Sacred Hospitality: Serving with Compassion

During the Covid-19 catalyzed shut down of our retreat center, we started a deeper dialogue as a team around what enables transformation for the Kripalu community. We talked a lot about the educational programs we offer and the power of the land that we are stewards of. But we know that our community talks about the food, the “feel” of the center, the people, the welcome, so we wanted to articulate what that was so we could ensure we strengthen this as part of how we serve.

Sacred hospitality is a concept that can be observed in cultures all around the world. Many Native American cultures held sacred hospitality as a cardinal principle in their tribe. In India and Nepal, hospitality is based on the principle Atithi Devo Bhava, meaning the guest is God. In the Celtic tradition hospitality is considered a sacred act, to take care of another’s needs and provide comfort and shelter is to be like God. Hospitium is the ancient Greco-Roman concept of hospitality as a divine right of the guest and a divine duty of the host.

Kripalu recognizes the inspired opportunity to support and guide, individuals and communities through the wisdom and practices of yoga. We are committed to embodying the concepts and practices of sacred hospitality drawing from and integrating our yogic values.

The following reminders help us live the teachings in each moment of the day, with ourselves, each other, and the whole Kripalu community:

Meet all people in their wholeness.

We bring compassionate and focused presence into each interaction.
We use the full range of our verbal and nonverbal communication skills to engage in each interaction.
We recognize everyone as whole and complete just as they are. We honor the unique journey of each individual and the value of their inner wisdom.
We hold each person with a deep reverence and interact from a place of love and acceptance.

Celebrate the wisdom within each person.

We recognize each of us is an ever-evolving, dynamic being and each of us offers something unique to the community and to the world.
We value and appreciate constructive feedback from the community.

Create a container—and brave space—to be with our experience as it is.

We recognize that each of us is directly influencing the retreat space through our physical and energetic presence.
We recognize the importance of holding this awareness in the choices we make and the interactions we have.
We each recognize our role in creating a place where everyone can feel they belong.  

Teach body, mind, and heart practices to become aware of and respond skillfully to our experiences.

We are trained and confident in responding to challenging situations using these practices.
We can and will model these practices for guests whenever applicable.

Encourage wellbeing, skillful action, and service in the world through the inquiry into and integration of the inner self.

Through our commitment to well-being and liberation, we aim to be a model of skillful action and compassionate service.

We are not perfect, we never will be, and we won’t even try to be. We are committed to showing up and serving with open hearts and strong backs. We hope that this lens on hospitality—inspired by many traditions and thousands of years of inspiration—will enable the Kripalu community to embark upon a journey of discovery and transformation. A journey that walks us all home.

Robert Mulhall is the CEO of Kripalu. He is passionate about service and deeply curious about how people can facilitate sustainable transformation to enable more peace, justice, and freedom in our world.

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