more feeling, even emotional, and I don't feel as good as when I leave it cold. It makes things like being able to jump into an alpine lake, a lake formed by snow melt, not just possible, but enjoyable!

It's been exactly two years, and 3/4 of all my showers are still cold, and a couple times a week I maintain the breathing exercise. It's a challenge that became a habit, and I love hearing stories of people's lives Wim changes. 

Give it a shot, and let me know your experience!


Which of my 30 Day Challenges would you like to know about next?

  1. Polyphasic Sleeping
  2. Crying
  3. Eating Color
  4. No Social Media
  5. No Liking
  6. No Plastic
  7. Get pissed off about 1 thing (and ignore all the others)

Gift this entry to somebody directly and/or share this to your socials. Otherwise only you and like 4 people saw it.