Defending Earth is Self Defense

We will realize protecting Mother Earth is self defense.

Yoga, or the realization that the self exists as an inseparable part of the whole and our meaningful existence is found by serving the whole, is the first step to overcoming the obstacles in battling climate chaos and eradicating humanity’s egocentric thinking that Earth and all its creatures and resources exist solely for human use.

Destruction of the environment and our stable climate is a direct result of the mistaken thinking that humans are on top with the rights to use, abuse, manipulate, and destroy as they like.

Malcolm X said, “I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self defense; I call it intelligence.” At what point will standing in the sidelines be more violent than resisting the destruction of the planet and its ability to provide for future generations?

Excerpt is from a highly recommended read titled Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth:

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Is Yoga at its Roots Anti-Civ?

I read a great essay by Terra Greenbrier, titled, “Against Civilization For Reconnection to Life!” This essay confronts our attachments to the norms and why we need to break free from the current status quo in order to realize our true nature, which is connection to nature and each other. Science has started to prove that social relationships are just as crucial to health and longevity as exercise. We don’t need to wait for science to catch up to realize the importance of our connection to all of life and to Earth. Here are the highlights from the essay:

“School, work, media, science, medicine, religious institutions, the nation-state and its military, political systems, economies, concepts like Progress, patriarchy, domestication, reason, morality, and politics are institutions that separate us from directly experiencing the diversity and inter-relatedness of the living world. Living within the circle of life, as an integral part of a whole organism, forms a basis for our relationships with other humans.”

How can we free ourselves from our dependence on civilization and all of its destructive distractions from our True Nature?

1: create or participate in catalyzing situations

2: inspire people to question human-centered, control-oriented culture

3: move towards decentralized, anarcho-communist, worker-controlled, ecologically harmonious, classless, international networks of syndicates/affiliations

4: figure out which seeds to scatter that will sprout from the compost of current society and then scatter those seeds. For example, teach people how to grow their own food, compost, mend clothing, fermentation as food preservation, etc.

5: confront the subtle, psychic logic of Civilization within ourselves and reclaim our Self from the false self that we were taught to create and project into the world

6: share, cooperate

7: earthen-building

8: DIY, permaculture, edible landscaping

Yoga teaches us that we are either living in yoga, a spiritual connection, or bhoga, enjoyment of the senses. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna warns that the more we indulge in the senses the further entangled we become with maya, or the material. This inevitably always ends in misery because all material enjoyments are temporary and it hurts when we get separated from our attachments. If we find fulfillment in yoga, or this spiritual connection to the Supreme, which is infinite and unchanging, we find eternal contentment. The Srimad Bhagavatam asks us to turn away from all of maya’s distractions such as movies, politics, even friendships that aren’t based on spiritual connection, so that we might find meditation, which is defined in the Srimad Bhagavatam as an unbroken stream of one thought on the Supreme.

To solve our problems we must turn towards the divine, and with realization that all living entities and the Earth are marginal energies of the divine, then each act of preserving, respecting, connecting with life, becomes a devotional act that liberates us from climate chaos, from the binds of society and civilization, and ultimately from the Maya and its inevitable miseries.

Eco Karma Yoga and Prepping

My partner and I went around the neighborhood and sowed some seeds into the planters. I’ve always been inspired by guerrilla gardening. Look up Ron Finley’s Gangsta Garden project to feel inspired yourself! He even has a TED talk about it.

As we exist on the tipping point of destruction or saving our planet, each act as small as a seed being planted could make a big difference! How will we survive if things do collapse? By adapting, figuring out ways to DIY, growing edible landscapes and then knowing how to cook what was grown from scratch, networking into smaller communities, prevention of diseases through self care practices, etc. Collapse really could happen any time, a peculiar piece of evidence that I caught was a commercial on TV for 15 year supplies for a family of prepackaged meals in case of an emergency.

To be responsible is to be prepared. To be prepared through the various mentioned ways would undoubtedly soften human’s load on the planet anyways and thereby reduce whatever consequences we would face if we didn’t start preparing now.

This week we move into Spring, so it is time to practice growing some edible plants, especially those of you who think you can’t!!! Herbs are a good place to start. Lay some seeds down, connect to your community, bicycle instead of drive, and know that this is all part of our ahimsa practice towards the Earth and all of its current and future inhabitants. This is our karma yoga, to selflessly serve the earth and al it’s people, plants, animals, and insects, even when it’s not the most convenient for your self.

PS. If you’re in Milwaukee, you can come to Eco Yoga Sunday’s at 10AM and know that 20% of total proceeds from your asana practice is donated to organizations that keep rainforests intact!

Ahimsa Pumpkin Pie

I decided to go vegan this past May after a lot of internal struggle about letting go of my attachments to dairy and eggs. In the end, I don’t feel okay with animals existing in subpar conditions just because I want to feed my tastebuds. But also, dairy and eggs aren’t the best for our gut bacteria and therefor our overall health, not to mention the health of the planet. (It’s all connected). I had already been a gluten free vegetarian for 7 years. With thanksgiving rolling around the corner, I sought a pumpkin pie recipe that had no eggs, wheat flour, or condensed milk.

The recipe was as close as the book shelf in my home studio space, adjacent to my kitchen. A student gave me Cafe Gratitude ‘a recipe book called I Am Grateful. I highly recommend the book!!!!

