Kripalu is located in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. The building used to be home to the Jesuits, but is now a nationally established Yoga and Healing Arts Center. Many people are there attending a weekend or week-long workshop, but I paid my $ 142.00 and went for some unstructured--and quite anonymous--time for myself. I'm not accustomed to going away by myself and I don't think I've ever before gone 24 hours without talking to another person, but that is what I did. I spent my time writing, thinking, resting, thinking some more, dancing, stretching and breathing. I had a massage. It was all good for me. In the process I achieved and affirmed the acceptance I was seeking.The Kripalu dining room seats about 300 people. Food is served through a buffet line and is remarkably delicious, especially since it is totally vegetarian. Even the scrambled eggs weren't made from eggs, but they tasted just fine. Everyone is asked to eat breakfast in monk-like silence, a practice I find "sacred" and comforting for some reason. I mixed yogurt with walnuts and raisins and fresh fruit, spread real peanut butter on sesame seed toast, feasted on roasted yams and fish chowder and brown rice with tomato salad, and finished off two pieces of carob chocolate cake with frosting. I went back for seconds and sat in silence, eating slowly and taking it in consciously.
You get your choice of rooms at Kripalu: you can stay on one of 3 floors in a 12-30 bed dormitory or you can pay more and get a small room with two flat surface/thin matress beds. Either way, there are no locks on any of the doors. Each bed comes with a sheet, blanket, pillow, two towels, a small alarm clock, and a goose neck lamp. That's it. I was VERY fortunate to get a lower bunk in a room that had only one other person there. The bed was hard and small. I slept in a nest, felt monk-like, and I didn't mind.
The bathrooms and showers are down the hall. Normally I would hate that, but they were clean and part of the deal. Acceptance. It was good for me.
Throughout the building there are spaces to sit, meditate, relax, think, write. Coffee is available but only begrudgingly--often you have to pay for it in the gift store, walk across the hall to get it and drink it, and the coffee pots are whisked away altogether by late afternoon.
Every floor has meditation, sunrooms and small sitting spaces, most overlooking the lake and the mountains behind it. Voices are low and footsteps are slow. This is a quiet place where you are much more aware of your breathing and movements.
Kripalu has scheduled yoga and meditation classes and times throughout the day. This is one of the main halls. On Saturday night I went to drumming there and danced/moved to my heart's content without concern that someone might be watching (or even worse, judging!) me. On Sunday morning at 6:30 am I went to 90 minutes of baby yoga. It is really called Gentle Yoga--the least demanding of 3 levels offered--but i like the term 'baby yoga'. It's somewhat misleading though: for me it was a workout--I sweated.
I thought I saw my friend Willa several times during my stay. Willa died two years ago, but Kripalu was her kind of place. Among other things, she taught "Opening the Heart" workshops and liked nothing better than this kind of environment. A couple of times I really thought it was her. Even though I have dealt with the tremendous void in losing her, for a few seconds I still thought it was her. Damn. I'd like nothing better than to have her back, even for a hour.
The grounds are spacious. People hike and stroll and take workshops geared to the great outdoors. I however don't. The few times that I've been at Kripalu I stay inside, proud of myself for falling asleep at 9:30 pm and even prouder for getting up with the sun and making it to baby yoga. Someday I will graduate from sitting in a lawn chair to walking the paths, but not this time.
I was alone but not lonely. I gave myself time to think and feel. I moved. I put myself somewhere where healing and being present are valued and encouraged. I wrote a letter. I wrote a story. I ate healthy food. I prayed. I took breaks. I had a massage. I was anonymous. I had nothing to prove and nowhere to go. I came home relaxed and calm. I made sure I was not stuck or disappointed. I recognized and honored all the love and appreciation and reasons I have to be grateful and content. I'm kind of proud of myself.....