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Breaking up is hard to do, Part I: My Kripalu Conundrum

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Breaking up is hard to do, Part I: My Kripalu Conundrum
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“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
  • http://twitter.com/aegiscoach Sheila M. Kelly

    A cunundrum indeed, Suzanne, and I look forward to reading your bare naked trilogy. I admit to being a forgiveness junkie so it is probably no surprise that I keep hearing the word “forgiveness” in my head as I read your post. I also admit to having no idea where forgiveness fits in the Kripalu paradigm. Gerald Jampolsky describes forgiveness as “giving up all hope of a better past.” Easier said than done, I know, but it is always a magic bullet … for me.

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Thank you, dear Sheila, for your offer of forgiveness! The great healer, especially when it is directed at ourselves. I suspect that by the time we get to the third part of my “Breaking up” trilogy, I’ll find that what I need to do is forgive myself, for having expected too much and, not least, giving away my power. Your excellent Jampolsky quote reminds me I’d be wise to give up all hope, not only of a better past, but of a better future as well. Writing about this longstanding conundrum–and getting your perspective–is already helping me do that. But you’re right it ain’t easy.

  • Jody

    Hi Suzanne

    I’m wondering if the people at Kriplalu that you sent
    the book to, are just overwhelmed with work? and life
    or… just assumed your book would make it somehow out there
    in the eithers on it’s own????????…or am I just trying to find an excuse
    for oversight.  Sorry it has been such a frustrating
    experience, but my experience of Kripalu center is that
    they probably need a staff member to care for issues
    that are close to Kripalu but happening in the greater world
    so that people like you have a vein with which you can flow
    into the heart of the community…and I’m sure they cannot
    afford to hire such a person.    I too have been involved
    for 30 years but do not feel particularly connected to the
    main centre because their focus has been on their own survival
    for a long time.  Vandita was a great liason for me, but she is
    no longer head of KYTA.  I think you need a special liason person at
    the centre who has ready and liked your book and who can speak up
    for you…     love Jody

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Very perceptive, Jody! I will address your thoughtful points in my second “Breaking up” post. But for now, this: people everywhere are overwhelmed with work (and so much else!), which is part of my larger point, coming right up (well, okay, over the next several weeks). My Kripalu conundrum is simply a dramatic case in point. Something vital is being lost in the process of a speeded-up, revved-up world — human decency, respect…love. Your perspective of not feeling “particularly connected” to Kripalu is helpful since, after all, you are training hundreds of teachers in the Kripalu style and deserve their full attention. If they don’t have time for you, they sure don’t have time for me!

      I get more specific next time, but I don’t mean to blame anyone in particular. Rather, I am trying with all my mind and heart to understand the new world in which we live and how I, one woman with what feels like an urgent message to share, can make the difference I know I am here to make. That it has felt so hard to break through, even where the ground *should* be fertile, is the real conundrum. More to come next post.

  • Marian

    Go on, brave woman, write on… love marian

    • Suzanne Grenager

      From one brave woman to another, thank you, sweet Marian. Your support means a lot to me!

  • Gord

       Life is like a stairway — a series of steps and landings until you reach the top (if anyone ever actually does so).  You can either climb up or fall down (we haven’t yet learned to fly). While you are climbing you have to be aware of the preceding step(s) in order to know where you are at.  e.g. the last step was 6 so you know that you are on step 7. Obsessive / Compulsives are a good example of this in that they always count each step as they proceed.
       When you reach a new landing (a new level of enlightenment) you can (and will) forget the past steps as they no longer serve to define where you are at. Rest and regroup in preparation for the next ascent.
       If you are still attached to a previous step or landing then you MUST still have at least one more step to take to reach the next landing (level).
       I was amazed to read about how much of your life that you have lived rather than just watching it pass by. Take that next last step (if you haven’t already) to reach your next level of enlightenment.  It is there in your heart, only you know what it is, but it has to be taken. I sense that it is more than simply letting go.  You MUST be in the moment, for it is all that there is.

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Gord, I am touched by your long, thoughtful response to this post, especially since I am not sure who you are and how you found me. I gather from your comment about how I have lived my life that you must have read my book or excerpts on the site. I especially appreciate your observation that I’ve been in the thick of life, rather than standing by as a mere observer (though some would say the “witness” state might be the preferred M.O. :). And your wise counsel to be in the elusive but  every-present (ha!) moment is exactly what I need to hear. I, too, sense that there is more for me to *do* than surrender, but perhaps only in the act of a fuller surrender will I be able to discover that critical next step. I welcome further thoughts on your part, right here on the site. Many thanks again for showing up to offer your insights. 

