Erykah Badu Merasa Festival In Bali

Erykah Badu is helping Black women return to themselves by guiding them through the power of feeling in a practice called Merasa on the Indonesian island of Bali. 

The Grammy-award-winning singer and songwriter recently partnered with Desa Potato Head, a beachfront resort in Bali, to take a group of individuals on a journey back to themselves through mind and body elevation and regeneration. Using the gifts of music and creativity, the Merasa Festival is designed to “bond, connect kindred spirits, and share knowledge.”

For Badu, a retreat like this is essential because it allows women who look like her to not only exist freely but shine in a way they’re not often permitted to do so. The “Bag Lady” crooner says one does not need permission to “be beautiful, to have strong willpower, to keep your balance, to be kind to yourself.”

“This retreat is not the wellness; this is just the evidence,” she told ESSENCE. “You start your wellness journey when you decide to be well – and you start it one little thing at a time. It could be the words you decide to allow into your mind or making sure that you keep your boundaries. You can start that journey at any moment or at any time, and you can start over at any moment.”

In recent years, Bali has become a hotspot for Black women looking to tap into self-care practices that leave them centered and returning home to the States ready to conquer the world by living the softest life imaginable. However, the island, located in Indonesia, has always been rooted in a more straightforward way of living, one that inspires its residents and visitors alike to pause and remember the importance of breathing.

“People pay more attention to ceremony, community, and rituals here in Bali, which is a huge difference from The West – because you have to slow down here, in the now,” said Merasa Festival attendee  Robyn Hillman-Harrigan. “Breathwork teaches you a lot about your unhealthy habits and the healing that is needed to center, prioritize, and optimize your wellness.”

When the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, its impact on tourism was felt significantly, especially in hubs like Bali, where, thanks to the epidemic, the island saw a decline in tourist arrivals by 99.9%

The effects of COVID-19 are still very evident in today’s society. One particular standout is people’s desire to remain committed to wellness practices, hence causing an uptick in people embarking on holistic journeys with hopes of “improving their health, maintaining personal well-being, and increasing the quality of life, including physical, psychological, and spiritual health, through various activities such as the attending of spas, Pilates & yoga classes, mineral springs baths, and others.”

For actress and mental health advocate Taraji P. Henson, a solo April 2023 voyage to Bali was necessary for her well-being.

“I wasn’t happy anymore. I lost a sense of joy,” said the “Empire” actress during an appearance on the “Sherri” show. “I’ve been doing this for 20-some-odd years. Working, grinding, whatever you want to call it. And I come up for air, and I hit a brick wall.

She added, “If you let fear take over, it will make you believe in it. So I got past my fear, I went, [and] I did the whole trip dry: eat, pray, love because going by myself made me stay present. I had to have conversations with these beautiful people I met, and we still stay in touch.”

It looks like we might have to pack our bags for a trip to Bali ASAP!





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