"Do-Over"

"Do-Over"

Pope Francis issued his Encyclical on Climate on June 18, a document reserved for only the most pressing of global matters. The Pope said that protecting our planet is a moral and ethical imperative, and that a bold cultural revolution is needed to save the planet from Climate Change and Consumerism.

Vatican Pope

Sometimes people are surprised that as a yoga teacher I am speaking out on Climate Change and they ask what Yoga and Climate Change have to do with each other. Listen to my talk on the topic.

154300_371096299651023_1692205766_n

If we walk our talk that ‘We are All One’, that we are manifestations of the same Spirit, then it follows that we care about all life on this planet. We care about the suffering of others because at some level we are all spiritual sisters and brothers. We care about earth’s animals and plants because they are part of our only home. Yoga and virtually all spiritual and religious traditions teach us to be compassionate toward all living beings and to be of service.

Join me for an opportunity to be with kindred spirits for a one-     of-a-kind Yoga &  The Climate Crisis workshop at Willow Street Yoga Center July 24-25, in which  we’ll look at Climate through the lens of yoga as we reclaim our connection to the  sacred. 

It is remarkable to have the Pope speaking about Climate in such a powerful way.  And to also see so many spiritual groups speaking out, all of them addressing it  as a moral imperative in addition to the environmental necessity:

Interfaith Power & Light, a religious response to global warming, was founded by  Rev. Canon Sally Bingham.  She was one of the first religious leaders to recognize  climate as a critical moral issue. They are building momentum for a binding  agreement in Dec. in Paris for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. 

  •  The Episcopal Church, led by Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, is responding to  the Climate Crisis. Her voice is uniquely powerful, backed by science (she has a  doctorate in Oceanography), and her moral authority as a spiritual leader, when  she says, "We are making war on the integrity of this planet.
  •  Also the climate resources the Episcopal Church has put together are  exceptional!

As Pope Francis makes clear, addressing climate change calls for a deep transformation of our social, political, and economic systems. All of us must do our part to care for the world we share.

So what can we do?

  • Participate! Choose one issue related to Climate Change: get educated and get involved! Whether that takes the form of donating to a cause you believe in, talking about climate with your friends and family, calling your members of Congress, or writing letters to Congress and/or the editor of your local paper.  
    • There are many environmental and climate organizations that are making a difference.  Google "climate change organizations" to find one that speaks to you. Choose one!   
    • Talk it up!  Research shows only 3% of the U. S. population regularly talks about the climate situation… let’s increase that number!
  • Support a fee on carbon! Considered by many to be THE most significant action we can take, because it establishes policies that support the result we want: less CO2 in the atmosphere. This is something we have to do together. Join with others to pressure Congress to adopt this needed and sensible legislation.  
    • The organization I like so much that I joined is the Citizens Climate Lobby (and I even went to DC June 21-23 and lobbied Congress with 800 other CCL volunteers! I’m the one in the teal blouse!)

18508348783_032a97f44f_n

    • A basic CCL tenet is: "Politicians don’t create political will, they respond to it". 
    • If this doesn’t appeal to you Google Carbon Fee and choose another organization promoting a fee on carbon. 
    • Talk it up! Make "carbon fee" part of mainstream conversation.  
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. Consume less. Eat local.
    • Check out Project Draw Down for more inspiring actions you can take. 
      • DRAWDOWN is the point when greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begin to decline.
    • Talk it up! Be the first in your group to mention  ‘climate change’ & ‘carbon fee’, and the importance of reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • Develop your compassion! Choose to look at other peoples around the world, especially poorer coastal countries who contributed very little to global warming but are reaping the destructive forces of it, like the Philippines and the Maldives. Stand up and speak out for climate justice.   
  • Try Meatless Mondays! Research shows that raising livestock is a major contributor to increasing greenhouse gasses and also consumes a huge amount of water, which we all know is a dwindling resource. 
  • Continue or increase your spiritual practices, whatever they are, that bring you peace and a sense of well-being. Take time to be in Nature and appreciate her magnificence! Exercise. Eat well. Nourish yourself daily. Practice soothing yourself naturally, so you are as balanced, centered, and steady as possible during these turbulent times of change.  

We are facing an unprecedented crisis… an emergency of epic proportions! It’s time for all hands on deck! Invoke your Warrior Spirit and get involved!

Consider this: maybe this is why you are living at this historic time! Maybe it is your Life Purpose to wake up now: both to this unprecedented emergency and to the most profound opportunity you will every have to make a difference. We have the opportunity to work with others around the world on a major "Do-Over". Maybe this is the opportunity of a lifetime: the opportunity to remake the world into the kind of home we want it to be, with compassion, with true freedom, and with liberty and justice for all. 

