Kripalu Guest Stories: Kathy Beal
Three years ago, I was driving out to Kripalu from the Boston area for Amy Weintraub’s three-day workshop, LifeForce Yoga®. As a single mom of three with a busy full-time job as communications director for a health care nonprofit, I really needed a break from my hectic schedule—who wouldn’t? But I’d taken a risk and signed up for a shared room and would be assigned a roommate. I was nervous. What if we had different schedules? What if she didn’t like me?
I walked in and saw this happy, welcoming face—and let out a huge sigh of relief. Jeanette and I just clicked instantly. She’s a yoga teacher and an aspiring herbalist, and had been to Kripalu eight or nine times. I’d done a little yoga in my teens—classes taught on vinyl records, if you can even believe that—but had felt compelled to get back into it about five years ago after the sudden death of my brother. This was only my second trip to Kripalu. Even though on paper we were fairly different in terms of our level of yoga practice, we found we were at similar stages in our lives—she’s 52 and I’m about to turn 50—with shared struggles and life questions.
Jeanette was also there for Amy’s workshop, and even though our program schedules aligned, we felt free to be independent, too. One of the great things about Kripalu is that you’re encouraged to listen to yourself and do what you need at that moment. There would be days when I’d sleep in and Jeanette would get up and go to the early yoga class, and other times when one of us would need privacy so we’d go to the beautiful Sun Room to read or nap.
Recently, Jeanette and I both experienced the deaths of our fathers, so we scheduled a four-day R&R retreat together to get away, grieve our losses, and maybe start to heal. The trip was a real turning point for me. It was wonderful to be able to share such an emotional and meaningful process with a friend who could understand on so many levels. We didn’t have to tell each other our histories or explain anything; we could talk or be quiet, laugh or cry, eat healthful brownies. Coincidentally, there was a workshop on grief, loss, and healing, which gave us a lot of the tools we needed to talk about what we’d been through. With Jeanette’s help, I was able to look inside myself and start to figure out what I needed to feel whole, and I think I was able to do the same for her, too.
When I got home, my children and friends remarked that I looked and seemed better. My light was starting to shine again after the loss of my dad, they said, and that’s exactly how I felt. I couldn’t help but think: What an unexpected gift my assigned roomie has been. When you’re willing to take a risk—stick your toe in the water—and go to someplace like Kripalu by yourself, you just might be rewarded with something, and someone, wonderful.
—Kathy Beal, Boston, Massachusetts