February 8, 2012

It Starts Here. ~ S. Ashley Hunt

– Put your own hand on your own heart – 

The other night I attended satsang at Sivanada Vedanta Center. The Swami leading satsang was reading Swami Sivanada’s words during his satsang teaching, “…the world’s problems are a summary of all the individual problems…”

What a powerful statement! If we truly dissect these words of truth and wisdom, we find that looking outside of ourselves or placing blame elsewhere to solve problems is a futile expense of energy. Swami is saying, no more separating oneself from the issues at hand because looking at the world’s problems is like looking into a mirror.
 By no means is this a burden, in fact it is a gift!

Each one of us has the power to make the change. We are all connected to the whole and the earth is a reflection of humanity. We are a reflection of the earth. No more waiting around for someone or something else to solve the problem, the solution is every one of us.


The preservation of our rapidly disappearing resources and environment, is an urgent global matter of the present and future. Swami Sivanada’s words “…the world’s problems are a summary of all the individual problems…” were first published in 1951, and not published again until 2008. Our universe has a way of answering its own questions if we just listen. We are being asked to examine:

How we each expand and direct our own energy on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels?
 Can we become aware of how we direct energy outwardly and inwardly!?

Our current energy sources that have sustained life as we know it are diminishing with the blink of an eye. This hasty depletion poses an intimidation that a drastic life-style change is on the horizon. We are merely being asked to change. The consumption of these resources have also left behind a mess that mother earth herself cannot handle. What does this earthly situation reflect about how we as individuals direct our own energy? How can I connect to my own peace of mind by focusing on what I can control? Myself, my own actions, reactions, thoughts and speech.

Swami Sivanada’s words speak to the energy crisis we are faced with in our external reality and within our own minds and bodies. Changing one’s internal environment has a directly proportionate effect on the external environment. This change must start in our own mental and physical reality. This is the true ground of creation. We are what we see and experience. There is only apparent separation.

Yogic practice builds awareness and mindfulness so we can begin to understand how we use, waste, expand and sustain energy that fuels creative and destructive cycles in our lives. 
The first steps to confronting this energy crisis are looking within. Get to know yourself on deep levels and cultivate compassion for others and oneself. 
Ask yourself the following question and contemplate:
 how do I direct energy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually?


– Do I honor my body for the gift that it is?
– Do I rest when I need to rest?
– Am I constantly pushing myself to fatigue and neglecting my body and mind?
– Do I take time for myself to reflect upon the day?
– Can I explore and be open to physical manifestations that are self-induced by my own behavior and thought patterns?


– Do I harbor negative emotions towards others?
– Am I a grudge holder? How do these feelings affect my over all well-being?
– Do I have a hard time forgiving?
– Do I draw healthy sustainable boundaries for myself in relationships (friends, family, partners)?
– Do I obsess over circumstantial details in my life, because I fear change?
– What commitments have I made to myself to sustain my own well-being?
– What activities do I engage in to raise my self-esteem and recognize my own self-worth?


– Do I exhaust myself worrying, planning, predicting, or projecting?
– Do I let my insecurities cloud my vision of the situation?
– Do I hold myself to unachievable standards?
– Do I appreciate myself for my gifts and talents?
– Can I accept and love my own weaknesses?
– Do I obsess over what is right and what is wrong? How do I discern between the two in my own life? Does it change based on subjective reality?
– Do I find joy in what I regularly engage in? Activities, relationships, daily duties… Am I practicing ease and joy within engagement in the moment?
– What practices have I set in place to uplift myself when I recognize I have fallen short of my own capacity?


– Who am I?
– What is the purpose of my life?
– Do I feel deeply connected and grateful for the people, places and things around me?
– What practices, activities, or creative endeavors can I choose to build awareness?
– Am I aware of how I affect myself, others and my surrounding reality?

These are just a few questions from different perspectives. We all will have different answers to these questions. There are an infinite number of ways to positively affect the energy crisis within your own mind and the world. If we all take care of one another and ourselves the earth will take care of herself.

“Freedom is ours to hold, it’s just a struggle in your mind to keep your soul
”-The Beautiful Girls

Ashley has been studying and practicing yoga for the last 8 years. Ashley has her Bachelors of Arts in Hinduism and Buddhism from Trinity College, CT. She continues her graduate studies at The Goddard College in the Individualized Masters of Arts program with a concentration in Consciousness Studies. Ashley has been teaching yoga for the last several years in yoga studios and within academia. Last year Ashley taught her own yoga philosophy curriculum to Trinity College undergraduates. A class formatted to the setting of a liberal arts New England college where the academic study of yogic ideology is coupled with the practice of yogic techniques. Ashley is also a current participant of the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program, and will be a certified UZIT by this coming March. Ashley completed Lilias Folan and Katy Knowles 200 hr teacher training and is currently studying for her 500hr certification with Lila Yoga. She has taken many a master training with Para Yoga-Rod Styker, and respects the authenticity and clarity of Rodney Yee, Colleen Yee, Roshi Joan Halifax, Richard Freeman and Richard Rosen’s teachings through her work with Urban Zen Integrative Therapy. Blessings and love to Turner Hunt, Tracy Hunt and Ducky Hunt, Ashley’s family will forever be in her heart.
~ If I am a continually changing entity, then balance in my life is an evolving process.BLISS and LOVE, May we all meet one another in the light. ~ Ashley’s website.

This article was prepared by Jennifer Cusano in support of the Elephant Yoga Editorial Staff.

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