Becoming SuperToxic ~ has Bali’s ‘Spirituality Bubble’ gone bad?

Head injuries, psychotic breaks, burns, sex abuse, eating disorders, suicide, molestation, pyramid schemes, fake shaman, predation, ostracism, bullying, porn and drugs… could Bali’s spirituality business be in crisis?

Last week in Bali, Canadian spirituality entrepreneur Nik Wood sustained massive brain and head injuries in an ‘accident’ at a healing retreat.

nik1.jpeg
Nik Wood sustained life threatening brain injuries in a breathwork retreat in Bali in September, 2019. Those responsible are covering up the details of how this happened, and whether their healing practices are safe.

The longterm Ubud expat and member of the influential inner circle of Ubud’s  spirituality industry was among a hand-picked elite, including a large number of American influencers who had been flown in to Bali to participate in a breathwork retreat to heal trauma and activate their dream lives.

The event was facilitated by a menagerie of Ubud’s up and coming own influencers, including those at Karma House and Yogi Lab, seeking dollar and power on the massive anxiety and motivation market, and by Marcel Hof , who is leveraging off the success and fame of the Wim Hof breathing method.

hof1.jpg
Wim Hof, who advertises that he can make you Superhuman through extreme yoga practices.

Trauma release and empowerment techniques were packaged as ‘healing’ technologies designed to make participants ‘limitless’ and  involved, as far as I can discover, over 30 days, extensive hours of hyperventilation, special modern ‘pranayama’ breath pumping and retention activities, which even others who work with breath control regimes describe as extreme.  Anthony Robbins-inspired extraversion crowd mechanics were interspersed with regular plunges into ice cold and hot water.

Organisers were cashing in on the current trend in trauma and limiting belief therapies. They were doubling that up with the promise to assist their attendants to become limitless – in pursuit of personal power, and to tempt the influencers into spreading the word, far and wide about this business, springboarding the careers of the hosts into a fertile global market.

But there was criticism and concern even before Nik, tragically, sustained his head injuries.

And there is criticism bubbling away everywhere about Bali’s ‘spirituality ‘ industry, and the ethics and qualifications of those who dominate it.

Visitors at Limitless who witnessed the retreat said it was unsafe. They said there was not enough support or assistance given to the 30 or so people who were there, in case of physical or psychological breaks. They said it was high risk. They mentioned it and were not invited back.

Later, as far as can be gleaned on the rumour mill, because the events organisers refused to comment when I asked them (which is standard in Ubud), Nik got up after days of hyperventilation, ice cold plunges, shouting, releasing his limiting thoughts, and releasing trauma, feeling dizzy, he collapsed, fell onto concrete, shattered his skull, sustained unknown brain damage, and the blood began to flow.

But was this really an accident?

~ * ~

In my own view, this event was not only predictable, but practically inevitable.

It could be seen to have been a foreseeable risk. The potential for faints, blackouts and falls in an environment based on meddling with respiration, circulation and psychological states are OBVIOUS.

Soon, it is going to have to be asked – either at law – or within this community, if the culprits causing trauma through unsafe yoga methods, use of psychedelics, extreme diets, fasts and experimental healings are actually dangerous.

Where do ‘accidents’ end, and reckless endangerment begin?

karma1.png
Karma House and Yogilab in Ubud ~ profiting from pushing the edge in yoga, tantra, sex and pornography.

For how long will Ubud cover up its trail of wounded, celebrate its own fallen heroes and dodge accountability, ethics, boundaries and even punishment? How long until we all, together, agree that perhaps Limitless is not such a great idea, afterall?

But this has not so far been easy. Because there is a cover up.

~ * ~

This week in Ubud, home base of those who organised and facilitated this retreat among many others, there are parties being advertised. A fund raising campaign is underway to Make Nik a Superhero. Yoga venues are hosting celebratory events to double up on promoting their services, and look benevolent on Nik’s behalf.

Specialists are being called for on social media, seeking more ‘healers’, and actual medically trained experts, and money… to patch up what the do-it-yourself expat entrepreneurs trading in healing and psychotherapy have caused.

nik2.jpg
Are fundraising parties the solution to malpractice in Bali’s expat yoga scene?

 

And while most people are buying in on it, either unaware of the path that has lead us here, or drunk on the sociopathic madness of all of this, or just actually hell-gone cynical about turning every possible thing into a marketing opportunity that feeds the spiritual machine… others are aching over it.

Conversations are quietly bubbling….  is this all right? and what is going on here? and what about my own part in this? or my own wounds, sustained by alternative healers, tantric predators, Lotus scheme vampires luring tourists into their rampant pyramid racquets, or in workshops here ever more treading into dangerous territory.

This wave of more careful thinkers, of whispering critics and casualties is building, because this is not the first time that serious catastrophe has been caused by healers in Ubud.

At the same time as all this is going on another member of the Ubud ‘tribe’ is also languishing. But his bed is in a Bali psychiatric hospital. This Briton, who brought his issues to Bali for healing, experienced a psychotic break, was arrested by Bali’s local police and instead of being handled in law, was mercifully assisted by the Balinese into a mental hospital where he is receiving professional care. And daily deliveries of organic food from Sayuri’s restaurant, the famous hub of Ubud’s elite yoga gang, and visits by those ‘healers’.

One of them told me this weekend that what he has learned through this experience is that there are things which are beyond what the entrepreneurs here know about medical and mental health. “It’s true,” he said. “We need to admit that there are limits. We need to pull back and reconsider how far we have gone with our assumptions about what we’re actually capable of.”

In this case, the yogis handed this man to psychiatric professionals, and to his parents, who are going to have to deal with the fallout that they have caused.

This man, also, has no insurance. There are costs involved. Who will wear them?

~ * ~

Last year, high profile yoga teacher and women’s empowerment leader at the increasingly notorious Yoga Barn, Bex Tyrer, sadly sustained life-threatening burns in a massage ‘accident’. Yes. You read that right.

