“Continue under all circumstances”…that one tactic – perseverence – can put you on a dead-end road, and then what do you do? – Natalie Goldberg
I have spent this past weekend at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts – and it’s been heaven! I am here to study with Natalie Goldberg, but more importantly, I am here to take some time to rest, to recharge, and to reconnect with myself and my interests.
This place is amazing. Many years ago it was a Jesuit seminary, and then it was an ashram, and then when the ashram lost its guru in the mid-nineties it became a yoga and retreat center. It has since expanded to include general rest and relaxation retreats that include a variety of classes and healing modalities such as massage, as well as other educational offerings in areas such as health and wellness, spirituality, and writing. The grounds are breathtaking, the facilities are well-kept and as environmentally sustainable as possible (including the new construction where I am sleeping), and the food it organic and yummy! If you haven’t been, you really should see it at least once in your life. Even the animals here feel the peaceful vibe – I almost tripped over a rabbit yesterday who was just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. I didn’t even notice him, because I wasn’t looking (talk about mindfulness!) – and anyway, where else would a rabbit just sit there while I person is walking towards him? How was I to know to keep open a wary eye for overly-trusting animals? There have been turkeys outside my window since yesterday’s rainstorm, gobble-gobbling away, but I can’t see them from here even though they sound close enough to be on my windowsill. In my experience, wild turkeys are masters of disguise.
Natalie Goldberg teaches “writing practice” as part of one’s Zen practice. This seminar has consisted of sitting meditation, a brief teaching, and then she gives you a prompt and you GO – write for ten minutes, fifteen minutes, twenty-five minutes. This is not only a way to train yourself as a writer, but also a way to study your mind and the way it moves. If you keep your hand moving, it’s amazing what comes out!
The guilt I am feeling about coming here, about taking the time and the money to do this for myself, about leaving my kids for the weekend, is pretty painful. But the truth is, I really needed to do something extreme for me right now. It’s been an exceptionally challenging month or two for me as I have been dealing with some personal and health-related stuff, and an intense six months with the stuff that has been going on at Bess’ school, and really an exhausting six years since Bess was born. All my life I have just pushed on, refused to acknowledge the pain unless it was so bad that I literally could not move, believed that I could will myself out of any challenge or difficult circumstance. And now here I am, and I see clearly that I have been mistaken, and I have much new learning to do. This weekend represents a start of a new path, a new system of living and coping for me, a cracking open of the old ways so that there is room for something new. I am nervous and excited and full of fear, but that’s life, right?