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Stability in Community Living

where spirituality and sustainability intertwine

July 29, 2010 by Seva Ganga

Yasodhara Ashram has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2013 and this has made me reflect on sustainability.  I’m starting to feel that daily stability and long-term sustainability are deeply intertwined. I see the ashram as an excellent example of a socially sustainable community.

Over the years it has developed a core community of residents and long term karma yoginis and yogis, and has a wide circle of extended community and folks who have passed through and been affected by their experience here.

I believe the primary reason that the ashram is such a model for sustainable communities is that the residents and longer term karma yogis all have the common direction of growing in awareness and engaging in spiritual practice as a way to a brighter future.

On a day to day level, this sustainability is supported through the stability of a consistent schedule of hatha yoga, karma yoga, silent meals, reflections and satsang six to seven days each week.  And interestingly enough, mental and emotional stability is further developed in each person here through the practice of accepting that change in this generally consistent schedule can happen at any time with no advance notice.

Yasodhara Ashram, a sustainable community with spiritual practices

Another facet which contributes to the stability of the ashram are the lifestyle factors which are part of living here. Being in a celibate community offers an enormous reduction in interpersonal drama and the opportunity to develop deeply solid work and friendship-based relationships.

The fact that the ashram has a strict policy against intoxicants provides an atmosphere where people have less external influence towards what the Buddha referred to as “heedlessness”.  These are two of the major factors which help those who come here develop mindfulness and increase their awareness in everyday life.

I’ve been delving into the many aspects of sustainability for years, and only now am I beginning to see the importance of daily stability in moving toward many different types of sustainability.  Environmental sustainability appears to be a branch which really flourishes with a stable lifestyle and a daily life-affirming routine supporting it.  On a personal level, when I have a consistent daily routine I can pay more attention to how much garbage I produce, opportunities to reuse small things throughout the days, and ways in which I can further reduce my consumption.

Steven & Arrowynd

On a symbolic level, I relate reducing my trash to reducing how much physical and mental energy I waste, reusing small objects to remembering and reusing insights I’ve had, and looking for ways to further reduce my consumption as the continuous practice of finding and reducing concepts and notions which no longer serve me.

For an organization of its size, I am inclined to think that Yasodhara Ashram is on the forefront of the current trend toward sustainability and environmental awareness.  The dedication and focus shown here toward lessening our environmental impact is inspiring.

I hope that people who come here can leave with both a better understanding of Swami Radha’s teachings and a better understanding of how easy and joyful changing our lives toward less waste and more awareness can be.

Steven Ganga was a long-term karma yogi at Yasodhara Ashram, and has been a practitioner and teacher of yoga for many years.

This article has been featured as part of our July 2010 sustainability week.


  1. Thanks so much for this article. very inspiring indeed. I love how its all connected. Yes, environmental sustainability in a way being a much broader expression of our internal environmental sustainability. Is my internal environment sustainable .. yes, a good question for review and reflection.
    Thanks! Paula

    Comment by paula richardson — July 30, 2010 @ 8:57 am

  2. mmmmmmm, internal stability. I’m back at a time in my life where my environment has been shifting a lot with travel and movement. While I was writing this article, I had mostly been thinking about how daily external stability, (not something I’ve managed to maintain for long stretches at other times) was helping me in my environmental practice.

    That internal stability does play a big part too, doesn’t it?

    thanks for your thoughts,

    Comment by Steven — August 2, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

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