Despite a secure job at a wildly lucrative yoga business, Bex Tyrer also did not have insurance. Neither did her employer. And neither did the practitioner involved. They said it was because ‘Bex is so low tech, so pure, so not aware of all that first world stuff’. They made it sound sort of cute.

bex.jpg
Bex Tyrer of Ubud’s Yoga Barn enjoys a high paid job, security and privilege as a yoga teacher and women’s empowerment figure… but mostly draws on secrecy, ostracism, donations and the bully factor of her industry to cover her tracks. https://freedomthroughmovement.org

Instead, Bex Tyrer and her employer’s networks made her story the focal point of a massive local appeal for money. Parties were held on her behalf. A huge international outreach for expert medical assistance, evacuation and emergency resources was organised. And more than US$100,000 was raised (now removed online) to offset the consequences of injuries that the spiritual industry here had actually caused.

And which ‘first world stuff’ was going to have to fix. And which Bex, being an expat, and being tapped into ‘first world stuff’ was able to convert into enough money and enough goodwill to make a recovery – unlike millions of Indonesians who will never see that sort of help, and who presumably will now not benefit from the generosity that this case absorbed. You can see her wrestling with the ethics of her situation here. I this clip, Bex Tyrer, like her other ‘spiritual guru’ peers here, demonstrates how far over their heads they are, teaching yoga philosophy, and passing themselves off as wisdom keepers and healers.

But this moral tension has not stopped them raking in the yoga dollars, or hushing up the secrets as the Bali Yoga juggernaut rolls on.

After lying to doctors and the public about how this accident happened, and absorbing a massive amount of public generosity, Tyrer set about making more profit from her experience, by selling herself as a guru and spiritual teacher. 

In this interview, she admits herself, that she has, for years, at Yoga Barn in Bali, been abusing yoga, and had not understood the practice, or used it safely, despite teaching thousands of people and heading up teacher trainings and leadership courses.

Yes, in Ubud, the streets are finally beginning to talk.

Everywhere this week there are quiet conversations going on among those who are observing, those who were involved in these cases and others, that perhaps…  perhaps things have gone too far?

Perhaps we have over-stepped the boundaries. Perhaps it’s time to speak up. Perhaps it’s time to stop.

~ * ~

Those who are not part of the dangerously inflated Ubud elite are encouraged to bear injuries in silence. They will not receive the benefits of charity, parties and public support or protection as they lurk in the shadows feeling hurt, or abused or ashamed.

Mostly, they will be told they are ‘negative’ or receiving their ‘karma’, or risk being ostracised by the cool who’s who that rule this town, and face the primal fear of exile if they speak up or complain.

They might become prey to the sirens here who lure outsiders and vulnerable into their Lotus pyramid schemes.

Or, they might be passed into the busy hands of the quiet and marginalised crew of people here; nurses, mentors, doctors, or more safe workers in the subtler arts, who mop up the mess caused by the spiritual entrepreneurs on these fields of war, and do not trade in ‘cool’.

They might read this, about the subtle ways we can be used by predators... and understand.

Sometimes, they actually do report. The Yoga Barn, for example, has received numerous complaints about sexual misconduct by its teachers, about the gross unchecked behaviour of ‘the tribe’ who have turned their dance events into virtual orgies, about trauma allegedly incurred at its breathwork and other classes. These, they have all ignored.

When I asked, last year, about the appropriateness, and the consequences of Yoga Barn teachers openly sexualising their classes, workshops and bodies, I was publicly chastised by the juggernaut’s owner, Meghan Pappenheim.

pap.jpg
Meghan Pappenheim, who makes a fortune selling healing and spirituality in Ubud, has responded to criticism of injuries and lack of accountability by personally launching a public attack on the author. Is this her way of warning others that it is dangerous to criticize or complain about what goes on at Yoga Barn?

Instead of actually discussing the merits or possible over-stepping of this sort of role modelling and enabling at Yoga Barn, Pappenheim wrote on facebook that my concerns were those of “a pre-menopausal bitch.”

Which sounds a lot more like Trump than Yogananda. As we can all agree.

She said it was not her job to regulate abuses, or to intervene on the marketing of pyramid schemes, ayahuasca retreats, claims of shamanic capabilities and other misconducts that might be going on at Yoga Barn.

“We’re all grown ups,” she retaliated.

But that is not good enough. As events are proving.

And as questionable offerings like Shamanic Yoga, from white entrepreneurial juveniles like this are pitifully enabling.

levi.jpg
Levi Banner claims to be a shaman. But is he really?

That little spat didn’t stop her from using my help to mobilise medical networks to the aid of Bex Tyrer though, a few months later.

When her prize yoga teacher sustained third degree burns to a third of her body, I was woken up at 4am for days to pass the pathology, the prognosis and images to my own network of elite surgeons for appraisal and intervention in Australia where I work as a medical columnist for several journals.

Help, the Sydney surgeons willingly gave. For free. As well as offers to initiate mercy evacuation protocols.

This was all taken as a given.

But once this story was over. Once Bex had made a large sum in charity, and was sent to the UK to put her hand out for free National Health care, and the life-and-death panic settled, I received messages from these surgeons saying they were disappointed about how things had gone.

They said that the Bali medical teams had given burns care that looked to have been of world class skill, but that the Ubud yogis had been wilfully difficult to handle, and disrespectful of doctors on the island, and to them as well.

They sent me a note saying, kindly, that would I please be aware that they would no longer participate in offering benevolent assistance to my acquaintances from the yoga world because they felt there that the conduct of entitlement, recklessness, rudeness made them both unsafe and unhelpable.

They asked; “Who are these people? Why are calling themselves healers? And why, in God’s name, don’t they have insurance?!

~ * ~

Today, while Nik Wood languishes in a critical condition in a Bali hospital, (where one can only hope that his friends might finally be coming to some sort of sensible respect of actual nurses, doctors, and the expertise of classic medicine, which they claim to loathe and distrust) and Bex makes her phoenix-like return to Ubud after her extremely lucky escape – there are hundreds of others here who have sustained injuries of body, sexuality, pocket, trust and soul whose whispers grow ever louder.

Some of them are part of the Ubud central crew. Where it is exquisitely dangerous to criticise, or break ranks in any way with the growing ‘tribe’ of yoga entrepreneurs who rule the inner circle, and thereby control access to the lion’s share of networks, influence, money and the rest.

