Gwyn Williams from Team Yogobe is the founder of the ZenThai Shiatsu practice and facilitator at BaliSpirit Festival since its second edition. In this interview with Elisabetta Crovara he talks about balance, letting go, and the festival.
“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”
Simple and on point. But, how many times are we told to hold on and how many to let go? Growing up and even during our adult life, holding on is associated with strength and resilience. We do rarely let go, because we feel like we are giving up. Somehow, it’s counter-intuitive.
However, these two, need balance. And balance is what BaliSpirit Festival 2019 wants to restore. This edition will be Gwyn’s 11th — and when he talks about it his voice has the same excitement as if it would be his first time attending BaliSpirit Festival.
“At BaliSpirit Festival, people get out of their suits. It’s a space where we’re not defined by the other life that we’re living.” Gwyn says: “While our ordinary identity fades, we dance and celebrate in true freedom. We’re finally present.” It’s a beautiful image, the one of the festival grounds. Some holding on to asanas, or practicing the stillness of meditation. Others singing their heart out and dancing in pure liberty. A kaleidoscope of colours, darkness and light. Sounds and silence, ecstasy and calm. An image of balance, unity and community. Like the practice of ZenThai Shiatsu, brought to the festival by Gwyn, since 2008.
“On a superficial level,” Gwyn explains, “ZenThai Shiatsu is the integration of Zen Shiatsu oriental medicine, Thai Massage and osteopathic techniques,” practices that he explored at the Queensland College of Oriental Medicine and in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here, he discovered the osteopath Arnaud Le’ Hermitte, who combines osteopathy with the art of Traditional Thai Massage.
With a strong background in martial arts, until 1997, Gwyn utilised the prana, the life force, to fight and compete. Then, he slowly realised the importance of the yin and yang, in other words: of a balanced life. If energy goes out, energy needs to come back in. And so he discovered and got into alternative therapies and yoga. Balance is at the very core of ZenThai Shiatsu: “beneath the superficial level is the practice of getting to know who we are in our true nature, in our stillness state, where we can melt away all the boundaries and just let go.” Holding on to stillness, we can then let go.
Photo: Rosa Chen
By creating balance in our bodies and minds, ZenThai also embraces a full sense of unity and acceptance, and is also a great reminder of the power of community. During Gwyn’s classes and workshops, participants work in pairs and in group as a whole. They gather together, practice, share, grow and offer their own healing, kind and loving touch to others. “The hand being an extension from the heart.”
ZenThai is like music
ZenThai creates a safe space of belonging, where people feel nourished and supported, no matter what is going on in their life. In Gwyn’s words: “ZenThai is like music. It’s an intention to move back into unity and a great modality to eliminate the conditionings. It’s a feeling of ‘we’re doing this together — and of going back to balance.” A practice that perfectly merges with BaliSpirit Festival’s vibe and energy. When we asked him a little sneak peak of his workshops he will offer this year, he replied with his main intention instead: to bring people together through movement and therapy. He won’t plan the content in advance, he will listen to the planet and to the family gathering on that day. What do they feel, wish and need. What are their intentions. And then the practice will start.
The common thread, as the festival’s theme, will be “Restore the Balance.” As Gwyn puts in, we live in a world overwhelmed by negativity, tragic dynamics perpetuated by the media and other channels we are constantly bombarded by. Well, it’s time to look at the positives and not to panic. Time to look at the flower growing on the cement. He continues: “The Earth works on a state of congruent vibration, like a pendulum. It’s a sequence and we need to embrace changes because everything is temporary. It’s a continuous swing from darkness to light.”
Movement from darkness to light is balance itself. One cannot exist without the other. So, for us, falling out of balance doesn’t matter really, because if we sharpen our senses, relax and become more aware, we can always swing back to balance. Yin and Yang. Sekala and Niskala. Dark and Light. All strong opposites that we need to accept and learn how to deal with. To meditate in stillness and in movement. To find serenity in the darkness and compassion in the light. To find silence when surrounded by hundreds of people and to speak out loud without saying a word. That’s what Gwyn’s practice is about and common thread to all BaliSpirit Festival’s workshops and events.
Gwyn gave one more blissful message, that we’d like to share in particular for any first-time attendees: “At BaliSpirit Festival, just say ‘Yes,’ and you’ll feel in the perfect place and time.” Shake your conditioning off and find your OWN way back to balance.
Photo on top: Caroline Schiff
Practice with Gwyn here on Yogobe
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