“The human shape is a ghost made of distraction and pain.
Sometimes pure light, sometimes cruel, trying wildly to open, this image tightly held within itself.” ~ Rumi
My yoga journey got real the day I declared there was no purpose in life. It was sometime in December 2006, and I was at the lowest of the lowest. Depression wrapped its tentacles tightly around me and I couldn’t pull myself out. It was my dark night of the soul. Earlier that year, I graduated from yoga teacher training at Kripalu and I thought being a yoga teacher would provide some financial stability to support myself as a performing artist but I was wrong. The glory and inspiration I felt at the end of the training did not survive the harshness and hopelessness I felt about my life in New York City. My marriage was failing, and so was my career as a performing artist.
One night I woke up from a nightmare and couldn’t go back to sleep. I sat in bed despondent. My will to keep my marriage and career going finally collapsed and dissolved. It was like a magic show; it went poof and disappeared.
In April 2007, I got an opportunity to move into Kripalu as an intern to become a yoga teacher trainer. I took the position not because that was my dream but because I just needed a ticket out of NYC. Little did I know living at Kripalu and throwing myself into selfless service would ultimately save my life and sanity. I experienced much mercy and grace from the Divine in those eight years I spent there. Swami Kripalu’s teachings were the balm that nurtured my broken Soul and brought my Spirit back to wholeness.
Life at the Kripalu Center was full of magic and wonder. I was very lucky to work with many incredible senior teachers and staff to deliver the Kripalu experience. We worked hard, studied hard, and laughed equally hard as we built conscious and loving relationships with each other. I think one of the most striking experiences during my time at Kripalu was being able to bear witness to how devotion to love, selfless service and sangha gradually lifted me out of my depression. It took years, but I was finally able to swim side by side with depression instead of drowning in it.
There are five teachings that drastically altered my life and consciousness.
1. The value of self-observation with compassion.
2. The inquiry process.
3. Building trust in relationships.
4. Satya - Truthfulness.
5. The path of love.
Over time, these teachings became my values and building blocks as I developed the skills to transform my own suffering into precious gems of wisdom. The path of love has a special place in my heart. I remember one afternoon while I was walking in Babuji’s Garden at the Kripalu Center, I felt an immense feeling of openness and an acute clarity in vision and mind. Suddenly time stopped and I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of unconditional love. I kneeled and cried.
Weeks later, I met Dr. Satya Narayana Dasia, a renowned yoga master, and sat in one of his dharma talks on the practice of love. He asked the class “Do you know how to love?” Hearing his question was a light bulb moment for me. I realized I didn’t really know how to love. And I finally understood that on the path of Self-Realization, it is important and necessary to keep asking questions. Asking questions got me out of Spiritual complacency and the mindless regurgitation of Spiritual teachings.
Over the years, my yoga journey has taken me to many depths and heights. I have grown so much, and I attribute much of my successful relationships to these values that I adopted from my days at Kripalu. Above all, the subject of love became a forefront inquiry for me. Learning about love and how to love have been so humbling. And after 14 years of inquiry, I am still just scratching the surface. Love is as vast as the sky and ocean, and as mysterious as the night and the moon. I strongly believe love is the answer to our divides. I invite you to deeply inquire into love and I shall leave you with this question from the book True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Do you have time to love?”