Kripalu Guest Stories: Jeff DeBonis
Kripalu is the place where I have gone during big transitions to remember my true self. It’s where I learned to integrate yoga and meditation into my life. As dramatic as it may sound, Kripalu really saved me—more than once.
I first came to Kripalu in the ’90s, when I started to experience the symptoms of chronic fatigue as the result of four years at a very demanding, high pressure, and draining job in Washington DC. I never felt rested and was constantly exhausted. I couldn’t find the energy to exercise, even though in the past I’d exercised a lot. It all had a terrible effect on my life and my work.
At some point I had heard about Kripalu, and I decided to go there for an R&R retreat. It was just what I needed to recuperate from all the stress. Kripalu provided the space for me to stop the constant running. I’d done yoga on and off since high school, but not consistently. During my stay, I took as many meditation and yoga classes as I could, laying the groundwork for what would become a regular practice.
In 1999, after moving back to Oregon and taking a year and a half off work, I came for a monthlong Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training. By the time you’re done with that month, you’ve really started living more healthfully. The training also allowed me to integrate yoga into my consulting business, which helps environmental activists who are heading for burnout but don’t know what to do about it—the same road that I traveled. Now I teach a program called Heart to Heart, a sampling of yoga, meditation, and breathing/pranayama. It’s experiential, so people actually do it—and leave with their own practice.
Last year, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. To prepare for the operation, I got in really good physical condition through exercising—and I returned to Kripalu for a week of yoga and meditation. By the time I got to the operating room, I was in really good mental and physical condition. I recuperated very quickly—my doctor said I was his second-fastest procedure ever, in part because I was in such good condition. The operation was a complete success. All cancer was removed, and no follow-up chemo or radiation were needed. I am now cancer free.
All my times at Kripalu have been “aha” moments. Kripalu is a spiritual place for me and what I’ve learned there helps me in all different levels of my life. I am so grateful that you—the people of Kripalu—are all there. Thank you.
—Jeff DeBonis, consultant, Hood River, Oregon