Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Places: the "Ashram"

Yesterday I spent my annual day at Kripalu, a former ashram which has recently become a crossover between an ashram and a spa. The atmosphere has changed: from a gathering of spiritual minded people practicing meditation and yoga to a more mainstream yet progressive and liberal crowd, focused on fitness, healthy lifestyle and often, life changes. Prices have doubled and the food from strictly vegetarian now includes some meat. Yet the wonderful atmosphere of compassion, tolerance and open-mindness still remains.
The first time I went there, in 2002, I was mainly looking to spend a day practicing yoga and meditation, escaping from my stressful daily routine. And I left energized, with a sense of peacefulness and hope.
On the stairwell there are photographs of Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and even Einstein. The building is ugly (a former high school), lacking proportions and a relationship with the beautiful natural surroundings ---a lake in the rolling hills of the Berkshires. The dining room is quite unattractive too, but the food extremely tasty and healthy, based on organic ingredients and flavored by many different spices. Kindness, simplicity and quiet are omnipresent. People smile at each other, talking softly; when they don't participate to the many different activities ---yoga, dance, workshops, snowshoeing, hiking --- they read or meditate. A positive energy and calm take place and remains for a few days even after I return to the non-sense and madness of NYC
Every time I go there I think: can we make the world a better place? Yes, we can!