The word comes from the Balinese for ‘silence’ and, for one full day approximately every ten to twelve months the island shuts down. No planes fly in, out or over the Island. Nobody leaves their house. No one talks loudly. They don’t even cook! It is a time for meditation and the standards are strictly patrolled by the local religious police.
My family and I experienced Nyepi a year ago. It was an amazing experience. By the end, it felt like the entire community had been through a spring clean. The flavour of interactions was a bit like the smell of fresh grass after spring rain: people were present, clear, engaged and generous. It was magical.
Conversely, in the weeks before Nyepi everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. In communities where I hardly saw a voice raised for months, in the week before Nyepi I saw people having disputes in the streets. As people prepared for the lockdown six months of frustration and upset invariably came to the surface. The difference is they understand that you can't avoid what's there. or push it aside with more work or distractions, so they deliberately bring-it-up before it builds up too much
There's a lot we can learn from the Balinese about how to balance the spiritual and physical realms of life. How to rediscover what is important. How to get present to our relationships, and how to love each other. This might be one of them.
If you want to know more about how the Balinese have organised their society on the principle of Tri Hita Karana (the three-fold social organism), Deborah Neale wrote a fantastic piece click HERE.