Punishment for challenging Ubud’s dominant healers, shaman, yoga teachers, foodies, kirtan singers, mystics and breathworkers is immediate banishment to the nervous flock of oblivious tourists or Ubud’s Unwanted. Or, punishment is more violent than that.

In my own case, as a writer and critic of the scene, I have been hauled through the mud by some of the ‘sweetest’ of Ubud’s healer goddessses: Tina Nance, womens’ empowerment leader, yoga therapist and influencer, set her dogs on me when I commented on the wisdom of sexualisation of women’s yoga.

tina.jpg
This is Tina Nance’s interpretation of female health and leadership through yoga.

and Lindsey Wise, her lullaby singing sister, and member of Ubud’s ‘tribe’, muck-raked me all over social media.

wise2.jpg
Lindsey Wise. Bully.

These are people who claim to be ‘spiritual’. They also set themselves up as teachers, leaders and wise light showers who are healing humanity and improving on the culture of bullying, sickness and lifestyle that we are all growing more and more concerned about.

… and I received street justice and rape threats.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 3.46.01 pm.png

No mud no lotus … as the yogis like to say.

But perhaps it’s not only the lotus that thrives in the mud?

~ * ~

Professionally, I have worked 30 years in crime and investigation, so all this is more like high school bullying by nasty spoilt brats, than the things that I have seen in reporting. But it’s not far off from criminal…. and that we need to admit.

Nobody in Ubud stepped in to draw a public boundary or a limit on this situation, or in others. That is a shameless FAIL in both ethics and leadership from a ‘community’ that claims to be dishing out wisdom, guidance, spiritual health. As some of us on the fringes say, in a sort of amused and horrified way, as we observe the Ubud scene; That’s not yoga! 

And though people may not like what I say, the truth is that I am a professional at what I do, and I take the time to make enquiries, I ask for the facts, I check them best I can though they are scrupulously hidden, I make myself accountable, I encourage discussion, I offer those under scrutiny a chance to comment before I publish – in this case, and all the others, they have refused.

To be clear here, those involved with Nik Wood have declined the invitation to contribute to this story, or to tell their side of it. Marcel received my request, and after saying he wanted to speak, and would ask his team, he simply disappeared.

72088367-A018-4AF2-815E-0DD0BB4DB9F1
Marcel Hoff…. unavailable for comment after facilitating events leading to catastrophic head injuries, with the team from Karma House yoga in Bali.

I don’t mind wearing SOME of the mud that will be stirred in forcing a dialogue this way. because I will cut this step for those who also know that we need to correct our course in the yoga world, and that also, we may need to weed out the predators, psychopaths, the mentally unwell and outright toxic who have infiltrated the ranks.

We need a system of accountability. Regulation. Some sort of counsel of wise overseers and certainly safe places for counsel, repair, complaint, and we most certainly need insurance!

What Yoga Alliance, the overseeing body of so-called ‘professional’ accreditation, is doing to ensure safety and competence is heading toward criminally negligent. Let alone what business operators are enabling and promoting.

All of this, to me, is so profoundly sad that even though I will be criticised here, and marginalised, probably, as a bitch, for daring to publish, what I would like for you to understand is that it actually pains me to have to do it.

I feel weak in my bones as I type here, at 4am.

And I wake up in the night, with implications exploding in my mind, and the stories I have been told as I have investigated this story on the streets of Ubud all week, and deep moral questions about what’s going on in Ubud.

And fears.

Fears for the safety of those of you who don’t really get it – what is happening here. And how it works. And those who are already injured, in more subtle ways, by this culture of free range yoga, and sociopathic yoga, and fake shamanism, and plant ceremony, and abuse – but do not have the protection of what they call ‘the tribe’.

And sorrow too, for what Ubud could have been.

please feel free to comment here, contact me privately if you have another story to share, or – if you think any of these facts are wrong, please discuss. I make a 100% promise to correct any information here which can be shown to be untrue. However, ALL the relevant parties have refused to be interviewed, responded by public bullying or simply disappeared.

great leadership! Not.

tat.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


35 thoughts on “Becoming SuperToxic ~ has Bali’s ‘Spirituality Bubble’ gone bad?

  1. Hi Jade, I really like your writing and observations. I also agree whole-heartedly. As a yoga teacher myself, I try to hold myself to high standards, even when struggling with personal and sometimes conflicting situations. I can also understand the trepidation that writing such information inevitably brings. As a leader in my own yoga community I fully support the idea of bringing together modern yoga practices, ethics and safe medical practices (from qualified professionals!) I would in fact love to meet up with you talk about such things, as I am quite vocal about such things (check my FB page if you’re interested), and discuss thoughts on regulation, governing bodies, or a “community of ethics” is possible… looking forward to your reply. ( I live in Ubud)

  2. You are, of course, spot on here Jade. As a psychologist (with actual university qualifications and years of training and professional supervision) I have been observing this with trepidation for quite some time. Part of the problem is, of course, that many, many people come to Ubud ‘for healing’ and are already damaged and suffering from mental illness. It’s all just an ‘accident’ waiting to happen! Very sad for Nik.

  3. Thank you Jade, for your courage, insight and journalism. I share your concerns and more, your sorrows, for what Ubud could have been……

  4. Thank you Jade for this piece. It is most timely and sadly, well past time. Your writing is clear and concise and well researched. Rumours have been flying for ages and you make us realise they are not idle gossip. Thank you again.

  5. Fly me to the moon , is what ubud seems like these days. Thats how shallow and how far they do to survive being part of the ‘tribe’
    Saluut to the truth that you have courageously writen. In so many ways I agree.

    Lived in Bali since ’83 and as local and cosmopitant, I witness the phenomena over the years. It is worth concerning in terms of like attracts like.
    Overnight made shamans are everywhere so where is this going.
    Degradation of the quality of visitors definutely compared to back then Wakter Spiece era.

    If you are into investigation, look into foreign organized NGO’s and some other foundations. Have fun!!
    Keep observing and share.

    Blessings.