Solutions Abound, but First …

Solutions Abound, but First …

Solutions abound to respond to the Climate Crisis, but first we need to acknowledge the extent of the problem.

We need to see and accept how dire the climate situation is … I know, people don’t want to read these words, or stop long enough in their busy schedules to take in the severity of the crisis we’re in. Because if we do, we’ll feel compelled to action: for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

By burning gas, oil and coal we’re putting a blanket of CO2 around the earth that warms up the earth too much. These increased temperatures are shifting the climate on Planet Earth. Here are some of the consequences:

*  Increased air temperature
*  Increased ocean temperature
*  Both of these have led to birds, animals, butterflies and other insects (including pests) moving northward. Some species will not be able to migrate fast enough to survive.

*  Increased extinction of many species, and at an increasing rate; an article in Science estimates that one in six species may go extinct

  *  Increased ocean acidity, leading to die off of coral reefs and fish; especially problematic is the die off of phytoplankton and zooplankton, the tiny plants and animals that form the base of the marine food chain
*  Increased severe weather events, including hurricanes and typhoons
*  Increased droughts, wildfires, and flooding, decreasing crop yields
*  Increased political unrest around the world, especially in countries who are already poor and are having difficulty feeding their populations
*  Increased humanitarian needs around the world, including a new category of climate refugees
*  Decreased amount of fresh water available, due to melting of glaciers that supply fresh water
*  Sea level rise, affecting coastal cities around the world, especially NYC and Miami in the US.

Why is there not a national emergency declared
over this significant threat to the very survival of the planet
as we know it?

Lack of media attention is one huge reason.
MONEY is the other big reason – we’ll discuss that below!

The Ed Show on msnbc has been running a story on the climate crisis every day this week. If you missed any of it, you can find the stories here.

There are a tremendous number of solutions! Countries around the world, Europe especially, are already involved in implementing solutions. In fact, many countries are switching to renewables at a blistering pace!
*  Solar: Germany led the world in the number of roof top solar installations beginning in 2005, a position it still held at the beginning of 2014, with 1.4 million rooftop units installed. Australia has gone from 8,000 rooftop solar systems in 2007 to over 1 million today. China is also going full-speed ahead on solar and is positioned to soon lead the world in the amount of energy produced from the sun.
*   Wind: Denmark supplied 62% of its energy needs in January 2014 with wind, up from 34% in 2013. Portugal and Spain got over 20% of their electricity from wind in 2013.
*  In the state of South Australia, on September 30, 2014, power generated from wind and solar exceeded the state’s electricity demand!
The U.S. lags behind most of the world, but as prices drop, installations are increasing. 600,000 rooftop units had been installed as of late 2014.
*  I’m excited to be putting solar panels on my roof!
*  Plus the price of solar panels has decreased by 2/3 in recent years!

Lester Brown in his new book, The Great Transition, Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy, states this:

"The sunlight striking the earth’s surface in just one hour delivers enough energy
to power the world economy for one year."

Why then are we still focusing on fossil fuels for our energy?

MONEY!

One reason for our focus on fossil fuel and the lack of mainstream media attention on climate change is that a core group of very wealthy people benefits from the status quo. They are making decisions to go for short-term profits rather than the long-term security and safety of their children and grandchildren and even the earth.

Therefore the most significant impact we can have is
to get a fee on carbon.
So that those who put CO2 into the atmosphere pay for it.

The good news is that there are bipartisan efforts in Congress working on this!!

I just joined The Citizens Climate Lobby, a bipartisan organization focused on getting a law passed to put an escalating fee on carbon. They lobby members of Congress to let them know what their constituents want. The latest polling shows public opinion supports the government doing something about climate!!

Support this organization or any other organization fighting to place a fee on carbon. Or better yet, join CCL and attend the Annual Conference in Washington, DC, June 22-24. I’m going and would be thrilled to see you there!!. Don’t worry they train us before we go to lobby the members of Congress! And they send experienced members in with us newbies!

So what significant actions can you take?
*  Talk about Climate Change!
o With your neighbors, family, church, friends, and other groups you participate in. It’s the biggest issue facing our country and the world, and your children and grandchildren. Nothing will make more of a difference in their lives than you taking action to promote the solutions!
o As an awakened public we want to put pressure on the White House to sign a binding agreement in Paris in December, as Pope Frances wants to do.

*  Support a fee on carbon.
*  Educate yourself on all the issues around the Climate Crisis. A great place to start is with the book, This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein.
*  Do what you can to lower your carbon footprint.
*  Listen to my presentation on Yoga & the Climate Crisis, given in Austin, TX, in February 2015.

