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Sustaining My Inner And Outer Environment

June 5, 2009 by Satya

twilightlakeI live in a spectacular and awe-inspiring environment surrounded by mountains, lakes and forests. I find this environment sustaining—physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s an environment that stimulates reflection—thinking deeply about life, the connection with all living beings…with this earth that I am part of.

The Divine Light Invocation

The Divine Light Invocation

Sitting in one of the Ashram gardens overlooking Kootenay Lake, I begin writing this article and thinking about ‘sustainability’. It’s a quiet time before entering into the daily karma yoga. I hear the call of a loon. A soft warmth touches my skin as a gentle breeze carries the fragrance of opening blossoms. Words from the Divine Light Invocation come to mind…I am sustained by Divine Light…and I’m reminded that this is the place to begin and to keep returning to in my practice of sustainability.

What is sustainability? What does it mean to me? How do I sustain myself? What do I want to sustain in my life? How does the Light sustain me and what is the effect on my inner and outer environments?

For me the Light brings awareness, compassion and greater understanding. It helps open things up so I’m more in touch with myself and the world I live in. It helps bring awareness of choices I make and that these choices have an effect on my environment.

In my day-to-day work at the Ashram I am involved with food sustainability initiatives that are part of our overall carbon neutral goal. It’s a perfect place to bring in the practice of Yoga.

Sustainability Team

Sustainability Team 09

The Ashram sustainability team includes karma yogis from the kitchen, garden and food preserving group. The focus is on using what’s available from our organic garden and orchards. Buying food from local growers is also an important part of our food sustainability approach. The Ashram has supported local growers for decades and is a shareholder in the Creston/Nelson Community Supported Agriculture movement.

This summer Creston Valley farmers are growing 2,500 lbs of grain for the Ashram. Purchasing grain locally supports local agriculture, reduces our carbon footprint and also provides healthier food for our community and guests.

It takes effort to bring something that is an ideal and actually put it into practice. One ideal that our sustainability team is working towards is having seasonal menus which reflect what’s available from our garden and the surrounding area. This means thinking ahead and planning for those winter months when root cellars are beginning to empty. It means having strategies for purchasing food seasonally, preserving it for winter use, developing seasonal menu plans and being committed to cooking and eating the food we have.

There is something very sustaining in knowing that I’m part of a community that is making a difference to people’s inner and outer environments. For me this means living in harmony with the world I live in and keeping connected to the Light that sustains and nourishes us all.



Additional Information:

Questions to guide the buying process:
1. Do we need it?
2. Is it in season? Does it fit with the current seasonal menu?
3. Is it available locally? Fresh or frozen
4. What is the price and availability of item? Does it meet our budget criteria?

Ecological Footprint factors:
1. What is the product?
a. Eg. Meat vs soy beans
2. How is it grown?
a. Organic vs natural vs conventional vs local, etc
b. Family farm vs mega farm
3. How is it processed?
4. How is it packaged?
5. Where is it grown?
6. How is it transported?

The ways Our Food Buying Policies Support

Environmental SustainabilityYasohara Ashram’s environmentally sustainable approach to food involves growing our own organic vegetables and fruit as a first priority, and then supplementing our food source by purchasing from local growers. We use a purchasing hierarchy. This approach has a positive and tangible effect on the local economy and environment.

The following purchasing information is an example of our sustainable approach:

What we buy Locally

Organic grains
Root vegetables
Organic tofu
Organic cheese
Fair trade organic locally roasted coffee
Free range eggs

What we buy from rest of BC & Alberta

Guests and people connected with our community bring these supplies when traveling to the Ashram

Wild Salmon
Organic legumes

Local Eastshore communities collectively place poultry orders with a Hutterite farm in southeastern Alberta. These are delivered by a farmer two or three times a year, and it is a festive event for the local community.

Straight From the Earth is our local organic delivery & distribution service, bringing organic produce from a central delivery station in Creston, BC, to communities on the Eastshore of Kootenay Lake. Organic food orders come weekly from Vancouver based Pro-Organics and Horizons


Related Links :

To watch Swami Radha’s Video on the Divine Light Invocation Click here
To watch the video “Waste=Food’ on sustainability
Click here
To watch the BC Environmentally Responsible Tourism Award recieved by Swami Radhanana
Click here
To listen to a radio interview with Satya on Sustainability at the local radio station Click here
To read about the Ashram’s latest sustainability project
Click here


  1. Satya…Thank you for this posting and for continuing to expand the efforts of the ashram towards sustainability. I have thought often of the ashram garden and my time in the greenhouse this spring as I tend to my own little plot here in the city. Food provides the nourishment that sustains our bodies, minds, spirits and communities….and it is the LIGHT that makes it all possible!

    In Light, In Community,

    Comment by Lena Soots — June 10, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  2. Namaste Satya,
    Enjoyed the article on inner and outer sustainably. A group of like-minded people in Cranbrook are trying this too. However, it can be a challenge, so we do our best. The list of purchasing criteria you provided is one I’ll share with others. Bringing that daily awareness to what we purchase to sustain ourselves and others, brings more gratitude for what I have here and the appreciation of the effort put into growing our own food, grinding Creston grain into flour for bread. Sharing and exchanging what we have with others creates a healthy community inside and out.

    Sharon Cross

    Comment by Sharon Cross — January 29, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

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