  6. You wrote – Bex Tyrer, sadly sustained life-threatening burns in a massage ‘accident’.

    This is not true

    Bex was receiving a Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture and cupping treatment,
    to assist with respiratory Issues caused from living in a moldy environment.

    This tragedy was not a massage accident.

    Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups as suction devices that are placed on the skin to disperse and break up stagnation and congestion by drawing congested blood, energy or other humors to the surface. The suction is created by using a small flame on a wick drawing up the air trapped within the glass cup beneath it. In this case the cups had been sanitized with alcohol, and then there was a mix up w the alcohol which was mistaken for water which ignited causing severe burning on burns arms and torso.

    Bex has lived very humbly as a yoga teacher in Bali for the past 10 years.
    Many ubud ex-pats, myself included, have suffered severe breathing problems, as a result of mold infections from living in damp environments in Ubud during the rainy season.

    I would take this writing more serriously if you did not overly slant your Journalism.

    I don’t think it is fair to say that the spiritual industry here had actually caused this tragedy.

    The community came together as best as we could to support our friend

    What are your goals with writing this piece?

  7. … and this is the public response from MeghanPappenheim the owner of the biggest yoga school in Ubud. Which is also under investigation for exposing students to cult teachings in a law suit out of the USA.
    And who has recently been able to secretly smuggle two expat staff off drugs charges in Bali.
    I would say her comment here rather supports my case.
    Her claims against me are … spiteful? Personal? Acidic?
    As we say here at my place.. Hey Meghan! That’s not yoga 🧘‍♀️
    This is the true face of The Spiritual Business.
    I’m sorry to have to show it, but you should know what really lurks behind the yoga mask in Ubud.

    OPEN LETTER TO Jade Richardson.
    Dear Jade, please provide actual evidence for your claims in the future, assuming you have evidence. Making up stories is really unbecoming and unprofessional (I suppose we are in the same camp then). So IS personally messaging your victims and attacking them for your giddy benefit. Judge and Jury of UC, remember that Jade is a failed journalist (literally), an editor, a (brilliant) fiction writer and a teacher who sometimes offers workshops in her house in Ubud. Jade aspires to be a real Journalist but has not been accepted in the Elite Class apparently (cause if she was, she wouldn’t be wasting her time on UC!) That said, I can relate. Jade – I, tooo, was rejected as well for most of my life because I wasn’t tall enough, skinny enough or pretty enough. But I made it through. I’m here for you if you want to talk. I understand that self loathing and resentment is hard to process… and its easier to bash your ‘friends’. Lucky you, you seem to have so much time on your hands,…. In regards to the ‘first world’ assumptions made in your post, there is fundraising daily from many people who work hard and donate to help sick and injured Indonesians, my Balinese family and myself included.

    Jade, note sure who you have helped recently, but your self. A nice pat on your back for the ‘quarter a million followers’ on your page, love, great job.

    (hey if I sound angry, I kinda am) To clarify the facts that have been misrepresented by the said Author…. CHAPTER ONE: only refers to the incident with Bex. PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR CHAPTERS 2 & 3 & 4.

    “Last year, Bex Tyrer, sadly sustained life-threatening burns in a massage ‘accident’. Despite a secure job at a wildly lucrative yoga business, Bex also did not have insurance.

    Neither did her employer.

    And neither did the practitioner involved. They said it was because ‘Bex is so low tech, so pure, so not aware of all that first world stuff’. They made it sound sort of cute.

    Instead, Bex and her employer’s networks made her story the focal point of a massive local appeal for money. Parties were held on her behalf. A huge international outreach for expert medical assistance, evacuation and emergency resources was organised. And more than US$100,000 was raised (now removed online) to offset the consequences of injuries that the spiritual industry here had actually caused.

    And which ‘first world stuff’ was going to have to fix. And which Bex, being an expat, and being tapped into ‘first world stuff’ was able to convert into enough money and enough goodwill to make a recovery – unlike millions of Indonesians who will never see that sort of help, and who presumably will now not benefit from the generosity that this case absorbed.”

    From what I understand and recall from the bex medical emergency:

    Bex was in her home, in her room, when she was accidentally set on fire in a combination of alcohol and candle flame. She sustained life threatening burns on approx 40% of her Torso. Her employer at the time, The Yoga Barn, had insurance (although Bex let her insurance Lapse – a very stupid thing to do). Although the accident was a personal one and not company related, The Yoga Barn assisted Bex in using the company insurance until it was deemed by a team of experts and friends that paying cash for treatments was going to render better services and care for Bex than staying on the company’s insurance (especially since she was at risk to contrac a Super Bug while in Hospital). An entire community of Bex’s friends and former students, including Jade Richardson, banned together to assist with a medical air-vac and a few raised enough money through a group initiative to air vac Bex to full on care in the UK where she is from. For the record, all YB employees have hospital insurance, its required by the Indonesian Govt. In addition the YB also pays allot of money for many types of insurance to protect people within its walls.

    CHAPTER TWO:

    “The Yoga Barn, for example, has received numerous complaints about sexual misconduct by its teachers, These, they have all ignored.

    When I asked, last year, about the appropriateness, and the consequences of Yoga Barn teachers openly sexualising their classes, workshops and bodies, I was publicly chastised by the juggernaut’s owner, Meghan Pappenheim.”

    From what I understand about the above, as the co-founder of The Yoga Barn, which has been operational from a CV to a PT since 2008 (that’s 11 yrs I believe?), there have been less than 10 complaints about ‘misconduct’ at the Yoga Barn and guess what? I have dealt with every single one of the complaints. Out of 10 of those actual complaints, 6 of them were in relation to a teacher who was fired from the Yoga Barn over 4 yrs ago and the other complaints were mostly about mis-perceptions of behaviour and all resolved between the humans involved. BTW, 2 of the complaints were in between staff.

    So, once again, Jade is Full-O-…….

    CHAPTER THREE:

    “Instead of actually discussing the merits or possible over-stepping of this sort of role modelling and enabling at Yoga Barn, Pappenheim wrote on facebook that my concerns were those of “a pre-menopausal bitch.”