  • Eliana Baccas

    Kripalu is NOTHING like it was in the “good old days” when you and I were hanging out in our devotional ways. When I’ve gone there in recent years, I see no real resemblance to “what was”.  Perhaps the gift here is truly finding your voice, especially when the anticipated support is not forthcoming.  I cheer you on from afar!  Love from Eliana

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Wow, Eliana. What an interesting and helpful perspective! Not that I want to make Kripalu wrong or less than it was; I send people there to this day and I rarely get other than positive feedback. But the we’re-all-in-the-soup-together “devotional ways” — and days – (such cute words *we* use) do seem to have gone the way of the guru. And yes, YES, to your beautiful affirmation that the real gift — not only of being ignored by Kripalu, but of having written the book and standing by it no matter what — is to have found and dared to fully express the bare naked voice that is mine. Bless you, dear sister, for cheering me on! 

  • Jamie

    You question being able to offer the service you were born for, if they turn a blind eye, and that if they aren’t interested, who will be. To me, your service is for those who have not yet been exposed to what you have to share. The members of the community have been there, done that. I believe that you are called to speak to those who have not. Be not discouraged by there lack of response. Listen to those who are responding to your words!

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Wow, Jamie. Your guidance is right on, especially the last sentence.  I am coming to see I pay far too much attention to those who don’t respond and not nearly enough to the incredibly heartening responses I have had from the likes of you and others new to the spiritual path. I am listening to your very encouraging words. Thank you!

  • Kimberly

    Your blog is very good, the comments were so
    amazing – deep and caring – how I hope to be! I think you had Kripalu “expectations”. I
    agree that you need a liaison there if you want to continue to pursue it. Keep working at it, do a few things every day that bring you closer to your goal.  Love to you…

     

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Bless you for weighing in, dear Kimberly, and I agree with you that the comments are amazing in their depth and caring. I have felt so supported these last few days that I find I’m being kinder and gentler toward myself – as if you, my wonderful readers’ compassion is rubbing off on me. Thank you ALL for taking the time to express your insights and generosity of spirit!

  • http://jimdreaver.com/ Jim

    Wonderful, honest, and self-revealing blog – as always, Suzanne!

    Jim Dreaver

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Huge, heartfelt thanks for your generous words, dear Jim. Your support as a fellow spiritual writer continues to nourish me. God bless!

  • Angela

    Suzanne, your words always arrive at the perfect time. Your honesty and ability to eloquently communicate inspire me! 
    I was recently reflecting on the idea that I am wanting love and acknowledgement from an old, formerly reliable source and it is not going to come. The words of a Sheryl Crow song keep going through my head, “It’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve got.” It occurs to me that there’s a whole lotta love and acknowledgement coming my way from lots of other sources, if only I could focus on those. 
    I have not figured it out yet, but getting my butt on my yoga mat is definitely part of the process. And, reading your blog, knowing that someone with your widsom and experience feels this way too sometimes, is so helpful and such a great example. 
    Know that even if the Kripalu community is not delivering a response, your words are definitely at work and lovingly embraced in this community. 

    • Suzanne Grenager

      God bless you, darlin’! You made my day with your most encouraging words – food for my soul are they. Being a raw, real and fully exposed   *human* example for wonderful women (and men) like you is precisely what I mean to offer. It is an honor to inspire you and I am delighted to hear that butt-on-the-mat is part of your process. Yoga changed my life, though now it’s you who inspire me – to get back down there more often.
       
      I love the Sheryl Crow words and your take on them. Seems we both will do well to let go of our “old reliable sources” and refocus. I, too, have a ton of love showering upon me, from far more “reliable” sources, like you.:) So for me — for us – to focus on what we’re not getting is a damned shame. Bless you again for your “loving embrace.” I am so glad you are part of my life.

  • Vicki Fox

    I always admire your willingness to bare all and express feelings that we all harbor, but we are often too proud to share.  It sure does hurt when those we think have our back and will support us are not there as we wish.  I know you are a devotee of Byron Katie, and with regard to your “story”, wouldn’t she ask is it true?  It’s most often not about us.  Lots of good suggestions in the other comments.  I can’t wait to read the two other posts in your trilogy.  Write on!

    • Suzanne Grenager

      Yay, Vicki! I appreciate your thoughtful reminder about Katie and her brilliant questions. I suspect by the time we get to the end of my little saga, we will have a better idea of what is and isn’t true. I agree it’s most likely not “about me.” But the experience I plan to describe in my next post raises larger questions about all of us and the importance of common decency and respect and, as I’ve said in my reply to another comment here, *love* itself. Who and how are we being with each other? Meanwhile, as always, I am hugely grateful that you have my back (to use your phrase) and that, just like me, you are willing to acknowledge having feelings “we are often too proud to share.” Thank you so much for joining me there — and here. 

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