So… here we are!  In the biggest crisis ever to face the earth and significant numbers of people are still asleep!  With deep compassion, talk to everyone… help them wake up to the situation so we can come together in collective action before we create more burdens for our children and grandchildren.

Individually we are not strong enough!  Individually we cannot change enough to make the needed impact.  We need to exert our collective will on our legislators; we need policy changes.  We need to put pressure on our legislators and the White House to sign a binding agreement at the Paris Climate Talks this coming December.

In the words of Drew Dellinger, who says it so eloquently:

"It’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams,
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, and birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?

what did you do
once
you
knew?

Excerpt from Hieroglyphic Stairway, a poem by Drew Dellinger
Re-printed with permission.

"Houston, we have a problem …"

"Houston, We Have a Problem …"

There was no other way I could think of to start this other than with those iconic words we all remember from the early days of space travel …

"Houston, we have a problem…"

And we do have a problem, a significant problem: the Climate Crisis is much more serious than most people realize.

Unless you are reading climate news websites, you may not know that many scientists are now talking about two new potentials:
Civilization itself may not be able to survive the warming trajectory we are on.
We are leaving a legacy of massive suffering for our kids and grandkids if we continue the path we’re on.

All this information is documented in a new book:
UNPRECEDENTED
Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis?
By David Ray Griffin, Ph.D.

This is an extraordinary handbook, with details on everything from the unprecedented threats, such as:
extreme weather, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, sea-level rise, fresh water shortage, food shortages, ocean acidification, etc.
to the unprecedented challenges and failures of our media and political system as well as moral, religious, and economic issues,
and the transition to clean energy, with info about all the options and the exciting progress made so far.

If you feel overwhelmed about this situation, you are not alone! As we all know, the best antidote to feelings of overwhelment, fear, and anxiety is purposeful action. So choose one small thing you could do today to reduce your carbon footprint to care for the earth … and just begin.

There is also some very good news!! Millions of people all over the world have already begun the process of working together in community to adapt to this new paradigm of lowering our CO2 emissions, including Burlington, VT that just became the first U.S. city to run on 100% sustainable energy!

So we know it’s possible… Renewables supplied 30% of Germany’s energy in 2014. In developing countries renewable energy also contributes to alleviating poverty, by providing energy for cooking, space heating, lighting, and also electricity for schools. In fact, Kenya is now the world leader in the number of solar power systems installed per capita. We can care for the earth and in the process improve the lives of millions around the globe. hands holding green heart shaped tree tree arranged in a heart shape love nature save the world heal the world environmental preservation

This new paradigm also requires us to consume less: less energy, use less plastic, switch to cleaner energy sources, eat local food, reuse and recycle everything possible, or don’t buy it in the first place! Check here for more ideas to reduce your carbon footprint and/or take the quiz below:
Ecological Footprint Quiz: http://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator

Our first goal is not to try to save the world, although we might do that some day, but the first thing is to get our behavior in alignment with our values. If we value the kind of life we are leaving to our kids and grandkids, then we will begin making daily choices to support these values.

An interesting feature about this massive movement is that it’s decentralized and is not headed up by any one person… and is beginning to come together with all the other issues that need to be addressed, such as establishing a living minimum wage, social justice, income equality, democracy, reducing poverty, etc. But the decentralized nature of this movement means it’s still below the radar and the media has not recognized it. That often leaves us feeling alone, not knowing there are millions who are already engaged in important changes.

For a 5-min overview, listen to Paul Hawken on the Biggest
Movement in the World that No One Saw Coming: the reason we have hope for a meaningful transformation in the world.

You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to take one purposeful action, no matter how small or large. Just begin!

And don’t forget to spend time in Nature and appreciate the vastness and beauty of our earth!

Raging Grannies & Warrior Spirits Needed!

Raging Grannies & Warrior Spirits Needed!

On February 14 I’ll be engaging in a new endeavor! I’ll be marching with a group called the Raging Grannies in the 9th annual Moral March on Raleigh. The march is to express love for qualities of life that we all hold dear: Justice, Education, Climate, Economic Sustainability, Worker’s rights, Livable Wages, Equal Protection Under the Law, etc. and is led by Reverend William Barber.

I’m quite excited about this new activity and feel it’s a way to take my yoga off the mat and into the world … literally into the streets! Interesting too … it feels like continuing the work of Martin Luther King. It reminds me of the 60’s! People from all around the country are expected to attend, and it’s open to all – join us if you’re close by or want to travel!