    So, #1 ‘discussing’ anything with Jade is usually done by PM and usually entails getting bashed on the head a few times….. and, ahem, proves to be a TIME SUCK (i’ve been sucked in yet again it seems). So”lets call the kettle black”. guess what its my turn now….. I have a funny feeling I am the new pre-menopausal b-iatch in town.

    CHAPTER 4:

    “In my own case, as a writer and critic of the scene, I have been hauled through the mud by some of the ‘sweetest’ of Ubud’s healer goddessses:”

    Well, Jade, in my 23 years of living in Bali I have NEVER seen anyone exploit her position as an entitled white goddess more than you. AKA You have used your position to BULLY scores of women in private messages. I have seen many (but not all) of the messages that have brought said women to TEARS…. You come at them like a RUSTY OLD BLADE, cutting them down… You BAIT them (like you have me) and then they are on the defense (like me) and then BOOM they hit back… and you run to your blog and tell us all how cruel they all are. SORRY, NO SYMPATHY FROM ME….. just like you have no sympathy for me.

    … i might add more chapters here if i find the time.

    thank you for reading. let it rip.

  8. Odd. If you would like to hop over to my post Vampire in the Lotus, you can see more about the sorts of people Simon hangs about with at Zest and his other little projects. Oh dear. Was this really wise?

  9. Steve, thanks for commenting.
    I understand your clarification.
    What you need to consider is that, because i was professionally privy to confidential and extremely sensitive information about those injuries, the cause, and the unfortunate choices made in first aid by those at the scene, it is not ethical for me to disclose the private details.
    Other than where it may serve the public interest.
    I shared mostly what is already published about the event and the wounds.
    The reason I wrote ‘massage ‘ was because I wanted to provide a veil for the persons involved, as i am aware that trauma was also sustained by the practitioner.
    Also, to be accurate, Bex was being treated for emotional issues as well as respiratory.
    I have not been inaccurate here, more, i have been diplomatic.
    My intention is to create a safer, more accountable, inclusive, less predatory culture in ubud’s spiritual marketplace.
    I think that is clear.

  10. Lili Somers: Well if something smells bad I believe it is cowardly to bury one’s head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. Change is only wrought through protest, and this excellent piece of writing wasn’t as hateful as some pretend it to be, in fact more supportive than any character defamer deserves.
    I for one, at 68 years of age, in my 28th year of experiencing the extraordinary dichotomy of this incredibly beautiful yet often seemingly God forsaken land, applaud her courage for exposing herself to such negativity, it seems sadly, from so many of her responders.
    As my mother often said, ‘if you’ve nothing positive to say, as Meghan did then, ‘diam lah.’ (Well she actually said, “say nothing).’
    One more thing, if you were seriously defamed, would you lie down and take it like a whipped dog, or stand up for yourself like a Warrior 💪 woman?
    There’s an abundance of the former, but as the song goes, ‘what the world needs now is love, sweet love,’ AND, may I add respectfully, as in many a book, not just my own, is an abundance of new and uprising Warrior Women! Yay. Amiin ❤️❤️ Mwaah

  11. Mia Chung: What a great read, what a great writer! I’m taking notes 🙂 thank you Jade for seeking facts to substantiate your claims, and for addressing the shadow side of the Ubud cool crowd. Regulation is helpful, but only goes so far as the infrastructure needed to sustain it must be built and is only as good as the people working it. We also need properly trained healers who have spent more time than it takes to build a website to train in their field before they go out to help others, and we need accountability measures – flying by the seat of one’s pants works only until the seat rips, and then it’s pure selfish dependence on others after that! We could start by being inclusive, meaningfully interacting with Balinese community, encouraging evidence-based dialogues, and interrogating qualifications.

  12. Danielle Knight: Thank you for calling this out and bringing it to light. I witness it day in and day out in the spiritual and ‘wellness’ industry. So much spiritual bypassing, white washing, white supremacy and narcissm wrapped up in ‘healing the world’ that I think the only action we can take is continue to look at our own accountability in how we are /aren’t contributing, calling this sh*t out and showing up. Ie – articles like this, conversations, being willing to say the tough things, not playing into the hype and rallying around the people who are being directly harmed and impacted by these things.

  13. Marion Ardarna: Very well written and a good read. Unregulated therefore no responsibility taken, however I believe the spirituality, culture, and essence of Ubud remains unaffected by the intruders and their egotistical games. Of which I might add most are unaware of and don’t seem to care much about the traditional practices on the island.

  14. Pauline Privatna: A professional in any healing modality always has a duty of care at the forefront of everything they do and the “first, do no harm principle” tattooed with invisible ink, upon their forehead..

    Unfortunately, where there is virtually zero regulation and vulnerable people, narcissists seem to easily find a podium, offering flashy, exotic, quick fix promises, instead of tools, along with their charms and haughtiness, as a carrot lo the abused, confused and less sure footed.

    How do we propose to find a solution to this unregulated and dangerous , which could be a significant haven for healing?

    For one, thing, I think the more experienced and somewhat qualified women in the Ubud Community are right to take a stand.

  15. Marieke Warmelink: I think it is a courages article.
    I am an outsider but hear a lot of sexual ‘abuse’ misunderstandings happening from people around me and so much sexual “language “ during classes which is not respectful, but becomes a norm. Maybe also good to remember ubud isn’t always paradise. Two sides of the coin always exist. Good luck to everybody.

  16. zana Freedom…. from Perth Tribe Awakening Facebook group. [EVERYONE needs to worry when people like this are controlling and censoring the news.]
    [Despite lengthy dialogue about the veracity of this article, which is undisputed.. this individual does not want to ‘upset her beloved tribe’ so is blocking the story in Australia. I consider this worse than deplorable. In a democracy where we have freedom to speak and contest ideas. But it shows how this sick tribe operates.
    Beware! I’m telling you.
    Some of these yoga influencers are unwell.]
    Identifying truth is the matter of great philosophy. Some would say there is no truth as our perceptions are so very different. We would need to consider freedom here. Freedom to question. And this is the forum for it. By shutting this post down you act like an autocratic leader, determining who can speak and who cannot. How do you know whose life this post touches just like how do you know who benefits from which life-saving breathing practice? We can only learn from experience and understanding through stories. Stories that always have some truth if not the whole truth.

