check out the kripalu blog
    
Join the conver–
sation at Thrive, the Kripalu blog, and check out posts on yoga, nutrition, Ayurveda, conscious living, and more—and share your photos, poems, and digital art in the Creativity Corner.
outside our walls:
debbie cohen
    
When Kripalu Yoga teacher Debbie Cohen goes into Boston’s inner-city schools, she isn’t just teaching kids good posture and how to breathe properly. What Debbie cares about most is teaching them how to have fun and relax.

Read about Debbie’s work in inner-city classrooms.

jammin’ with the fam
    
Folk-rock sister-duo Nerissa and Katryna Nields swing by Kripalu next month to host a harmonious music-making experience for the whole family. Designed for parents and children ages 5 and older, the workshop includes instrument making, songwriting, and singing together—plus a Fourth of July outing to Tanglewood (just down the road) for a James Taylor concert and fireworks.

All Together Singing: Creative Ways to Make and Listen to Music with Your Family, July 3–6.

guest words
    
Leaving Kripalu is both sad and uplifting; everyone—staff as well as visitors—is so joyful and helpful. A great spirit resides here.
—Elaine A., retired teacher, Watertown, Connecticut
turning point:
q&a with julie sorichetti
    
Yoga Ed.™ teacher Julie Sorichetti is dedicated to bringing the tools of yoga to schools and learning communities—a mission that was catalyzed by her experience working in a group home for children and youth.

Read the interview.

did you know?
    
Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living is developing a curriculum of meditation, yoga, and pranayama designed to build resilience to trauma among front-line providers, including doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and other health-care providers.

Support Kripalu initiatives like this
www.kripalu.org/makeagift

cycle of transformation,
by danna faulds
    
I didn’t think much about the distant rumble of thunder as I biked along a favorite unpaved rail trail. It was a hot day, and I figured that, if it rained, it would cool things down a bit. There were small, roofed picnic shelters every couple of miles where I could wait out a thunderstorm and then continue on my way, a bit mud-spattered from the puddles on the trail perhaps, but none the worse for wear. And even if I did get a little wet, my clothes would dry quickly in the sun.

Read more.

yoga break: grounding flow
    
In this yoga break of gentle movements and twists, Kripalu Yoga teacher Coby Kozlowski invites you to let go and melt into the earth, surrender to the moment, and just be.

Get grounded.

healthy living recipes
    
Summertime, and the cooking is easy (and delicious). This month, Executive Chef Deb Morgan offers recipes for a rice salad packed with veggies that can be served hot or cold, and an Asian-spiced baked tofu, flavored with mirin, ginger, basil, and dill—it’s also great cooked on the grill!

June Healthy Living Recipes
Natalie’s Rice Salad
Ross’ Savory Baked Tofu

desktop wallpaper
Enjoy the beauty of the Berkshires every day with Kripalu’s desktop wallpaper. Available with and without a calendar.

Easy to download.

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Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to teach the art and science of yoga to produce thriving and health in individuals and society.

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welcome
Summer is just around the corner, and the possibilities are endless! Where are some of your top destinations to visit this season? Exploring your inner landscape through writing, as this month's excerpted Q&A with Natalie Goldberg shows, can be as fascinating a journey as, say, a trip to the Grand Canyon. Some tasty recipes to brighten your palate and a breezy essay on the unexpected pleasures of a rainy bike ride, among our other offerings, help turn the direction of this Compass toward the warmer days ahead.
zen and the art of writing:
a q&a with natalie goldberg
an excerpt from Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

After more than 20 years, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones remains the definitive guidebook for those who see the writing process as a journey of the soul. Goldberg broke ground with the book, first published in 2005, when she compared writing with Zen meditation. In this Q&A from the 10th-anniversary edition, she explores that connection.

Q What are the “I can’t write because” excuses that you hear the most?
A People offer me thousands of excuses about why they can’t write. “I’m afraid to let myself out.” “I’m afraid to follow what I really want.” “I can’t do it now but it’s my deepest dream.” “I can’t do it now because I have a family.” “I have to make a living.” “I’m scared that I’m not good enough.” “I’m afraid my father will kill me if I write about him.” I don’t pay attention at that level. All I see is that they are using some excuse, that they want something and they are not stepping forward and taking hold of it. Over the years what I’ve watched is that people don’t let themselves burn. They don’t let their passion be alive and then feed it. But I don’t listen to their excuses. After a while it’s boring. Just like my complaining is boring. It’s monkey mind. It doesn’t really matter what the excuse is … I think it’s the human predicament. We give a lot of names to our excuses, to the reasons we don’t want to write or are afraid to. Finally, if you want to write, you have to just shut up, pick up a pen, and do it. I’m sorry, there are no excuses. This is your life. Step forward. Maybe it’s only for ten minutes. That’s okay. To write feels better than all the excuses.

