I am back at one of my favorite retreats. Well, I guess at this point, it is my Favorite, back East anyway. Forget the “one of” part. Kripalu. It is a yoga retreat in the Berkshires, a short drive from Lenox, Mass. It is a former monastery that has been turned into a school for Yogis and Aruyrvedic practitioners. It is also a place for visitors looking for wellness programs, or just a little R&R. You can practice yoga here three times a day, and do this wonderful moving form they call Yoga Dance. The yoga dance is very tribal, very primal, sweat-inducing, and LOTS of fun.

I arrived after a four-hour bus drive, sat next to a cool woman who commuted back and forth between her apartment outside of Boston and the Vermont woods where she lived with the boyfriend she met on You-Tube. When you leave the highly caffeinated world of Manhattan and land anywhere bucolic, it takes awhile to adapt to the deafening din of silence. Crickets in NYC mean no one has come to your nightclub. The smells, the views, the sounds of silence can be intimidating. I walked around, made myself at home in my spartan room (happy to see that the unknown roommate with whom I was to share the room had not arrived yet). A gentle yoga class, a delicious vegetarian dinner, some quiet time in the sun room until three 20-somethings came in to gab. Even then, I wasn’t in the mindset to be the librarian and “shhhhhush” them. I just went to my little room and fell asleep.

There’s the setup. Now to the whirlies. A couple of times during the night, I dreamed I was dizzy. When I woke up — with a start — at dawn. It hit me: I had the whirlies. My old “frenemy” Vertigo had paid me a visit in the night. I have had vertigo through the years, but not in a long time. It stops you cold. Mine is the kind caused by some minute particle (I call them seeds or sand) getting lodged in my ear canal. I wobbled from my room to the bathroom, walking like a drunken person, holding onto the wall for balance. When I returned to my room, I did three things First, those heinous exercises to rid yourself of V by sitting, flinging yourself to and fro, thrusting yourself into the whirlies. It is supposed to dislodge the seed of discontent. It actually works if you can tolerate it, because at the same time think about it — what comes with the whirlies? Her buddy nausea. I shan’t linger on that portion of this narrative — this is (and will shortly get there) a food and diet blog, after all. Secondly, I prayed. Well, let’s be honest, I demanded that Archangel Raphael — the healing angel- move the seed(s) right out of my ear canal. And should s/he choose to ignore me then I’m just not sure I believe in angels anymore. Thirdly, I slept.

Welcome to Kripalu. On one of my trips to the loo, I was helped by the guest staying across the way from me: her name was Teresa. She was Colombian, I think. She gently escorted me back to my room, asking if there was anything she could do. Very sweet. No, thank you so very much, I am hoping to sleep it off. I dozed off , fitfully as they say, and when I awoke, I bitched at Archangel Raphael again, move this damn seed! At that very moment, I heard a soft knock on my door. It was someone from Kripalu, his name was Jim. I guess Teresa had told someone at the front desk about me, and he wanted to make sure I was okay. Is there anything I can do, he asked? I wanted peppermint tea. I also said I was concerned that the roommate would show up to this sick room, and it would be unpleasant for both of us. He brought the best cup of tea I have ever drunk in my life with the assurance that the roommate thing was fixed.

Thank you, angels.

Now, to Janet Eats. I came here hoping to refresh my commitment to eating healthfully, had even met with this beautiful nutritionist here, name of Annie Kay. She’s written a book “Every Bite is Divine”. She talked me off the ledge, reinforced positive thinking about the importance of balance versus the weight of/on the Scale. She’d tasked me with journalling. When faced with setbacks: what works and what doesn’t work. The whirlies visited me before I could really start that process, but I had begun thinking about it anyway. How do we let go of self-judgment and turn it around to self-care. You need to do more than be in a state of recovery all the time, she explained. Getting back to basics is good, but go beyond that. Take fabulous care of yourself!

The Vertigo, in an odd way, was the start of that. It broke me down to basics. I couldn’t eat, I didn’t want to eat. So, when I started to bring some food, energy and fuel, back into my life, I really had no choice but to eat slowly. Mindfully. Carefully, even. What do I need right now, I asked myself, as I walked down the buffet line. What will nourish me? Chew completely. Drink gently. It was like I was a baby, introduced to food for the very first time. I watched the children in the dining room, going down the line and picking what they wanted to eat very carefully. I was inspired by that intent.

I guess, I have the whirlies to thank for that.

P.S. Wouldn’t recommend it. Just sayin’