  17. Hi Jade
    This mudslinging fight between you and Meghan is disturbing but interesting (I don’t know either of you, but have been to the Yoga Barn and other yoga places in Ubud, and I read your blogs).
    I arrived in Ubud several years ago as a grieving broken soul, and I was lucky to find some beautiful people there who helped me find my voice and regain my strength. People like Lindsey Wise (who you surprisingly name in this article and who was an angel to me), another yoga teacher who was incredibly supportive and nurturing (also probably one of your so-called ‘elite’), and a well known sound healer who was outstandingly caring and giving as a person and musician.
    The first friend I made in Ubud, also a newbie there, was a woman in a very vulnerable state. She consulted with a well known healer practising at The Yoga Barn. That connection turned out to be toxic, and luckily she got off lightly before he exploited her psychologically and financially. Another well known therapist (not at the yoga barn) exploited her sexually.
    Witnessing these stories at the time made me very wary of the jawdroppingly amazing compilation of “therapies” marketed in Ubud.
    There’s white, black and every shade of grey in the foreign teachers and healers working there and as an outsider (who continues to meet other women that go there) I agree with you that accountability needs to be developed to protect the many vulnerable visitors who seek help for their health and wellness there 🙏🏽

  18. From Meghan Pappenheim, owner of Ubud’s notorious Yoga Barn, on Facebook…

    Jade Richardson I’m just really really confused. jade, you are talking about Local Celebrities? Who is a local celebrity??? And to whom? You are discussing people on a small island in Indonesian who NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT. I am certainly NOT a celebrity and neither are any of the people in your article. NONE OF US ARE ANYTHING BUT HUMAN. If you need to put people on pedestals in order to re-position your self higher or lower because it helps you personally justify your personal thoughts and actions, OK. BUT I think you need to realize that most people in the world could give a shit about Bex, Nic,Tina, and most of the people you write about. The TOPICS are important but the people are nobodies. In Bali, the celebrities are the Indonesian TV drams, the Balinese pop stars and the amazing Indonesian super stars who make a difference on their island and in this world. NOT a bunch of foreigners in an expat community.

    My thoughts on this… are first; it gives a shocking insight to the mentality behind the yoga business, and second; this yoga school actually advertises its teachers as leaders, healers and shaman. Those are high status roles. These individuals teach thousands of people a month at Yoga Barn, promising them to benefits of shamanic healing, self empowerment, yogi skills, detox, wisdom etc… they have massive influence. And zero accountability. This needs to change.

  19. Ann Macintosh: Quite. And there are irrefutable facts that demonstrate the unsafe practices of the privileged who are attempting to shut you down. All you are doing is demonstrating the lack of integrity and honesty among those who profess to be holier than thou but, in fact, are preying on and exploiting the vulnerable who come to them for help. Shameful stuff that needs exposure. Of course the perpetrators and their rabble will do whatever they can to silence.

    To which Meghan Pappenheim replied: violins please.

  20. Andrew Hyde: Ubud is a special place, however, many vulnerable people come here with a poor sense of self or self-love deficit, both the prey and the preditor. suffer from it. Yes there are charlatans, yes there is brainwashing…but it is all part of the journey to find balance within. We are all on the same journey, only with different paths, it’s a maze. But with self-reflection and contemplation, everybody can find balance. Feeding the darkness only feeds the beast…Amed is beautiful today, no drama in sight lol…

  21. BG: Meghan has a large businesses involved in this genre – but most of the issues named, within the community have little to nothing to do with the yoga barn, other than perhaps dancing and attending classes there – with some teaching there while managing, separately, their own business.

    She does not have a certification, or governance; when she launches that, she’ll be responsible. Until then, this is a wider issue.

    There are so many aspects to this: about ethics, about intentions, responsibility of both teachers and clients, and the motivations that drive people into this industry – because it is an industry.

    Suspect motives aren’t just the region of the teachers; I include clients in that, because there are some terribly manipulative clients who take advantage of naive, optimistic healers in massively inappropriate ways. I have been on both sides of the equation – I’ve been sent dick pics by clients, had my breasts grabbed and held in sessions while crying in order to ‘heal me’, had a guru bilk me of far too much money as he told me he wanted me to ‘give my life to the movement’, before I decided to step back and then work in the field, optimistically and idealistically to help. I then got eaten alive by competitors, idealistically believing everyone had sound motives. So I say this from a rather weary and jaded place.

    Not everyone has positive intentions – and that’s human nature. Motives are complex, and widespread, and contain aspirations, hidden wounds, and there is indeed little to no governance around behaviours and ethics. You’re slinging around an entire industry and asking Meghan to take a handle on it -is that a role she wants? It may not be rewarding enough.

    I put standards for facilitators into place (I also asked them to chew mints, there is nothing worse than a healer with bad breathe breathing on you) – and also, created other standards and boundaries – in order to try to corral a community of cats and enthusiastic freedom-healers, each with their own standards and behaviours and ideas. Do they want that? Not all. It keeps the collective force directed, or at least honest, or and with a framework that points them in the right direction. But an entire industry? That’s what you’re suggesting Jade, and you’re leaning that on the shoulders of one business within the industry; and naming the size of that business as the reason. These are typically sole proprietors, small business, individual creators; and you’re talking about industry-wide standards.

    It’s only when tragedy strikes – or enforced change, through lawsuits or regulations – that it becomes necessary for each retreat. Leveraging shame is one method of change, but possibly an aspirational approach can also – once the fire is going out – be taken in order to ensure both freedom – expansion – and to inspire also a code of ethics that protects both healers, spiritual workers – and their clients. (I am not volunteering, I do not want to touch this – there is far too much emotional intensity and callousness floating around in this and it burns out hopefuls while fostering manipulation and competition, aka, ‘I-am elbowing’. Ick.

