When I arrived at Kripalu Yoga Center to teach a spirituality writing workshop, part of the welcome by a staff member was an invitation to use the whirlpool and sauna… “clothing optional.” At the time I thought nothing of that statement, I may even have dismissed it with a small laugh.
The next day, after two emotionally-charged workshop sessions with an inspiring group of women, I decided a dip in a steaming hot whirlpool was just what I needed. I tugged on my appropriately matronly bathing suit, layered my clothes back on top and walked down the five flights of stairs to the basement. Opening the women’s locker-room door I realized I was severely over-dressed for the occasion. There was skin. Lots of skin. Women of all colors, ages and shapes un-self-consciously walked around, showered, and chatted adorned in nothing but their natural, wonderful and un-Photoshopped beauty. I was in awe of them. As I peeled down to my suddenly ridiculous suit, my modesty felt prudish. Prude or not, though, I couldn’t bring myself to do the buff-thing – a life-time of conditioning had taught me I should be ashamed of my nakedness. But while sitting in the almost zero-visibility of the whirlpool I thought how very socialized I was being, and how so very, very silly.
And that’s what Kripalu means to me: a place where one can truly be free of society’s “rules.” If you would prefer not to speak for a few days you can request a name tag which says “in respectful silence;” if want to spend an entire day doing nothing but sit and stare out at the Berkshires or lie in corpse pose, feel free; or if you wish to dance around to a drum beat with arms and legs flapping and the blissful abandon of a child, you may. No one is judging you, no one thinks you’re being strange, lazy, or silly. You’re just BEING.
While a visit to Kripalu for me meant new career opportunities, it also showed me a world where Freedom to be your whole, delicious, human self is the norm, not the eccentric. I believe this is one reason Kripalu is a haven for so many. A place of authenticity is hard to find out in the “real” world (irony not lost on me there). People find healing at Kripalu for more reasons than the fabulous food, inspiring workshops, or therapeutic and rejuvenating professional services. It is because when we are real and authentic, we patch a little piece of our broken and fragmented Self. It is essential self-love. And just like the Velveteen Rabbit, the more love we give ourselves, the more Real we become. The more Real, the more Healed.
Clothing optional. Authenticity Required.
Prompt: How authentic are you in your everyday life?
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