“What would Bapuji do?” That zinger of a question popped right out the other day, not of my mouth, but of my beloved husband Trond’s. It was exactly the right question to help us cut to the chase in the peskiest conundrum I may have faced since becoming a published author. The problem has been building for years and is coming to a gut-wrenching head.
Because Trond never met Bapuji, his question startled us both. Bapuji, aka Swami Kripalvanand, is the other beloved man in my life (not counting our adorable son). He is also the Yoga Master for whom my long ago, long time Kripalu Yoga path is named. I spent many hours at his holy lotus feet during his four and a quarter years in America and he apparently got into my system!
In fact, after typing up the spontaneous journal pages that became Bare Naked at the Reality Dance, Journal One, I discovered Bapuji and his stamp on my soul throughout. It was he—and the nuggets gleaned at his feet—who turned me from plain, old writer into published author. And with that we unleashed a shitload of questions around who I am and what I am supposed to be doing—about this conundrum of mine and, really, for the rest of my life.
What would Bapuji do? Trond and I instantly embraced his unexpected question as spot-on, but we have yet to answer it. I hope to do that over the next few posts and I also hope that what I learn about myself and our world may be of use to you too.
I’ve hesitated until now to say what I’m going to say for anyone but myself. That’s because, just as in the journal pages that became my book, I want to be excruciatingly honest, in this case about what is stuck in my craw (an expression I borrowed from Trond because I think it’s a hoot). I want to feel free to write whatever it takes to get unstuck, so I can move forward again in confidence with what I’m here to do: inspire us to be unabashedly who we are. Here’s the rub.
What I may say for my own sake could easily offend people I care about—and who I want to care about me. I’m afraid if I post this, the rubber will meet the road of my lingering co-dependence. And, God knows, there’s a part of me that still longs to be loved above all else. Am I really willing to step on critical toes to get to the heart of this matter? It seems that I am.
Oh, dear, here’s what the matter is—and (Jim Dreaver, please note) I know it’s only a story and doesn’t matter as much as I think. But it’s a story that has continued to plague me and gotten in my way. It’s about Kripalu and me.
Over the many months since Bare Naked at the Reality Dance came out, I’ve reached back into the Kripalu Yoga community I once served and that once served me. My heartfelt intention has been to share my book and its Bapuji-inspired message of compassionate self-awareness with those who sat with me at his feet and those now following in his footsteps. But with a few notable exceptions, for which I’m extremely grateful (and may say more about in a future post), I’ve been strangely ignored by the institution that for two decades was my spiritual home. It has felt like an old-fashioned Amish shunning. I don’t know what to make of it or do about it.
I hope I am not bitter. But I am sad, disappointed and, yes, baffled. For the truth is I have felt similarly distanced at other times when I’ve approached Kripalu with offers in the years since I was actively involved. Even so, I have no reason to think Kripalu’s lack of responsiveness to me and my book is personal or even intentional, which makes it all the more bizarre.
While I left Kripalu’s fold in 1994 (right before the Guru fell and the community disbanded and regrouped), mine was a benign departure inspired by the best and worst of my experience there. After many fruitful years as a disciple, I’d watched with sadness as the selfsame man who had so well prepared me to spread my wings and fly discouraged the very independence he’d preached. When I knew my work was finished there, I said my grateful, tearful goodbyes and I left.
The path I went on to create for myself—first as a body-mind therapist and then as a spiritual life coach—was informed and infused by the Kripalu teachings I’d imbibed and taught to hundreds. But after all, I had departed the organization, removed my Kripalu Yoga teacher hat and moved on. Although I still felt deeply connected to the teachings and friends I’d made there, I soon came to realize I was no longer considered one of “us.” And even if it wasn’t personal, that hurt.
If it’s not I who am being spurned, is it my book? Not likely, thanks to encouraging feedback from readers, including Kripalu devotees who see Bapuji’s hand in the book and love it. Anyway, though I sent the book to several key staffers at The Kripalu Center, there’s been no indication to this point that anyone inside has read it. How would they know if it’s good?
There’s no question in my mind it’s good—well written, compelling and, transformational. While not for everybody, if it’s for anybody, it should be Kripalu. So the surprising lack of attention from the very people I most expected to embrace it has thrown me for a loop-de-loop.
How, dear God, will I be able to offer the kind of deep, surrendered service I was born for if my spiritual sisters and brothers, my natural allies for sharing Bapuji’s teachings, turn a blind eye? If they aren’t interested, who will be? And if I don’t have an audience with whom to share Bapuji’s powerful teachings about the value of deep self love and observation, what will I do?
Next time, I’ll tell you exactly what provoked me to risk writing about my Kripalu conundrum, and what I feel Bapuji would do about it. In the final post in what I expect to be a trilogy, I’d like to dive deep inside to explore the dysfunctional part I have almost certainly played in my rocky relationship with the place I once adored and might still—if only it would let me!
Meanwhile, dear readers, thank you for being here to listen and kibitz. Please let us know your take on my conundrum or anything else that moves you, by making a comment. And would you kindly share this link with friends who might appreciate it? Not least, if you haven’t already, consider subscribing right here, so we may both enjoy ongoing mutual support!
Categories: A Writer's Life, Surrender