    I’m happy to share the standards I developed before, if anyone wants to run with this and feels it is appropriate to put something into place. They would need to be expanded on. That is also likely a conversation with the government. And who runs this? Is it volunteer, or enforced? With any form of governance, or industry-wide standards, there are concerns – who is putting the rules into place for example, what gives them that vaulted authority, and what checks and balances are in place to ensure that authority is held well and kept ethical and without personal interest? They also need to be open enough to allow for creativity and expansion.

    Meghan has a financial interest – as in the yoga barn – sp she may not be the neutral person that is required to monitor or create this. Given we’re in Bali and they have a long-standing tradition, the priests and healers guidance should be taken into account – without it hampering expansion and business development.

    The carnage here is this: that all are being lumped into one category, which is worrisome, that ‘juggernauts’ are being targeted, and that we are supporting targeted witch-burning finger-pointing – which is what your article is doing – and worst of all, that a measured, consistent and rational approach isn’t being applied.

    There is the added struggle that there are no ethical boundaries – as of yet – in the spiritual realm, and inexperienced healers are often give tools and gifts without the site – or sense of responsibility to manage them. I’ve been shocked – and experienced – at the vitriol that spew from some in order to establish their perception of themselves as more ‘enlightened’ as they dismiss the realities of others around them, or gaslight them into crazy assumptions of how wrong they are – or play with dark in order to ‘get and gain’ the authority which heals their sense of powerlessness in this world. There is too as many come into contact with those needing support, a sense of ‘I know more’ entitlement that can develop, or usury as they see how easy it is to manipulate others into following or giving over power. I’m with you in that this needs to be addressed.

    In any industry, there is widespread goodness – and greed too. Blanket statements, such as those above, discredit that reality. In addition to some terrible happenings, there are amazing, profound, like-changing healings that occur, absolutely sacred connections and souls and people released from hurts that have held them back for lifetimes and caused truncated lives.

    Nefarious narcissists (new term), 🙂 fame-seekers and I-want-to-matterers are attracted to this world but so are humanitarians, and healers and good well-intentioned, fantastic people too. The struggle is supporting the wheat from the proverbial chaff and supporting the good intentions as they grow into something extraordinary – while minimising the negative results. It needs to be looked at carefully. Without hollering at Meghan or targeting others as was done in the article. Socrates started it. But basing it on old principles cannot serve our modern-day needs. Whoever jumps into the fray to serve needs to be rather measured and thorough – and fair, without agenda. Jade, I truly I applaud the intention – to create safety and ethics and to call out inappropriate behaviour – and fire burning, flag-tearing and mud-slinging is often required initially during the height of change at work, but I know we’d all agree that for consistent, and positive change to come about, each of the issues – calmly, specifically, without blame or rage, but analytically and clearly, with an eye to cause and effects needs to be looked at and standards put into place – and red flags noted.

    There are many teachers and healers who need to feel safe in taking it on as a career – and they benefit others mightily, in deep and profound ways. As we wake up, they’ll be more instrumental than we imagine I suspect. If they are attacked too intensely, we’ll lose them. No one is obligated to help others – so we need to create a safe and captivating and encouraging place for them as well. Wholesale attacks kill the hearts of many who sincerely want to help.

  22. SImon Jongenotter – from ZEST cafe, MOTHER restaurant and other New Earth, yoga a food businesses in Ubud wrote this – which is odd, really, given how I protected him from being outed in the Post here called The Vampire in the Lotus.

    “Do yourself a favour, stop being the menopausal bitch that the owner of the yoga barn made you out to be. You’re better than that. And before you criticise the most influential yoga establishment or any other practitioner who is just like you, on their journey. Recognize the thousands of beautiful things they HAVE contributed to Bali. Maybe you’re mistaken when you start your articles by claiming that all these practitioners are just out there for dollar and fame. Maybe they too, are driven by the sadness of what not just Ubud, but what the world could have been. And they changed the words ‘could have been’, to ‘could be’. They threw in the word ‘limitless’. They took the risk to just like Nik, severely bump their heads only to get up again, and get better. Forget making this island great again Jade, it’s not for you to decide. Just make yourself greater, and breathwork is one of the many avenues that are a support tool for many. And sometimes, just like with any other tool, you hit your thumb instead of the nail. Get out the band-aids and hammer on!”

    Toxic masculinity? Delusions of grandeur? Sociopath? hmmm….

  23. In reply to Meghan Pappenheim’s claims (owner at Yoga Barn who has displayed some appalling professional and personal conduct related to this post, which is her typical public relations strategy) that this post is fatuous, and that i am a ‘bitch’..
    From a long and antagonistic thread on ubud Facebook community this week, my reply to her claims that i am a failed writer and being a bitch (which i find extraordinary public comment from a yoga professional)… not to mention inaccurate..

    Meghan Pappenheim this is how i see it.. we have a massive catastrophe unfolding all over the planet, in politics, environment, abuse, race, medicine, everything.. which boils down to 1. A willful failure of leadership 2. Greed and abuse. 3. Privilege leading to negligence and narcissism 4. Lack of accountability and even possible deliberate cruelty.. the yoga movement and its allied activities BASE ALL their marketing on the promise that the INDUSTRY is better than that, or a solution to it, or provides healing for it. If its leaders, and those who capitalize on it do not honor those promises, it amounts to deception. Keeping things ethical is the job of the gate keepers. Studio owners. They must not behave like pure capitalists. They must behave with respect to the promises they sell on their billboards. And if they don’t, they need to be made accountable in order to ensure their customers have the proper warning about what they’re buying. Spiritual businesses tread a dangerous line. In my view, at this time in history, to offer watered down spirituality, enable junk yoga etc.. when people are in crisis, and anxiety and leadership are desperately sought, amounts to a tragic failure even more despicable than abuses causes by corporations.. because most don’t directly promise to heal your soul.

  24. Gary Hind: What a pathetic piece of shit……. Deletes posts that PROVE her wrong. 🤣🤣🤣🤣

    … extracts from a thread of personal attacks and hate mail which pappenheim created on Ubud Community facebook page.

    Even if it is true that i am these things.. and if the facts in the post are wrong (which nobody has been able to argue) … is this how yogis behave? Is this what lurks behind yoga leadership? Apparently it is. Which i find deeply disturbing.

