What is the essence of Yoga? Let’s hope, we in the west, see Yoga as more than breathing, stretching and lookin’ good for our next facebook photo album. Yoga is certainly beyond holding the most difficult Asana for more than brief moments.
Consider the original purpose of yoga that has inspired humans for 5,000 years to practice: to refine our consciousness for perfect spiritual insight, a peaceful mind and a healthy body. Through a path of action, knowledge and devotion one achieves tranquility of thoughts and emotions. A profound sense of connection with the entire universe arises. One experiences a profound interconnectedness, at a cellular level with life force energy. A natural desire arises to love and protect the sacredness of all life throughout the universe. Stress dissolves and the heart opens.
In this post modern age of Kali Yuga, we are all experiencing increasing levels of stress – no one is free from the challenges of difficult life circumstances. As the reality of Climate Change sinks into our daily awareness, we witness the Earth heating up at an accelerated rate. We’ll be putting Bikram Choudhury out of business fast. Bikram fans know his innovative hot yoga is conducted in a room temperature between 95 – 100 degrees. Cynics and skeptics will suggest that we start doing our practice in Moscow, which just set an all time record of 102 degrees July 29, 2010! As I write this, the fires and heat wave continues out of control. There is a small problem tho’, Yoga requires breathing and the quality of the air surrounding and blanketing Moscow is ten times worse than the recommended standard for humans and other animals. Most of the pollution is carbon monoxide.
Do we practice yoga or any other spiritual path in order to sit idly by, in a state of bliss, as we watch the world burn up and the Cryosphere dissolve before our eyes? At this time, on planet earth our contemplative prayers and personal happiness may not be enough. The quality of our being means a lot, yet we are being called to participate directly in the healing of Gaia. In my view, the purpose of an integrated spiritual discipline is to cultivate the capacity to take action and make a difference in the world. This is where AREDAY in Aspen comes into the conversation! We are blessed in Colorado to be a center of great opportunities to make a difference in the world and AREDAY represents a wonderful opportunity to participate in solutions, while also enjoying an environmental film festival, outdoor exhibits and music!
AREDAY actually stands for American Renewable Energy Day – I like to think of AREDAY as Awakening, Rejuvenating and Energizing, not unlike Yoga! This year, during the 7th annual gathering, you’ll be able to mingle and interact with Avatars, Radicals and Earthlings – all committed to creating a new clean energy economy at speed and scale. “Radical” in the very best sense of the word from its Latin origin: “arising from a root or source, effecting fundamental change”! You’ll be amazed by the line up of renowned speakers, and the tremendous agenda – including James Cameron, Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens – most importantly YOU. Yes, you; are you expecting someone else to play your part? Perhaps my favorite acronym for AREDAY is Astonishing, Renaissance, Evolving,
WHEN: August 19 -22
WHERE: Aspen, Colorado – The Hotel Jerome & Paepcke Auditorium at the Aspen Institute
WHAT: Presentations, Demonstrations, Environmental Films, Music and Dialogue!
Let’s add as many Elephant Journal readers, fans, Yogis and Yoginis to the celebration of bringing forth a brand new world, as we possibly can! Appreciate this perspective about our own short life: it is only worthwhile when we participate fully! Let’s invite Yogi Berra too, after all, he reminded us that “The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be”!
If a caterpillar can change it’s DNA let’s see if we can’t transform our thinking and behavior too! Drop all disbelief and embrace unreasonable, audacious, creativity. Ask yourself: “what is necessary to restore balance and harmony to our world?”
Who or what are we waiting for? Wouldn’t you like to answer the Caterpillar’s question: “Who are you?” with a clear response that you are a person who cares and is dedicated to healing the damage humans are causing to selflessly bring forth a fresh new world of possibilities. No one else is going to do it for us, especially not the media. See what the New York Times had to say about record smashing heat waves – making this the hottest decade in the last 2000 years of climate history. Not to mention our CO2 concentrations are now at 390 parts per million and rising 2 parts per million per year. That staggering concentration is higher than it has been for the last 350,000 years (it never went above 350 ppm)! I thought I’d better throw in at least a couple of abstract numbers for the engineers in the audience. All the members of the “make the world a better place” choir will have to raise our voices and take action now – not to be overly dramatic, but folks, we’re in a race with time and toxins.
Let us join together and make the future as bright as possible. We will need extraordinary internal skills to transmute our grief when we come face to face with a dramatically changing Earth. Anyone who has driven the I-70 corridor through the heart center of the Colorado Rocky Mountains lately knows this reality. It isn’t easy to witness the death of millions of trees, due to a warming planet and the devastating impact of the Mountain Pine Beetle vectors (Dendroctonus ponderosae) knows how awful it feels to see nothing but a sea of brown that once was green. More than 2 million acres of forest have been killed. It is this kind of visual evidence that most people will finally begin to pay attention to. We must focus our awareness on our highest standards of human behavior and reverence for life. Once that positive energy and attitude is firmly established in our being, we must do our best to protect and preserve the great mystery of nature! Poetry can ease the pain of our knowing.
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into the tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
—Rabindranath Tagore, Songs of Kabir
Join us in Aspen and bring the fullness of your yoga practice with you!