Q What is the monkey mind?
A Monkey mind is actually a Buddhist term. We could also call monkey mind the editor or the critic. Something that creates busyness to keep us away from our true heart. Our whole culture is built on busyness. And that’s why we’re so unhappy. But we love busyness. We have to understand it. There’s busyness, there’s monkey mind, and then there’s our true heart. What does our true heart want? We have to give it at least 50 percent. Otherwise we fill our whole life with busyness. I have to do this. I’m going here. I’m making that. Daily life is very seductive. Weeks go by and we forget who we are.

Q How is writing affected by Zen practice?
A Writing has always been connected with my Zen practice and with mindfulness and meditation. Art for art’s sake never interested me, because I’ve seen many unhappy artists whose egos are very much solidified. In this case, the practice of art engenders suffering. But if you know you have nothingness at your back, emptiness, you can’t crystallize as easily. For me, writing is always connected with that kind of emptiness. You can create a word because there was no word there before. There was a blank page. If everything was filled, there’d be nothing you could step into. So I guess art, creativity, without meditation practice doesn’t interest me. Zen has always been at my back.

Q What is the difference between meditation and writing practice?
A When I’m sitting, the object is to let go of thoughts and anchor my mind with my breath in the present moment. But, of course, it’s not so easy. When you sit a lot, you see that those thoughts are sticky and they keep coming back. In writing practice, you grab these thoughts and write them down, and by writing them down, you go on to the next one and you keep moving through them. You are anchoring your mind with your pen. Your thoughts become a quick stream you’re sitting in. So they’re not quite as sticky. In a sense, writing practice is a more expedient way of settling into a quiet place. I get to run through the thoughts and then let them go; where as when I sit, there’s no place to spit them out and they take a long time to digest. They just hang around, roll around in the mouth of my mind. So it’s a different process. It’s a parallel process. Writing is my deepest Zen practice.

Q How did writing practice come about?
A I discovered this relationship with my mind. I was sitting a lot of zazen in Taos when I was a hippie, and I went up to Colorado in 1976 to study with Allen Ginsberg for six weeks at Naropa Institute in Boulder. He taught the examination of thoughts and writing. And I continued it. I feel as though he was the visionary and I was the worker bee that documented it. He said, “When the mind is shapely, your writing will be shapely.“ I did a little retreat by myself before I went to Naropa, and I found an article in the retreat how that he had written in which he talks about polishing the mind. I didn’t understand all of it, but it piqued my interest, and I made a promise to myself that someday I would understand it all. Nobody I’d ever heard talked about the mind when I studied literature in college and grad school.

I started to write and time myself and keep my hand moving. I explored vast space of what was possible on the page—where my mind traveled, backward, forward, upside down. I had no goal, no product direction. I watched how I thought. I came into some kind of intimate relationship with myself. I was alone. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but it was so compelling that I went deeper and deeper into it. I noticed things: how repetitious the mind can be, how to dive below discursive thinking, how to use the details in front of me to ground myself. I didn’t call it monkey mind then, but I was meeting it. I saw that certain things helped me write and other things didn’t help me write. This timed practice gave me a structure; I wasn’t going to go crazy. Whatever came up, I kept my hand moving, and I stayed there until the time was up. Just as in meditation, whatever comes up while you’re meditating, you keep the structure of the posture until the bell rings.

Reprinted with permission from Sounds True, Inc.

Natalie Goldberg is an author, poet, teacher, and painter. She has written 11 books, including Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, which has been translated into 14 languages. With filmmaker Mary Feidt, she completed the documentary Tangled Up in Bob, about Bob Dylan’s childhood on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota. Natalie’s most recent book is Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir. www.nataliegoldberg.com

Don’t miss Natalie Goldberg and Zen meditation teacher Sean Murphy at Kripalu Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, August 24–26.

spreading the word…
Men’s Health Month
June is Men’s Health Month, with thousands of health-awareness and disease-prevention activities planned across the country. A website maintained by the Men’s Health Network offers resources, including men’s health facts and a library of health-related information, as well as ideas for participating in activities this month—like planning a mini health fair or creating an awareness fundraiser.

Visit www.menshealthmonth.org for resources and ways to get involved, and check out programs men might like at Kripalu.

Biography of a Yogi
Parahamsa Yogananda, whose Autobiography of a Yogi introduced yoga to millions, is now the subject of a new book by one of his last remaining direct disciples. Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) began studying with Parahamsa Yogananda in 1948, at age 22. His biography of his teacher includes personal anecdotes as well as stories of Yogananda’s teenage years, the obstacles he faced in coming to America, and his struggles and achievements.

Read sample chapters and reviews.

quote of the month
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
—Gandhi
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Corrections We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our information; however, errors do occasionally occur.