For our honeymoon, we went to Kripalu, a yoga retreat center in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. We had originally planned to go to Hawaii, but it just didn’t feel right, and after the emotional exhaustion of planning a wedding, we just didn’t feel like going that far.
So we went to Kripalu. It was fairly close, and we had been wanting to go but didn’t know how to make it happen, and friends had raved to us about it. Plus, we really wanted to move a lot and be in nature for our honeymoon.
Well. I’m pleased to report that going to Kripalu for our honeymoon was pretty much the best decision we’ve ever made. From the moment we stepped out of the car, I was in love. The air smelled sweet there (truly; I’m not using that as an expression). The whole Kripalu campus was simple yet incredibly thoughtful and intentional. There were fields of wildflowers all around, and wooden benches to sit on seemed to appear everywhere you walked. Meals found us sitting outdoors, chatting with new friends, while tiny bunnies with cottony tails munched on the grass a few feet away and chipmunks darted to and fro, tails held high in the air like delicate pipe cleaners.
There was so much to do, and also so much to not do. There were yoga classes to take, and talks to attend on interesting things like yoga for depression. There were jubilant yoga dance parties on offer, hiking to do, a lake to lounge by and swim in, and a vast grass lawn to doze on with a book.
Really and truly, if there’s a heaven, I think it looks just like Kripalu.
I realized on our first day there that this trip was, for me, all about communion. Communion with my new wife, communion with nature, and communion with other people. That proved true over and over again during our six days there in the Berkshires. Through the intentionally cultivated environment, the thoughtful classes, and the kind people gathered together, I experienced communion. I found myself sitting down with strangers and talking with them in an unselfconscious way that I usually only experience with good friends. I felt a deeper, more understanding bond forming with Mary through the shared experiences.
Floating in a kayak one day, I felt so very teeny tiny in comparison to the water and the trees and the enormous upside-down bowl of the sky. I also felt less separate, like I really was (really am) made up of the same stuff as everybody and everything else around me. Ever since, one of my favorite Kimya Dawson songs, I Like Giants, has been running through my head:
“When I go for a drive I like to pull off to the side
Of the road, turn out the lights, get out and look up at the sky
And I do this to remind me that I’m really, really tiny
In the grand scheme of things and sometimes this terrifies me
But it’s only really scary ’cause it makes me feel serene
In a way I never thought I’d be because I’ve never been
So grounded, and so humbled, and so one with everything
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything.”
The week was kind of like experiencing an extended stay with the self I am when I coach: connected, deeply compassionate, grounded, wise, curious, silly, patient. But it was even better because I got to share it with Mary and the bunny rabbits and my fellow visitors to Kripalu.
I wanted to share this here because, well, Kripalu brought me back to myself, and I want that for you, too. It’s a definite investment, but there are ways to make it less costly. Most of the housing is dorm-style, and there’s even the option of becoming a part of Kripalu long-term by volunteering and studying there for six months or longer. There are also options to purchase day passes if you happen to be nearby and want a day of relaxation and communion.
Also, in case you’re concerned about diversity (like I was), I can tell you that there definitely are people of color, queer folks, people of all ages, and people of all body shapes and sizes there. There are definitely many more women than men, but the men in our group both said at the end that they felt very comfortable despite some initial trepidation and were enormously glad they had come.
I know I’m certainly glad I went. When we finally got back to Brooklyn after some stressful Friday traffic, I hopped onto Kripalu’s website, already dreaming about the next time I’ll find myself there.
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Comments: What experiences have given you a sense of communion with yourself, other people, and the world? How might you cultivate more of those in your life?