Two summers ago I went to this yoga and meditation retreat center called Kripalu. I was searching for relief from my depression. Six months prior I had stopped taking my medication with help and a plan from my doctor. The first psychiatrist (of MANY) that had actually agreed that medication might not be a life long thing for me and I could try other things like exercise and meditation to help ease my pain. But my plan soon started failing me because it is very hard to implement a plan when you can’t get out of bed. I was starting to feel very desperate and scared so I plunked down most of my savings to go on a weeklong retreat to figure my shit out. Maybe raise my vibrations or ding some dongs or dong some bongs. Whatever they do at a place like that. I signed up for a “beginner’s meditation” course for the first 5 days I would be there and a “yoga for depression” course for the weekend. I really felt it was meant to be because the woman that was teaching the Yoga for Depression course wrote a book by the same name that had crossed my path many times over the years whenever I was at a bookstore or a library.
I arrived in Stockbridge, Massachusetts after an 8-hour drive from Cleveland. I smiled (or pursed my lips together really hard, not sure!) and thought, “Alright, this is it. I hope this helps me. It has to help me” as I pulled up to the giant building, a former Jesuit monastery, surrounded by a lot of beautiful nature and stuff that is suppose to take your breath away, I think.
On my drive there I was listening to a book on CD by Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob). One of the things he said in the book (totally paraphrasing from memory, by the way) is “Whenever you feel down on yourself, just remember you came from cum in your dad’s balls. Of all the billions of sperm, you made it. That’s all you needed to do in this life. You did it. You won.” I swear, I almost turned the car around because that was all I needed to hear. I didn’t need to spend thousands of dollars and drive hours across the country. I just needed someone to tell me I used to be a glop of cum. Goddamnit. It was too late for a refund and I was already here.
I hated it from the beginning. I wanted to like it SO bad. My bank account wanted me to like it even more. I hated that everyone was a middle aged white woman with mala beads in one hand and a diamond ring on the other. I hated that everyone whispered. I hated that everyone was thin. I hated the polite smiles that looked like everyone had watched too much America’s Next Top Model and this was their time to practice their “smize” out in public. I hated the gift shop that sold really expensive spiritually themed shit like this was goddamn Disney World. I hated that there was no sugar or caffeine to be found anywhere but dear fucking god was there an endless supply of quinoa. I hate that they dared put quinoa in their versions of “desserts”. I hated the woman who gave me an Aryurvedic medicine consultation who told me I had to rise before the sun everyday and chant something in another language– that she couldn’t even tell me what it translated to because “that wasn’t the point”, she said– and that I had to put ghee (aka BUTTER) in my eyes if I wanted to cure my depression. I hated when I complained to the manager on staff that it was all bullshit that she only gave me a 50% refund. I hated that no one wanted to sneak out and get shit faced in the nearest town and order pizza with me so we could pretend we were escaping prison (not that I asked, it was just a fantasy). I hated how much money I imagined this place raking in and what a scam it all was.
The buzzword I was hearing all around me was “non-attachment”. My meditation teacher even joked that the biggest insult you could say to someone at this center would be “You seemed really attached to <your job, your phone, that idea, your ego, your judgments, etc>”. Everyone seemed to be seeking non-attachment to the physical world. To be attached was akin to weakness almost. On our last day of class I finally spoke after being silent almost all week (which if you know me, it’s kind of hard to believe but I get shy in groups without alcohol involved) and I said to everyone “I feel like I am looking for the opposite of what everyone else is talking about here. My depression is so deep, I would give anything to be attached to something. I feel like I could walk away from anything in life I feel so disconnected.” (at least I think that’s what I said, I could have just been wailing and blowing my nose.)
The next round of classes was the yoga for depression series, which I was looking forward to the most. Unfortunately it ending up giving me panic attacks from all the deep breath work (“yoga nidra” stuff which I had never heard of before) so I walked out in the middle of class because I thought my skull was going to cave in. The teachers assistant followed me out of the class to see if I was okay. When I told her what was happening in my body she said that yoga nidra exercises can cause those symptoms in people with sexual trauma. SO OKAY. Why didn’t you fucking put a disclaimer on this class before I signed up, dingbats? I never returned to finish the class.
But what really pushed me over the edge was listening to a laughing yoga class take place outside my dorm room window. I never heard anything so infuriating as a group of grown-ass adults forcing themselves to laugh. So I packed my bags and left in the middle of the night. I stopped to buy a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of Coke, a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips and a Snickers bar (those are my go-to comfort items when I feel out of control). I stole a lighter from the gas station just for a cheap thrill because WHY NOT.
I’m still trying to figure out what I got out of that place. I feel like every time I try to do something in a group, something goes awry and that Groucho Marx quote “I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member” plays over and over in my head like a taunting song of defeat.
I don’t know why I can’t except that I am a chubby little pizza roll that loves the darker side of life and wants to spray paint dicks on the side of buildings and revel in anger and A1 sauce. That should be good enough!! Why do I keep trying to force this spirituality and a “clean” lifestyle on myself when I so clearly reject it on a visceral level? I mean I can’t even do wheat grass shots or take spirulina without immediately vomiting. That’s how much my body rejects that shit.
I don’t know why I can’t except that my greatest gifts come from my ability to question everything and not follow the crowd. I have never been able to be apart of anything in life (from a very young age) without riling shit up. I have never been able to keep my mouth shut and just accept and live and let go. I have a hyper awareness and a inborn moral compass that has left to me reject my Catholic upbringing when I was just a kid. I became a vegetarian at 10. I argued with priests at my school about homosexuality at 13, preached about the amazingness of masturbation at 12. Yet at 35 I still think I can be apart of things without seeing the bullshit and being disappointed in humanity AGAIN? I feel like this may sound very immature on my behalf. I haven’t found a way to work within the system and I don’t think I ever will.
Before you think I’m the biggest asshole in the world, these are the things I did like:
-the peanut butter and jam (NOT JELLY) sandwiches and chai tea with almond milk I would cling to everyday in order to recreate some kind of sweet treat to soothe my anger.
-my roommate with the breast implants who looked like Cher and bitched about men.
-the lady in my meditation class that never took off her Chanel sunglasses (like she was recovering from partying the night before everyday, like SHE was the one that figured out where the local bar/pizza place was and didn’t invite me to sneak out with her!!) and wore cut off jean shorts and would power walk around the room when we were suppose to do slow walking meditation.
-watching some kids from this yoga circus camp do a performance that made me cry (because children sometimes bring me joy, OK??)
-dancing down a soul train style line with a stranger awkwardly after the circus camp performance
-going into the sauna room naked because i’ve always wanted to be carefree naked around a group of people like LOOK I DON’T GIVE A FUCK OKAY??
-having lunch with a group of women much older than me after the last meditation class, hearing their one-on-one stories and their sense of humor (FINALLY) about sexuality and connection to other women which solidified in my mind that everyone is gay. That made me happy and feel connected for a little bit.
-My oddest experience: Sitting in the hallway outside of my room, sneaking a late night whispered phone call and looking up to see a naked man walk past me, his penis whoosh by me just two feet from my nose! Then sneaking down the hallway and seeing two more naked men walk down another hall! I never figured out what exactly was happening, I wish I would have followed them because it delighted me so much to see. I really hope it was some freaky ass Eyes Wide Shut stuff. God I can only imagine the debauchery!! That was a little gift from the universe.
that is all. i sometimes don’t know how to end this. bye.
P.S. After re-reading this blog a few times I kind of think all my reactions were just one big long withdrawal from sugar. who know.