I want my enlightenment damnit!- I yell from the back seat, anxious to get to our weekend retreat with my overworked sister and overachieving family friend to force ourselves to find some solace and moments of quiet bliss.
Arriving at Kripalu, you find yourself in a magical setting amidst a countryside that looks a lot like a Harry Potter movie set complete with lush, green mountains, castle-like mansions from America's golden industrial age and no visible cities within miles. Down the street from Kripalu is it's sterilized, heartless competition; Canyon Ranch. Kripalu doesn't even attempt tocompetewith luxe, Canyon Ranch, they are two completely separate entities attracting completelydifferent crowds. As you pass through the mist-bathed entrance gate at Kripalu, you get the feeling you are entering into another dimension, it's location, far removed from Boston's city energy, making it the perfect setting to get one's "mojo" back and recharge. I breathe in and notice the air tastes as pure as freshly fallen snow. Let's get en-light-ened girls! As we bust open the doors to the main lobby to register we see groups of young and graceful Yogaholics wielding yoga mats instead of Blackberries or Iphones (cellphone use is "requested"to be used away from common areas like smoking) and sporting flip flops, sweats and tanks instead of Jedi Light sabers and Obi-Wan robes.
These guiding lights to the rest of humanity that opt to medicate not with pharmaceuticals and antidepressants but instead with a healthy obsession for the ancient practice of Yoga.
Like Jedi knights gathering to sharpen their skills against the dark forces of this world, these yogic warriors of light are ready to deal with life's challenges as long as they have space to lay down their mats and time to practice and meditate. I was quickly disappointed by the lack of representation of gay men among these Yogaholic minions. I asked myself, "where are my gays?". There were plenty of lesbians representin' but about 2 gay guys (including myself) in attendance on this weekend retreat. Yoga seems to attract those that are in the process of leaving their ego's behind or at least trying to. It's a practice that causes the false ego or "id" to be left behind as you reconnect with your true inner self.
Have we been too busy "chasing papi" or proving our value to the rest of the world in showing off our fashion sense, intellectual prowess, cultural contributions, etc. that we forgot to work on our "insides"? I dare say that gay men in this country are fundamentally lacking in the area of spiritual growth and are generations behind the heteros. I dont blame them, for every organized religion on the planet (except for Buddhism) has not only rejected but spewed hatred against us, spawning generations of minions to attack, arrest, bully and flat out prevent us from gaining acceptance, every step of the way. Problem is, spirituality is such a sore subject for us gays that we forgot to replace religion with a good old simple connection to the divine or the "Big Queen"upstairs. We used to be the shaman-the spiritual leaders of our tribes. That all changed after organized religions took over. Guru Ganesha from Miami explains that Kundalini as well as Kabbalistic knowledge comes from a time "pre-religion", a time on this planet before any of our world religions were herding us into our nationalistic corrals. It was passed down even before Yoga was created, from high priests of Egypt and even as far back as Atlantis. Whether you believe in it's mysterious origins or not, it's power to awaken and release energy in you is undeniably felt after even the first session. I once took my 14 year old nephew to his first Kundalini Yoga session and he was left dumbfounded and confessed that he felt as if he had left his body at the end of the class. A pretty impressive thumbs-up coming from a hormonal teen, addicted to YouTube, chatting and World of Warcraft. Kundalini comes with a psychological warning label, called "kundalini syndrome" where if you are a person that has either repressed psychological trauma or some level of mental illness it will quickly be released and cause problems if not properly led by an experienced teacher. Kundalini is basically the fastest way to awaken our internal fire and universal power. It was never meant to be revealed to the masses until one real maverick-y Guru; Yogi Bhajan decided to channel his inner Madonna, break all the rules and share it with the masses beginning in 1969. It was a sacred knowledge reserved for the spiritual elite, warriors and leaders.
I came to this oasis on mother Earth to recharge and release all the icky negative vibes of being yet another victim of corporate downsizing after 14 years of uber dedicated corporate soldier-ness. I came to regain my own natural and vibrant "flow". This weekend was being hosted by one of the sweetest voices I've ever heard this side of Mars, my personal idol, Snatam Kaur. I've heard her music played many times at the Standard on my regular Kundalini Yoga friday nights, one of the best ways to end the week in Miami.
Snatam soon taught us that chanting is just as important as Yoga in that it rises the "prana" or life force in our bodies. The chanting combined with the repetitive movements and breathwork of Kundalini eventually caused reality to melt away and my vision to become filled with hundreds of golden bees in a hive rubbing our wings to the same beat...I became a bee in this hive nestled in the Berkshire mountains west of Boston and our Queen Bee was Snatam Kaur.
Fast forward, weeks later to the frenetic modern day city of Miami and I am sitting with electrical sensors glued to my head for a brain training session using biofeedback to improve my cognitive ability and help with my constant migraines stemming from my a previous auto accident that caused a concussion.
"Transforming Problems Into Happiness"
You can have sex with the most beautiful men or women on the planet and collect so many notches on your bedpost that you'll need a new bed. Still, like chinese food, you'll soon feel unsatisfied and empty inside. You can travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to learn from Buddhist monks nestled in their mountain hideaways to find out that all what they know is for you to find your answers and your highest truth-all you have to do is quiet your mind and listen-its all there inside each and every one of us if we can only shut out the millions of thoughts and needs and concerns and just sit and "be" for a moment, all the answers we need will come to us. Some of us have forests of "weeds" to clear through but eventually you do get there and once you do you can only do one thing-be true to yourself and finally befriend yourself and true to your life's purpose.
Growth stops, evolution stops when you stop trying to improve your heart." The Dalai Lama