By Trish Reyburn
My sister agreed to join me the first time I visited the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. I cried the whole ride up in the car from Connecticut because I was completely and utterly miserable in my life. I was 25 and had no idea what type of career I wanted and I felt terrible about it.
By the end of that trip to the Berkshires, two amazing things had happened!
First, I knew beyond a doubt that teaching yoga was what I most wanted to do with my life!! It came as a strong desire that rose up from my inner most core. I had a calling and I so wanted to heed it.
The other thing that piqued my interest that weekend were the barbaric screams I heard coming from the second floor.
I was enraptured by the wild sounds coming from behind closed doors, different from any I had heard before. It sounded like complete abandon with the permission to do so. I knew right away that I wanted to do that, too;- I wanted to have that experience.
Three years later, I found the courage to take the course.
If I wrote a testimonial for Kripalu’s Inner Quest Intensive program all those years ago, it would have said, “Came for the barbaric screams and left with so much more!” The program’s name did not disappoint.
The female participants slept together on the floor of the program room and the men slept in another chapel in the building. During the five days of the program, all the clocks in the building were covered with cloths because part of the retreat was removing time. We were asked to just be present with whatever they were presenting. Our meals were also held with only our group present, in silence. Before we ate, however, we would recite the following affirmation which I used for many years to follow:-
Affirmation to My Body: I recognize you are the temple in which my spirit and creative energy dwell. I have created you from my need to have my spirit manifest on earth so I may have this time to learn and grow. I offer this food to you so you may continue to sustain my creative energy, my spirit, my soul – I offer this food to you with love and a sincere desire for you to remain free from disease and disharmony. I need you. I love you.
So much happened in those five days. In one session, two other participants took on the role of my parents and I was invited to say anything and everything that I’ve ever wanted to say to them. That was helpful.
On another afternoon we came back from lunch to find the whole altar covered with stuffed animals. Immediately, I saw the ones I wanted – two monkeys hugging with their Velcro hands attached behind each other’s backs. It was a favorite of mine when I was younger. I would act out the monkeys kissing each other and being all in love. Someone else got the monkeys before me, but I embraced another memory from childhood and grabbed a white dog with black floppy black ears that I hung out with during the afternoon talk.
With no time and no social conversations going on during the course of the five days, I just kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the barbaric screaming to begin. It was why I had decided to attend this workshop and I was ready to let it rip!
When the time arrived, I was partnered with a young woman in her late teens. We were given the instruction that one partner would witness while the other would allow any feelings of ferocity, rage, and anger to arise and release through sound. I was so excited to finally be in this place, doing the very thing I knew I had needed for years. But, very soon into the exercise my young partner expressed that everyone else’s screaming was freaking her out. And it was obvious that she was freaking out — literally, freaking out.
So this was my dilemma:- Do I let the freaked-out girl get a little more freaked by going ballistic on her and really releasing all my pent-up emotions? Or do I release my needs in a way that honors the needs of someone else? I went with the latter. Yes, I was SO frustrated to miss the opportunity I had been waiting for, but I also knew it would be downright cruel to scream in the frightened girl’s face.
Because of my good deed, I was given a boon. Our instructor announced that we would leave our partners and join the whole group, where we could continue to release our LOUD emotions!! This is what I had wanted all along, to be anonymous in a giant group of people, moaning and screaming and generally releasing all the things that were no longer serving me, i.e., the past.
I yelled and screamed and hollered and moaned until my throat was sore and I was totally satisfied. It was delicious, cathartic and oh, so very healing on many levels.