Ahhhhhh. Retreats. Funny enough my trip to Kripalu did make me retreat into myself. I was never a very social person and going off to a place chock full of people I would have to hob-knob with is very much out of character for me. I love to isolate myself, am happy as a clam all on my own, I crave time by myself and have always been like that. Immersing myself in a crowd of 700 people is the last thing I would do if I was in my right mind.
I had been drawn there to do the first level of a course in animal communication with Penelope Smith. In preparation for the passing of my sweet, old dog, I had read Smith's, "Animals in Spirit" book earlier this year. That book changed my way of thinking about pets and animals by 180 degrees. It was an immediate and never-going-back shift. When I put the book down I felt that I had to meet this woman, had to be in her presence. Things all came together when I found the offering of the first stage of her instruction at Kripalu on the dates when I had extra hands on board for my son and I was off of work. Kripalu is a mere 5 hour drive from where I live, completely do-able. It was a words-cannot-describe experience. Naturally, I met like-minded people, equally excited with similar hopes and shared one of a kind experiences. A room of 20 strangers gathered, opened up, learned and hopefully will go out and share. Oh yeah, there was quite a bit of crying too. And a good share of laughter. This little-big guy, Speed, had a few special words for me, thanks Speed, what you gave to me will stay with me always.
Kripalu is a yoga based retreat center with classes for all levels offered multiple times a day. The days I was there it was hot, especially hot and humid for the mountains and it was flooded with yoginis. Nice people, yoginis. I do yoga regularly in my home, even wake up at an ungodly hour to fit it in, but I felt a bit like a geek in high school. I don't wear the yogini clothes, don't speak the yogini speak. The difference between now and that high school awkwardness is that I was there as a seeker and none of that differentness mattered.
I did take one early morning yoga class. It was full to the brim, we bumped elbows and toes and the whole room smelled like feet. It's kind of hard to find your Om under those circumstances. And I am so very grateful there were no random farters in that class. Every other yoga class I have taken there is always one person who really feels free enough to let go. With no judgment meant to those free and unselfconscious farters. There are even times I wish I felt that kind of personal freedom. I'm just not there yet.
I left only one rock behind, deep in the woods.
And speaking of rocks, I ended my journey with a side trip to the Queen of Arts at her home. I got to see her studio, meet her animals (hi Dave!). Even her garden has royalty.
Ever the graceful Queen, she left a beautiful bouquet of freshly cut flowers from her garden (the blue hydrangeas may or may not have been stolen) in the room where I slept.
Even the kitchen window was be-flowered.
I got a candid silhouette of Cosmo the Cat.
But wait a minute - what is that I see, in her garden?
Let me get closer...
Is it..... is it... a large, unpainted rock?!