Before I ever stepped foot on the Kripalu grounds, my brother, who had just spent a week there, called me and said, “Al, if you go to Kripalu, you won’t come back.” About six months later, I packed my bags and headed to the Berkshires to take the leap from yoga practitioner to yoga teacher, and to put my brother’s hypothesis to the test. I had no idea just how right it would prove to be. I was about to meet my longtime teacher, whose teachings would rock my practice, alter my life views, and completely unravel my understanding of myself. I was about to meet my future husband, who would join me on this ecstatic and terrifying journey of life. I was about to embark on a whole new career, weaving together several life passions. Eight years later, Kripalu is still at the hub of my life. When I park my car and walk across the breathtaking grounds, I sometimes find myself saying a silent thank you to this crucible that has helped me create a life that I love, one that I never could have imagined when I first heard my brother’s words. —Allison Gemmel LaFramboise, Kripalu Yoga teacher and faculty member
Karen Arp-Sandel is a Kripalu Yoga teacher, part of the YIS Team, member of BKC ,and presenter of the Vibrant Visionary Collage Program here at Kripalu. Below, Karen shares her inspiration in creating this Ganesh.
Inspired by all things Ganesh and Bollywood, I found myself creating this fun folk art icon last spring after teaching my 2012 Vibrant Visionary Collage workshop. It is a mixed-media assemblage constructed as a collage in three dimensions with re-purposed, recycled materials. Ganesh, the deity known as The Remover of Obstacles, became a very powerful figure for me after I participated in a wonderful KYTA Conference mantra chanting workshop.
I’ve always been an exceedingly devoted friend, so much so that, when I was in high school, my father, perhaps in a fit of frustration and almost certainly with unintended cruelty, informed me that my friends would never be there for me the way I insisted on being there for them. I’m guessing, now, that he was only trying to protect me from hurt and disappointment, or perhaps encourage a sense of cynicism (that has since served me well as a journalist, if not as an optimist). But at the time it only made me feel sad. That might be his experience, I thought, but it wasn’t going to be mine. Once I made a friend, I made a friend for life.
At 35, I’ve largely stuck to this philosophy, collecting friends through my various life experiences—college, jobs, yoga classes, travels—and only rarely shedding them. Perhaps this need to connect with and amass people—a mix of confidantes and companions—is a byproduct of being an only child; I seek friends to fill the space siblings otherwise might have. For a few summers in my twenties, though, the habit had me spending the bulk of my weekends at weddings. It was not a cheap hobby.
“The spiritual path that I teach is called Sanatana Dharma, which means the way of eternal truth. Sanatana Dharma is not a sectarian creed or point of view. It is the performance of skillful actions that lead one to the direct realization of truth.”—Swami Kripalu
Where we look for answers to this question can make all the difference between fantasies and dreams come true.
I’ve been teaching at Kripalu for more than 15 years now—and throughout most of that time, I’ve been Kripalu’s Senior Scholar-in-Residence. Each year, I teach hundreds of people in hatha yoga programs, in yoga philosophy programs, and in personal growth programs. Sometimes I feel like I’ve inadvertently landed on one of the great pilgrimage routes of modern times, seeing—as we do here at Kripalu—a river of more than 32,000 contemporary seekers a year: modern versions, sometimes, of the ribald seekers of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or the more innocent characters of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
Each of these contemporary pilgrims brings along his or her own story, of course, and each story is compelling. But over the years I’ve come to see that these stories, unique as they are on the surface, often have one central longing at their core, one insistent question: How can I live fully?
Our seekers phrase this question in so many different ways: How can I live a passionate and authentic human life? How can I discover the full potential of this human mind, body, spirit?
One of the things I love about cooking with whole grains—in addition to amazing nutritional value—is the versatility and the myriad possibilities of creating great new dishes from leftovers. This month I’ve taken one large pot of plain brown rice and turned it into six meals. Here’s how:
First, make an extra-large batch of plain brown rice (short or medium grain). Start with 3 cups of dry rice and 5½ cups of water; you’ll end up with close to 9 cups of cooked rice. Enjoy the brown rice the first night with stir-fried vegetables and a protein of choice (tofu, nuts, organic chicken, or fresh fish)—this is meal number one.
Ever wonder why it’s easy to call forth self-discipline one moment, but difficult in another? Several years ago, researcher Dr. Roy Baumeister, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida, pondered the same question. To understand why self-discipline can be elusive, Dr. Baumeister and his team ran an experiment: they wanted to know whether or not self-discipline was like a muscle—something that could be weakened with overuse. To test this question, they brought a group of hungry subjects into their lab and had each subject enter into a room with a bowl of cookies and a bowl of radishes on a table. They told half of the group not to eat the cookies, but instead to eat the radishes. The other group could eat whatever they wanted. (They all ate the cookies.) Then, immediately following this experience, the subjects were brought into another room, where they were asked to complete a complex math problem. In actuality, the math problem was insolvable—the researchers were actually measuring how long the subjects persevered in trying to complete it.
Lori Shridhare, guest blogger
One late evening in August 1990, I sat alone in the Bologna train station in northern Italy, frustrated that I had missed my overnight train to France. I was winding down my summer of backpacking through Europe and my last year as a teenager. Hot and sweaty, I had no choice but to take a local train with no sleeping cars for the hour-long journey to Milan, then several more hours to Lyon. I climbed aboard the crowded train and sat in a car with a priest and three women. As I settled into my seat, Walkman hugging my ears, a tall, distinguished twenty-something young man sat in the remaining seat across from me. His wavy blondish-brown hair curled behind his ears, with strands falling along his designer glasses. What stood out most to me were his clear aqua eyes, his suspenders strapped over his lavender button-down shirt, and his sharp nose. He looked like a European fashion model, and I hoped he’d be sitting across from me all night.
How meditation can help you be a better friend.
Meditation has long been celebrated for all it can do for us, among the benefits: lower blood pressure, reduce stress, help us sleep, and even possibly help us lose weight. But a recent study also found that meditation might help us be better friends and partners. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found that many participants who had practiced eight weeks of meditation showed significant improvement in their ability to identify the emotions of people in photos based on their expressions. That is, they were more in tune with the feelings of others.