Sense Memory: First Responses to Bali

By Elisa Novick

In a recent session with a client, I had an insight that the sensations we store with our memories are keys or handles we can use to go back inside and clear the karma attached to those memories.

Elisa in the Monkey Forest (by Karali Pitzele)
Elisa in the Monkey Forest (by Karali Pitzele)

For instance, when I was a girl, my family took a trip to Washington, D.C. It had snowed and thawed and re-frozen so the entire city appeared as a continuous landscape in gleaming white marble. While there we went to see the movie Mutiny on the Bounty, in which I saw for the first time, bare breasted native women on a tropical Pacific island. (Unfortunately, here in Bali, they do not dress that way anymore as they once did.)

A woman sitting in front of us was wearing a strong perfume with a name I no longer remember. But I was not happy. I felt a sense of isolation and alienation that was characteristic of that period of my life. For years later, every time I smelled that perfume, I was back in Washington having all of those experiences.

Now I can utilize those sense memories and even the faded photos of the White House in the snow to key into that feeling to transmute and heal the negativity of that time and bring myself back into reality and the enjoyment of life. Healing the (seeming) past brings new life to the present.

Here in Bali, the sensation-tagged memories are accumulating. The initial jet lag and culture shock — as well as delight — are being tagged with the smells of unfamiliar incense and burning garbage, the almost constant chorus of crowing roosters and never-before-heard farty-throaty sounds of lizards and other unknown creatures, the ubiquitous roar of motorbikes and the lovely strains of Balinese song.

As I live here I add the sight of family temples and offerings in every possible corner and along the streets, the loving generosity of sweet Balinese I’ve met, and the taste of crunchy snakefruit and creamy soursop-papaya pudding.

Now I have tools to help me harmonize with the new and clear the minor traumas of each day as I get accustomed to a place so fantastically outside my usual range of experience. I have gratitude for all I’ve learned and practiced as a healer to help me neutralize the stress of unaccustomed noise and wildly dangerous (to me) driving patterns, the fear of breathing dioxin-laden smoke from burning plastic, and the nervous concern for my belongings.

I am only slowly learning the name and meaning for so much of what I see and hear that initially was a crazy blur of alternating beauty and ugliness. I’ve had to utilize the inner strength and ability to come back to joy “no matter what,” that I’ve gained over the years to overcome the overwhelm than can come over me in the night when once again I feel the impact of the enormity of what I’ve done. When I went to Europe I just left home for a few weeks, but now I’ve packed my home into storage, and left behind beloved partner, house, friends, and my affectionate little cockatiel.

After working with so many people on emigration trauma in the family history, I am grateful that now we have e-mail and Skype and Facebook, while at the same time, I am wanting to use this time to shed and release and come into myself anew for the next steps of my journey and the sharing of my life’s work with more people in more places.

I’m moving into a future that is just barely forming ahead of me. I have taken the Thriving Planet World Tour to Asia and Australia, on the other side of the world, and my life is irrevocably changing. My own healing and transformation process is intrinsically linked to my mission in the world and my spiritual intention. My sessions with my clients are deepened and inspired by the radical steps I’ve taken and the ways in which I’m using the tools I teach to navigate new waters. And as I begin to give workshops in new countries, new cultures, my intention is that in honoring the commonalities and the differences, we can together manifest and nurture the new dispensation of Light uplifting this planet.

To listen to and read past conversations with Elisa Novick on Planet Waves, plus her articles, please use this link. You’re invited to visit her website and Facebook page to view more photos of Bali and leave comments.

Elisa Novick, MSS does profound work as a healer, teacher, counselor, coach, minister, and facilitator of workshops and trainings in personal, professional, and spiritual development. She can assist you to clear personal, karmic and genetic patterns that have limited you and teach you exquisite attunement skills so you can become the magnificent master of life and Light that all of us are destined to be. Elisa has been assisting people in their growth since 1982 through her counseling practice and in facilitating over 1,000 workshops in holistic health, human development, family constellation, systemic constellation, organizational dynamics, planetary healing and spiritual awareness. You may email her directly at elisanovick [at] thrivingplanet [dot] org.

8 thoughts on “Sense Memory: First Responses to Bali”

  1. Yes, that’s so beautiful, Johannah! Thank you so much for sharing it here.
    Elisa, I’m delighted you are finally able to rest and enjoy a slower pace of life, and where better than in Bali? As always, a joy to read the details of your life there, through the senses…

  2. Beloved Johannah, what a perfect example! Thank you for being willing to post it here. Now I’ve got the Rachmaninoff going through my head, too, also with memories attached to it. How many of a musician’s memories are tagged by what music they played/sang and where!