I changed the recipe a touch: there are more dates in the crust, I roasted the pumpkin instead of shredding the raw butternut squash, I added a little more than a pinch of turmeric, and instead of a pecan garnish, I sprinkled palm sugar and Ceylon. Here is their recipe:

One year anniversary of Eco Yoga

We might not be able to make huge improvements for world everyday, but we can at least do a little improvement each day. Collectively the little acts of service add up. After a year of meeting once a week for yoga practice, the Eco Yoga Community has prevented 20 metric tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere by preventing deforestation! Will you help us double that number for the second year of Eco Yoga?

Eco Yoga is a heart-felt asana class dedicated to serving our miraculous home, the only planet with life, in this crucial tipping point of climate change. Rainforests are massive carbon sinks, yet continuously they are burnt down to grow palm oil or raise cattle, returning the carbon back into the atmosphere. By stepping onto your mat, you fulfill your dharma to prevent another rainforest from burning; proceeds from each ten-class package are donated to prevent one metric ton from polluting our atmosphere and furthering our commitment to climate chaos. Eco Yoga is about connecting within and to Oneness, and realizing that Earth’s wellbeing translates to the wellbeing of one’s self. Dedicating your yoga to something higher than you empowers you as a channel for that higher energy. Eco Yoga transforms consciousness and karma as we start to see and treat the universe as an expansion of ourselves. The asana is creatively sequenced to challenge, with pranayama and options to play with arm balances and inversions. (Level 2-3)

This class is offered each Sunday at 10AM – 11:15 at the Pink House Studio on the intersection of Booth and Wright in Riverwest, Milwaukee, beginning April 30!

$14 per drop-in, or $100 for a 10-pack. 20% is donated to save the rainforests, save the critters, save the humans!

Three Practices to End Suffering

Humans are conditioned to suffer; suffering seems normal and we just accept it as part of life. We continue destructive behaviors even after we’ve been shown the harm we are inflicting on ourselves and others. Once we see the harm we cause, we feel guilty and the cycle is complete, we’re suffering again.
Often the ego tricks us into believing we are the victim, when we’re perceiving from the center, it seems things are happening to us- watch out for this voice!  In an early part of our journeys, victimhood holds some truth. We can fall victim to unconscious thinking and acting.  Once we recognize that we are free to choose what we think and do, we free ourselves from suffering. Pain is there and will arise- how do we react?  Do we complain, or with awareness realize it as a passing moment.  It’s not immediate, but it’s a challenging process of recognizing thoughts and impulses as they arise and choosing – do I go with the impulse? Where does the impulse come from – my True Eternal Blissful Self or the false self? (Hint: the false self usually wants to keep us suffering – stuck in the illusion of self as center; the True Self wants to serve the center.)  
 There are three ingredients in the recipe for success for relieving suffering, according to Sri Prem Baba: svadhyaya, or self-study and the study of sacred texts, humility, and sadhana, or spiritual practice.
Svadhyaya allows us to discover ourselves – what is ego, or the false self, and what is our True Self?  Notice your thoughts, daily patterns and choices this is your starting point.  Sacred texts are helpful in describing the true self. Sat chit ananda, your true self is eternal, unchanging, blissful. My suggestions for useful texts: Light on Life by BKS Iyengar, Sri Swami Satchidanda’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Swami Vivekenanda’s Jnana Yoga.  As you read these helpful texts, now observe yourself in light of the texts- what would Iyengar, Vivekenanda, or Satchidananda say?
Humility attracts wisdom, and pride or arrogance chases wisdom and divinity away. Humility also keeps us on our toes. When we’ve think we’ve gotten control of our senses and emotions, they can more easily sneak up on us. Pride also makes us feel like we know, so in a way it makes our cup full; humility is like an empty cup in which lessons from the divine can flow in and further fill us up.  
Sadhana keeps stripping away the false self and brings us back to the present moment to check in with ourselves. Sadhana is like an internal cleanse, all day long we are collecting impressions, like a house gathering dust. Sadhana is our way of directing the impressions for a set amount of time in order to keep a cleaner house.  Sadhana is making a conscious choice about what we’re doing and what we’re focusing on.

If you feel like you’re being used, it’s because you are.

If you feel like you’re being used, it’s because you are.  You are an instrument of the divine.  Your voice, your actions, your deeds are all in service of the highest.  What the highest is, or what is divine, that is up to your beliefs, only you know for yourself.  All I can say is that you are powerful, especially if you recognize yourself as a channel or pathway of divinity.

In our time of feeling politically disenfranchised, in our time of feeling so small as individuals in face of climate disaster, in our time when we feel pitted against one another, as a yogi, as an instrument of divinity myself, as a teacher, a friend, a lover of you, I must say that you have the power of the universe, of nature, of God, of the divine on your side.  We all do, it’s just that many forget.  Even I can forget as I wallow in self pity over conflict.

What does the divine want?  How can you serve this higher purpose?  Well, you are divine.  So what do you want?  What are your goals?  And then, what is your starting point?  How can you connect where you are in this moment with where you want to be?  What’s your first step?  And then the second?  Don’t worry about filling them all in, one step at a time.

Empower yourself and others by believing and seeing the highest in yourself and in them too.  Finally, let yourself be used.  It’s a lesson in humility for sure, so the ego will want to fight it.  This is ishvara pranidhana, the last and most difficult of niyamas, or observances in our foundational yoga practices.  Ishvara pranidhana is the surrendering of our small self to our highest Self, the Self that is in all other beings.