  25. Kellie Wong: I have said many times before, spirituality is not all love and light. There is a predatory dark side which is especially prevalent when ego (encompassing the desire for fame, power, status, superiority and fortune is involved) …
    Yes, these issues of ego can lead to what would be considered malpractice and there is no denying that when people seek healing, they are by the very definition, vulnerable in some way… and some more so than others. A true healer has worked through, and continues to work through those issues on their own path that need healing, in a way that allows them to show others how to heal themselves…sadly not all healers (of all modalities) have done this self healing and reflection before they decide to help others…
    A certain responsibility here needs to come from those seeking healing…trust your instincts and intuition! If it doesn’t feel right for you, then it isn’t! It may well be someone else’s path but it doesn’t mean it’s the best path for you. Yes, all is a lesson but learn from the lesson. People’s need for community, acceptance and belonging makes them vulnerable to gaslighting techniques that that can remove their logical boundaries and common sense… and at the end of the day… it’s about grounding the spiritual into the physical is it not? Not the other way around so yes, apply a healthy dose of common sense combined with how you ‘feel’ about what is going on before you choose a healer in any capacity! There is no regulation, and there are those who pray on the vulnerable. That is a sad fact. There are also those who wholeheartedly wish to serve and do so with love and integrity always…It is up to us all to decide what is best for us as individuals and what we want to experience on our own journeys.
    I commend Jade for highlighting some of the lessons others have experienced through the less than ethical practices that may be occurring in the spiritual community. There are consequences here that provoke thought for those seeking enlightenment without adequate boundaries and filters due to their vulnerability… which can ultimately result in gullibility, as a result of susceptibility to grooming and gaslighting….we are All only human, whatever else we may be, after all.

  26. Denise Payne Yoga ; What I’m witnessing while navigating the modern climate of the yoga world, and the ever increasing sensitivities of the conscious communities and the spiritual gangsters, is that the thinning of skin appears parallel to the heightened need by the seekers seeking transformation.
    In recent articles, rebuttals, and comments, the essence of the intentions of promised healing and profound life change seem to have lost the plot. Daggers are out, and even the sweetest of them seem capable of masterfully chucking ninja throwing stars, all in the name of yoga and spirituality.

    I’m not new to criticism. I’ve had my share of unfavorable judgement, some of it quite harsh delivered by umm… shall we say famous Instagram yogis, as well as the not-so-famous-hungry-for-Ubud-fame types. I see myself as a single mother first, yoga teacher second. I also know that I’m not going to resonate with everyone, and same same. Isn’t that what makes this crazy world go ‘round? What I do know is that I know my shit and I am constantly upgrading my tools needed to reel someone back in when they’re potentially going too far.

    It’s also important to say that I’ve also done my share of criticizing. Judgement on my part has come from a lack of tolerance in the new age of the yoga world, the dumbing down of the practice via creativity before mastery (oops, that feels judgemental) and from a place of fear. With a little bit of introspection, and when I come back to doing what I do best, and back to the foundations laid before me by my great teachers, I no longer feel the need to worry about what anyone else is doing.

    So whether it’s Kung fu pussies, extreme bondage in the name of sexual freedom, ultimate ice encounters, intense breathing practices, the promise of release through plant medicine, or getting finger fucked by Lord Shiva in the name of liberation; if you believe in what you’re doing, take the criticism with a grain of salt. Know your shit and know your seeker. What you’re offering might not be right for everyone..

    🙏🏻

  27. Janelle Horrigan: Incredible and so brave Jade – thank you! I was so concerned to hear – back in 2014 – of these Ayahuasca ceremonies – considering it is a class 5 drug in Australia … Wondering how they smuggle it into Indo? A good friend of my husband died back in 2013 after a ‘ceremony’ in Australia. This plant deserves the utmost respect and should only be experienced within the safety of it’s own traditional medicine people. Self-proclaimed shamans in a land they don’t belong to spruiking illegal drugs to create their own subculture. Ubud has so much art and culture – beautiful fresh food – friendly smiling locals – herbal medicines – and incredible history and ritual designed to keep everyone on the island safe and happy. This is completely disregarded and ignored by the expats in the scene I encountered there. I had expats working me to see how I could help them make a buck. A breathwork teacher trying to sell me her teacher training when I hadn’t even experienced a class. A man broken emotionally from a breathwork class and left to his own devices to sort it out for himself. A psychologist from Canggu concerned about the number of women turning up to her office after emotional breakdowns caused by breathwork sessions – in each case they were travelling alone and had no one to support them in their extremely vulnerable state. A woman who was doing a private mandala class with an expat guy who first tried to screw her – and when she rejected him – he disparaged her and told her she was weak and stupid. I left the island very sadden for those who came here to find a peace and clarity of mind – only to be swayed by the Ubud celebrities as I called them. They missed out on the true beauty of the ‘Island of the Gods’ – distracted by a marketing machine designed to line the pockets of the expats. I was conned by an expat financially. I came away with an understanding to respect the local community of the land you travel to – wherever it may be. You might actually learn something.

  28. Michele Hodes:Thanks for writing & sharing this article. I’ve been an ostrich & until now, completely oblivious to these happenings. Although, sadly, I am not surprised they have occurred. How do we cultivate appropriate boundaries for teachers & practitioners without stifling creativity & progress? Where does the onus of safety lie? With teachers? with venues? with practitioners? It is complex but it really does need addressing. We need a UN for yoga.

  29. Cathie McGill Thank you for sharing, this is an important issue. Wow. .. it’s another case of Extremes. My concerns over Yoga and Trauma are that it’s like the In thing. Having complex trauma from childhood and practising Yoga for 28years I can attest to the practices as being like an anchor. And those triggers and subconscious patterns continue to linger regardless of any cure or fix of Trauma, and I am yet convinced that Trauma can be healed completely.
    What requires healing is our relationships with each other and building safe and loving communities where the environment we live in is free from harm Ahimsa.
    In terms of Pranayama..researching various schools of Yoga you will find some abstain from any retention, and those that use it , it is only after the practitioner has reached a stage of development.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s