    And Lizzy, yes, the overwhelm has passed. Thank you for asking. Now the challenge is allowing a slower, more spacious rhythm to come in after a year (or many years) of non-stop — a nice challenge to have. I am sitting here, replacing the aforementioned concerto in my mind by listening to the Bach Goldberg Variations to the background of frog, lizard, cricket sounds, while sipping a cocktail of fresh vegetable and fruit smoothie and jamu jamu (strong freshly juiced ginger, turmeric root, limes and coconut water). Putra and Koko, who’ve been wonderful friends to me here in Bali came by for a visit and we munched on jackfruit, papaya, mango, mangosteen and snake fruit. To just have time to hang out is wonderful; a respite and strengthening time. Lovelisa

  3. dear elisa, thank you for your wonderful articles. i second and third lizzy and strawberrylaughter’s comments about you.(-: i had a doozy of a sense memory and healing the other day. i was stuck in traffic, turned on the radio, and heard that famous rachmaninoff piano concerto. hearing it took me right to my childhood self who loved that piece. as the light turned green i started weeping with compassion for the lonely, clueless, shame-filled child i was. suddenly there was no blame and no shame – how could i have been other than i was? how can i be other than i am? then it was only a hop, skip, and a jump (and another few blocks in bumper to bumper traffic) to compassion for all – how can anyone be other than they are? amazing grace!(-: lovexo, j

  4. Yes, what a brave woman! Thank you for the gift of the beautiful prayer, dear Elisa, and your inspiring comment. I love your theory about this issue, “That is one reason (usually unconscious) that we have movies, music, art, poetry, etc., and a reminder of how we can use these to release karma as well.”
    I hope you are well and that you’re less overwhelmed. On my part, the original overwhelm is transforming into a kind of joie de vivre, never experienced before now, a kind of freedom of spirit . having gone through the hedge backwards and out the other side! Much love xx

  5. Thanks Lizzy for your sweet words. I am now also struck by how we can share experiences with another through even our description of our sense memories, and thereby the potential for enjoying and/or healing them. I can relate to jumping out of the way on the streets here and it takes me into a momentary adrenal reaction, that I can then transmute, that I might not have remembered otherwise.

    That is one reason (usually unconscious) that we have movies, music, art, poetry, etc., and a reminder of how we can use these to release karma as well. It is a choice of course. We can become disturbed and judge or we can enter into a healing or transmutative process. I am remembering a woman who told me that she was watching horrific movies of the Holocaust (something she ordinarily avoids) in order to flush to the surface her own history (this and previous lifetimes) in order to release those sense memories. I think this is an opportunity that life provides whether we seek it out or not, but I was in appreciation of her courage in taking that on so consciously. One simple prayer than can be helpful when disturbed is to “place it in the Light” and let it release into the love and Light of God. (Translate if you need to.) Lovelisa

  6. Dear Elisa, I second Strawberrylaughter’s comment word for word. I meant to write a comment earlier but am getting over a nasty bout of flu, so didn’t get round to it. Your courage, love and honesty, and also courage to open up to and share your vulnerabilty, never cease to inspire me. It’s such a gift you give to us. Like Strawberry, this is a time when I really needed to read your words, as I’m going through a change in my life situation, which is nothing like yours, but I’m pretty overwhelmed by it, and these words have special resonance for me too, ” I’ve had to utilize the inner strength and ability to come back to joy “no matter what,” that I’ve gained over the years to overcome the overwhelm than can come over me in the night”.
    As always, you write so exquisitely about your travel experiences, for a moment I was there in Bali with you, tastinng the same food, smelling the same smells, jumping out of the way of crazy drivers! I wish you much love and light as you continue on your amazing and exciting adventure!

  7. Thank you Strawberrylaughter. Your witnessing of me and my writings is deeply gratifying. May you use my offerings well. (How about sending me an e-mail note?)

  8. Elisa, you are so courageous! I’m inspired by your pursuit of your mission, & comforted by your ability to own your vulnerabilities. The idea of cultivating an “inner strength and ability to come back to joy “no matter what”” is something that looks like it may come in handy in my own life over the next several months. Best wishes & heartfelt love in your adventure!

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