“Truth cannot belong to any one race, sect, or nation. It does not recognize such narrow distinctions and makes itself available to the whole world.”—Swami Kripalu
I sit at my kitchen table smiling as I gaze lovingly at my newly acquired collection of cookbooks. With titles such as Jerusalem, Turquoise: A Chef’s Travels in Turkey, Mourad New Moroccan, and A Mediterranean Feast , each recipe- and photo-filled volume must weigh at least five pounds. These books are souvenirs that I brought back from my visit this past weekend to the Culinary Institute of America’s annual Worlds of Flavors conference near San Francisco. This year’s theme was Arc of Flavors: Re-imagining Culinary Exchange, from the Mediterranean and Middle East to Asia, and indeed we explored much of the world and its fabulous flavors.
The conference was quite the experience: Imagine 700 chefs watching 70 other chefs and restaurateurs from about 30 countries sharing their interpretations of the food and cooking styles of their region. And then we ate. And ate. And ate!
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