As Drew Dellinger has stated: "Democracy is one of the deep spiritual challenge of our times".

I am also quite excited to be attending the Kindred Spirits Reunion in Austin, TX, a weekend get-together for all previous and current Anusara teachers and students. It’s the brainchild of Desiree Rumbaugh, with Suzie Hurley, Marsha Nieland, and myself helping out.

This year I am greatly looking forward to offering Yoga & The Climate Crisis presentations at yoga studios around the country. It’s an opportunity for us to pause in our busy lives and take a look at the biggest challenge that faces humanity.

The question that’s been haunting me for the last 2 years is this: "What does Yoga uniquely have to offer to this situation?" I’ve come to see that yoga’s offering is monumental and I’m passionate about sharing my vision and adding my perspective to the conversation. In the presentation we’ll review the latest science and focus on what we can contribute, both individually and collectively.

Upcoming in March I’ll be teaching in the 300-hour Rasika Teacher Training Program developed by Kelley Gardner and Stacey Millner-Collins. This is an impressive and thoroughly professional Yoga Teacher Training, modeled after a college curriculum. I’m proud to be participating, and pleased to be teaching in the Program again in July.

In addition I’ll be co-teaching the Spirited Women’s Retreat with my "young & juicy" friend and colleague, Suzie Hurley. We’ll have a mini-version at Kripalu April 2-5 and the full version in Tulum, MX October 24-31. This year our topic is " Six Keys for Aging with Grace, Beauty, Passion & Juice!" Registration opens for the MX retreat March 24.

2015 looks like a pivotal time as more people around the world wake up to see what dire straits the planet is in. We are experiencing a convergence of major issues from climate change, inequality, and loss of our democracy, to the increasing oligarchy in the US where the 1% are determining what is possible for the rest of us.

NOW is the time to wake up our Warrior Spirit, whether it’s a Raging Grannie or the Goddess Durga! Time to speak up and speak out; to take the risk of sharing what’s in our hearts: our hopes, dreams, and vision for a healthy and sustainable and just world. We are truly all in this together!

Beautiful & Powerful Poem

Beautiful & Powerful Poem

I have recently discovered Drew Dellinger, speaker, poet, activist, writer, and founder of Planetize The Movement. He has written an exquisite poem, shared below:

"it’s 3:23 in the morning

and I’m awake

because my great great grandchildren

won’t let me sleep

my great great grandchildren

ask me in dreams

what did you do while the planet was plundered?

what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

surely you did something

when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest

when democracy was stolen?

 

what did you do

once

you

knew?"

Poem reprinted with the permission of Drew Dellinger   Continue reading

Finding Stillness …

Finding Stillness …

There is great wisdom in finding stillness in a busy world … The many gifts include rest, insight, clarity, energy, and renewed enthusiasm for Life.  Sometimes the gift of a weekend away or a retreat is the most deeply nourishing experience we can give ourselves.

It offers you the opportunity to slow down and savor your life as you soak in the beauty and vastness of Nature.  Take the time to nourish your Spirit with yoga and meditation practices, get up early for a walk outside, eat fresh (organic) food, and spend time with kindred spirits at your retreat!! Returning to your “regular” life so refreshed, with new eyes, and an uplifted and inspired heart is priceless!

Consider this delightful present to yourself!

Cutting Edge Research – Bruce Lipton

Cutting Edge Research – Bruce Lipton

Just in case you’ve been curious about the new field of epigenetics or wondered how the newest science in genetics and biology interfaces with real life, here is a great lecture for you!

It’s by Bruce Lipton, cutting edge researcher in the field of biology and genetics and author of The Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution, and The Honeymoon Effect.  It’s posted on the Beyond Awakening Series website. You have to register, which is free, and then all the lectures posted there are also free.  Here’s the link:

Bruce makes the information very accessible… so if you have not had an opportunity to read about this new field and how it overlaps with what we study in yoga this is a great opportunity to get up to date information.Bruce also shares the fascinating story of how he developed these ideas and what it was like to be so far ahead of the times in what was accepted in medicine.

Here are some of the highlights for me:

at 22 min:  Your biology is influenced by your interpretation of events, not by the events themselves

at 31 min: What influences the sub conscious mind which controls our behavior

at 52 min:  Beliefs and thoughts are not just contained in your head!  This is the science behind the statement, "You become the company you keep, so keep good company!"

at 56 min:  The power of the collective

at 1 hr, 14 min:  Cancer, genes, and beliefs

at 1 hr, 18 min:  Parkinson Disease and placebo research

at 1 hr, 26 min:  How to change the subconscious mind

This is exciting information and a very empowering message!

