Kristen C.

When I left Kripalu, I was sure that life would sweep me away and bury the progress I had made. Boy, was I wrong!

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

I went to Kripalu intending to progress from beginner to intermediate-level yoga. I took the Energy Intensive, taught by Richard Faulds (Shobhan) and Jonathan Foust (Sudhir). That was all I knew as I drove west on I-90 from Boston to Stockbridge. I didn’t even know whether Kripalu served food. Nor did I know that those old stone gates would be the entrance to a whole new world.

At Kripalu, strangers smiled at each other. Vegan food tasted good. I ate breakfast in silence. For the first time in a long time, I felt warm, nurtured, and safe.

Before I knew it, Sunday rolled around. It was time to go home. I knew the program had changed me, but my life at home would continue as before. How could I speak again after having savored silence? How could I go back to non-vegan food after having experienced such boundless energy? How would I explain my Kripalu experience to friends and family? I felt nervous and scared, sure that my life would sweep me away again and bury the progress I had made at Kripalu. Boy, was I wrong!

As always, it was food and family that welcomed me home and softened the transition. My brother made stewed oxtail and pasta for dinner that night. We made guacamole together; I mashed avocados with a fork as he sprinkled in diced onions, garlic, and tomatoes. For dessert, we had tiramisu and panna cotta with burnt sugar. The meal was unlike anything served at Kripalu, and yet so like everything served at Kripalu. Both fed my soul.

Across the table, we laughed and drank wine and talked. My dad and I shared comical looks while my brother and his friend took pokes at each other. The table felt so warm and welcoming, like Kripalu. Like home. Somewhere between pasta and dessert, I realized that my heart was still open, even though I was eating non-vegan food and chatting. The loving, openhearted person I had been at Kripalu was still alive and shining. In fact, it may have always been there.

It takes time to reintegrate the mind and body back into life after a transformation. The process of integrating my “Kripalu self” into the rest of my life will be long and, at times, difficult. But what I discovered here will never fade. I know that now.

My life once again has deadlines. I have meetings to attend and no time to sit and savor every bite of food the way I did at Kripalu. But a few things have changed. I've started practicing silence in the morning and making recipes from the few vegan cookbooks I own. Yoga and meditation feel more important than ever before. And—bonus!— I am less afraid to listen to my family, friends, and coworkers with an open heart and mind.

At the end of the day, we are archives of knowledge and experiences. We—and, by extension, Kripalu—exist beyond those stone gates. Who we are at Kripalu is not separate from who we are at home. If anything, they are now closer together. We only have to look.

—Kristin C., Boston, Massachusetts