Indonesians in Focus: Endah Lasmadiwati
In the past, Endah Lasmadiwati had been a famous Balinese dance trainer at seven dance studios in Jakarta. But in 1980, life took a bad twist when all the studios went bankrupt, leaving her depressed, sick and almost paralyzed. In this desperate situation she prayed to regain her strength, through meditation and fasting. She learned to let God’s will direct her life. Now, the 60-year-old is the proud owner of Taman Sringanis, a park of medicinal herbs and a center for the development of natural health remedies in Cimanengah village of Bogor, West Java.
She said Taman Sringanis was set up largely due to the suffering she experienced.
“In 1980, I was sick and almost paralyzed because I was so depressed,” she said.
“At that time I believed my reputation as a Balinese dance trainer was finished. The seven Balinese dance studios where I taught had collapsed and I lost 350 students.”
She tried hard to recover and became a member of the Susila Budi Darma meditation group in Cilandak, South Jakarta. Through meditation and prayer she found peace and strength, and in 1989 her health recovered according to Theresia Sufa.
Through her suffering, she said, she became aware that every human being has been given extraordinary strength by God.
“Every time I prayed I always asked God to bless me and to help me develop the strength within myself so I could be useful to other people,” she said.
She started learning acupressure and acupuncture in 1992. A year later, she learned about the medicinal ingredients of herbs.
She also learned massage techniques from Broto Sudibyo, an expert on natural ingredients at the community development center Bethesda in Yogyakarta.
She also learned about breathing and meditation techniques with Sri Haryanto, the owner of the Anugerah Agung Yogyakarta training center.
“This training was designed to help us became capable of diagnosing a disease,” she said. “Afterwards, I was aware that human beings have to create a balance between the power of thought and the power of sense.”
Endah started to practice what she’d learned, going to villages across regions such as Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, Medan in North Sumatra and Aceh. A nongovernmental organization involved in health once invited her to teach her skills.
She taught people how to massage and cure themselves using medicinal plants that can be found in the wild.
The meetings with villagers were interesting experiences, she said, because she could exchange information with them about the kinds of medicinal plants in their region.
She also used these opportunities to collect medicinal herbs which she added to the Taman Sringanis collection.
In the park, set up in 1992 on 1,000 square meters of land, she grows about 400 varieties of medicinal plants.
“Sometimes I was disappointed because the people who I entrusted to manage this plantation couldn’t look after the plants properly, so many herbs died,” she said.
Endah did not have enough time to personally take care of her medicinal plants since she was busy traveling to many places, giving speeches about maintaining health and explaining how to make compounds of traditional medicines.
Taman Sringanis has often been promoted as a tourist garden of medicinal herbs. It also serves as a training grounds for different health issues, from meditation to HIV, and hosts short training programs about compounding medicines.
There is also an acupuncture service and visitors can buy traditional medicine compounds sold at Sringanis traditional medicine house.
Endah’s reputation has surprised her, she said.
She has authored several health-themed books, compiled with the help of her colleagues, including The Daily Beneficial Use of Plants to Overcome Disease, Increasing Your Mental Powers, Reducing Blood Sugar Levels, Expressing Thanks Through Plants, and Independent Health Through Acupressure and Herbs.
A senior high school graduate, she now hosts many important guests, from regency heads to high-ranking officials.
“There’s even been a number of doctors and a group of people who were close to retirement who came here just to hear my talks about independent health.
“They enthusiastically followed every topic I presented. I’m happy if visitors who come to Taman Sringanis go home with a cheerful heart because they get a useful experience and valuable information about their health,” she said.