My birthday was this past Saturday and I spent it up in the Berkshires at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Going to Kripalu on my birthday has been a tradition for 4 years now— it's my time to relax, revive and reflect on the past year of my life….and experience the sheer joy of being in a place that fits me so perfectly.
When I first visited Kripalu 5 years ago, I immediately recognized how difficult and exhausting it has been for me to live in society. It could take me hours to explain that, but quite simply I have felt pressure my whole life to act a certain way, dress a certain way, have a certain job and be interested in living a life that, for me, does not work. I even felt this while living in San Francisco, a place that fit me pretty well! I suppose a great majority of this pressure is self-imposed, but I can't feel the faintest hint of it, internally or externally, when I am at Kripalu. That is what draws me there. My inner artist/yogi/natural-living freak/weirdo/hippie feels nurtured and confident in its existence. My inner critic and outside opinions lose their power.
Just two months prior to the beginning of my relationship with my now-husband, I was filling out application forms for the selfless service program (Seva) at Kripalu, which would have meant living at the center for 4 months while learning yogic philosophy, practicing yoga and meditating, and working 35 hours a week in a volunteer position. Of course, things changed when I fell in love with my husband so I never mailed in the application. I don't for a second regret that decision, but it has formed an imaginary fork in the road in my head that once in a great while leaves me wondering where that experience would have taken me. More often though, I find myself contemplating my actual life and how to find a balance between that and the counter-culture existence I've always been drawn toward. I think this through every year on my birthday as I gaze out across the hills of the Berkshires, soaking in the glory of every pine tree and every glimmer of sunshine off the lake below. And every year I find myself closer to my true self, which is a good sign! This year I have the added peace of knowing that I am actually moving to the Berkshires next month (although my new town is about 40 minutes from Kripalu, but has the same landscape at these photos).
Not a shabby place to eat breakfast.
The main building looks so drab and parochial, but it is the most welcoming sight to me.
The perfect necklace for me (thanks hubby!): a hamsa pendant, which is said to protect the wearer from negative energy, warding off bad thoughts, while harnessing positive energy.