A Visit to the Balian

Olivia Crosby shares her experience visiting a traditional healer called a Balian while studying abroad in Bali, Indonesia.

Healing in Bali involves the traditional healer which is called Balian. A Balian is able to understand and treat problems arising from both supernatural and natural causes according to Suryani and Jemsen (1992). The Balinese generally go to the Balian first if there is any mental disorder that they feel come from behavior or emotional symptoms. In my Culture, Psychopathology and Healing class we discussed how Balinese believe the mind and the body are connected. They feel that what they think is how they feel. This is the reason why many people give in when they are denied from a job or being able to get the spouse they want. This is a very different aspect of culture since I’m so used to seeing people Olivia Crosley international student voice magazinehaving the mentality to strive for what you want or even fighting for things that will benefit you.

I was very impressed at the healer while he was treating a family of four. As I observed the healer examining the family he automatically knew what the family needed. He told the husband and wife they needed more love within their family and to have patience with their daughter. The healer then focused his eyes to the daughter and I’m guessing his instinct told him what was wrong. Without even touching the young girl, he asked the parents if she had a problem with her side and the mother shook her head yes. At this point I was amused at how he can know her problem without examining her. The next thing he mentioned was that she would start to become aroused which I feel this was very universal. At her age, puberty is very common and having arousal is normal. The last thing I witnessed which I felt was impressive was when he examined her head and mentioned her having problems and a big imagination. The expression across the mother face simply told the audience the healer knew what he was talking about. The father responded by saying they went to many doctors that were not able to help. The healer then indicated that he was unaware if her imagination is good or bad because she is so young. I wish I could’ve stayed to hear more of what the Balian was going to say, however we left for lunch.

My intentions were to come to the healer before I got my menstrual cycle. I knew if I came while I was on it I would be tense and very anxious. I wasn’t uncomfortable during the healer visit however I was surprised when he didn’t mention anything about my sinus or my ears. I was expecting these comments because lately my allergies have been flaring up. Another shocking point occurred when I felt more pain with his fingers then with his needle. I believed I heard him mention that it was the power that made me feel the pain. Along with this I was astonished at how he relieved the pain so fast. Dr. Raghavan informed me that he said I’m unfocused and anxious. After pondering on the unfocused part, I’m unsure if he was referring to my next step in life such as what will I major in for graduate school or unfocused with my career goal. Overall, the visit to the Balian was useful and a great experience because it allowed me to take part in something a part of Balinese culture.

Olivia Crosby was one of the winners of our summer 2014 photo contest. She received an iPad mini and a chance to blog for the ISV Magazine website. Read more here.

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