Aging with Passion & Significance

Aging with Passion & Significance

I read an interesting research finding on aging recently: the best way to have a great life, as well as to reduce the risk of the deterioration and typical markers of aging, is to have a Purpose … something bigger than our individual self to be involved in.  Your Purpose draws the best of you to the surface to be lived and expressed.

What I have found remarkable in the past several years of my reading is the number of people over the age of 75 who are making significant contributions to the conversations of our times.  These people have inspired me tremendously!

  • Joanna Macy, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology.  A respected voice in the movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with five decades of activism.
  • Barbara Marx Hubbard, noted futurist, evolutionary thought leader, author of seven books, social innovator and public speaker; president of The Foundation for Conscious Evolution
  • Jean Houston, Ph.D., scholar, philosopher and researcher in Human Capacities; one of the foremost visionary thinkers and doers of our time. She is noted for her ability to combine a deep knowledge of history, culture, new science, spirituality and human development into her teaching.
  • Lester R. Brown, " … one of the pioneers and heroes of global environmentalism"; president of Earth Policy Institute in Washington, DC; has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the world’s most influential thinkers"; his principal research areas include food, population, water, climate change, and renewable energy.
  • Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at MIT; linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator and activist; voted the "world’s top public intellectual" in a 2005 poll.
  • Joe Newman, a 101-year old running for Congress in Sarasota, FL in the 2014 midterms!  "At what age does a person become too old to think and reason? At what age does a person no longer have a concern for society? At what age does a person no longer have a responsibility to act when acting may help?

If you thought you might be getting too old to make a difference, think again!!  The average age of this group is 85.3 years old!  In fact everyone in this group is over 80 except for one.  And they still are actively making tremendous contributions!

So… don’t give up on yourself! I hope to be actively involved in Life and making whatever contribution I can for at least another 20 years!! Let’s do it together!

 

One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising

One great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to support a movement working to eradicate violence against women and girls.  I’ve said in my yoga workshops for a few years now that I think this is going to be the Century of Women!  I see the power of women to stand up, speak up, and rise up to our full expression of equality growing by leaps and bounds.

As a case in point, last year on Valentine’s Day was the biggest mass action in human history: One Billion Rising.  The campaign began as a call to action based on the staggering UN statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime.  With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS.

Events are being held across the globe to raise awareness and money for this cause.  This campaign is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many people all over the world.

To support this great program with a donation and/or to look for events in your area, go to the website.  If you live in the Sarasota, FL, area, check out this wonderful program at a local yoga studio offered by my friend Esther.

You can also sign a declaration here calling for urgent action on climate change and sustainability solutions, in the recognition that climate destabilization imposes greater burdens on women.

This is an amazing movement to be part of.

For me it follows from the philosophical teaching articulated so beautifully by Douglas Brooks:

"I am not you.

I am something like you.

I am nothing but you."

One Billion Rising is an acknowledgement of our connection to each other.  It is a magnificent and an empowering way to share our heart energy on Valentine’s Day!

Here’s more information from the website:

One Billion Rising is a global movement of the "recognition that we cannot end violence against women without looking at the intersection of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. Impunity lives at the heart of these interlocking forces."

It is part of the V-Day movement that began in 1998 which has raised over $100 million for the cause.  It has crafted educational, media, and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters and funded over 13,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses around the globe.

The movement also recognizes that the impacts of climate change on women are generally a greater burden, especially for women from low-income communities, indigenous women, and those in developing countries. The Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN) is a "solutions-based, multi-faceted effort established to engage women worldwide to take action as powerful stakeholders in climate change and sustainability solutions."

 

" … governed by your inferiors."

" … governed by your inferiors."

Now is the time…

"Yoga says to first be a responsible world citizen" … one of my favorite (and surprising) quotes by Douglas Brooks.  Part of our spirituality is to participate in the world and make it a better place. Therefore, in my humble opinion …

Now is the time to get involved in the messy business of how our country is being governed (aka politics), to get educated on the best option of what’s available to us, to speak up, speak out and act …What is happening in our government with the shutdown and the threat of not paying our bills is beyond outrageous.

We’ve seen that positive results can happen when the people are outraged and let their politicians know it. It was public outrage that influenced recalcitrant members of Congress to finally support the Violence Against Women Act last February, and to prompt Larry Summers to remove his name as a candidate for the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Janet Yellen was nominated instead.

Today, tomorrow, and the next day, seated in your heart, make your voice heard.

Otherwise, what follows is just as Plato observed: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” We’ve seen them in action and that option is very scary.It’s for our collective future.