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Inner Climate Change

September 18, 2009 by Satya

Tara-&-SatyaSatya, a resident of Yasodhara Ashram reflects on the practice of sustainability as a way of putting her spiritual values into action. She shares the work that the Ashram is doing to reduce our carbon footprint and ways we can connect with the sacred in the environment and our minds.

A few days ago the Ashram community watched “Fierce Light”—an inspiring documentary about putting spirituality into action.  It is a call to act in this world from a place of love and compassion—to take the inspiration that comes from spiritual practices and act on it.  For me the Ashram is an example of this link between spirituality and action.  I have lived at the Ashram and Radha Centres for over eighteen years.  Everyday the practice of karma yoga calls on me to put my ideals into action, to live them and not just have lofty ideas that sound or feel good.  It’s not easy, it requires me to face myself at the gut level—to be real and honest with others and myself.  I have come to love this kind of honesty, it inspires me when I see it in others and makes me celebrate it when I see it in myself.


Sw. Sivananda & Alanda Greene take a ride in our electric car

One way the Ashram is putting spiritual values into action is with our environmental sustainability work.  Working towards being carbon neutral and living sustainably helps develop awareness, which is an essential practice of yoga.  It’s a link between spirituality and action—acting on what we know.

In the spring I entered into the Ashram’s carbon neutral work.  My experience these past three years has been mainly with our food sustainability initiatives—working in the Ashram organic garden and establishing relationships with local growers.  Using our own food and purchasing from local growers has significantly lowered the carbon emissions from transporting food to the Ashram.

A year ago the Ashram set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2013.  Gord McGee, a 2008 Yoga Development Course participant, developed a carbon neutral plan and inventory for the Ashram.  Karma yogis collected data about the Ashram’s carbon emissions from such sources as vehicles, propane, electricity, refrigeration, oil, air travel, employee vehicle commuting, etc.  This carbon inventory provides a way to keep track of how we are moving towards our goal.  It’s an accounting system that involves reducing carbon emissions and off-setting those that we are not able to reduce or eliminate entirely—like guest travel emissions.  It is a way to make decisions and to be accountable for our actions.  For individuals or families there are many simple carbon inventories available now on the web  www.safeclimate.net

The world faces a huge challenge to make changes the way we interact with the earth and each other.  It’s a time when a radical change in consciousness is needed.  Unless change happens quickly in reducing carbon emissions worldwide, leading scientists predict that there will be “runaway climate change”.


Vista of Ashram garden

I know from my experience with yoga that it’s important to keep bringing what is happening back to myself and to reflect about what it means to me in my life.  There is a reality that something is happening ‘out there’.  But there is another reality—my inner climate.  My thoughts, speech and actions are the place where real, long-lasting change takes place – it’s changing my attitude, beliefs, habits and conditioning that makes a difference.  Recently I began a practice of repeating the Divine Mother prayer throughout the day.  The words are in my mind as I harvest food and take care of the plants.  When I get caught up in something I’m doing and let the prayer slip from my mind then I interact with my environment in a different way.  I’m not as aware and I become susceptible to being reactive rather than responsive. When the prayer comes to mind again, I notice a change in my ‘inner climate’.  There’s space to breathe, my thoughts are connected to what’s happening in the present and I’m more aware that my actions have consequences.  There’s a connection with the sacredness of life.

The Divine Mother Prayer This beautiful prayer offers a way to bring the sacred into action.

Green Tara sitting on the porch of the Divine Mother room enjoying the September sunshine

Green Tara sitting on the porch of the Divine Mother room enjoying the September sunshine

O Divine Mother
May All my speech and idle talk be mantra
All actions of my hands be mudra
May all eating and drinking be the offering of oblations unto Thee
All laying down prostrations before Thee
May all pleasures be as dedicating my entire self unto Thee
May everything I do be taken as Thy worship








Here are some ways that you can take action and join Yasodhara Ashram’s climate change initiatives:

  1. Repeat the Divine Mother Prayer 25 times a day for forty days
  2. Measure your carbon footprint www.safeclimate.netcarbonfund.org; eatlowcarbon.org; myfootprint.org
  3. Join the Ashram’s 350.org Divine Light Action Event. Contact satya@yasodhara.org for more information
  4. Sign the Charter of Compassion at www.charterforcompassion.com


  1. I attended the sustainability session of the AGM and found it encouraging. I want to keep it present in my everyday life so it is good to hear what others are doing.

    At the church I attend, the children have been interested in the environment for a few years. Two years ago they wrote letters to the mayor asking him to support greener technology. They have planted seeds of the church’s Japanese Maple tree in small pots and are cultivating them. They hope to sell them and donate the money to the Heifer Project.

    I suggested that we, as a church, focus on recycling. The city has a recycling program that is quite extensive. Members of the church will bring in cans and bottles that have CRV (cash refund value) and once a month we will take them to the recycle center. The money will go to the children’s Heifer Project Fund.

    The church women who make the banners for the altar have decided to make shopping bags with extra fabric and give them away at church services to encourage use of multi-use bags – or rather to discourage one time use of plastic and paper bags.

    It is exciting to see people “making a difference”. They feel empowered.

    Comment by Mary Ruth Green — September 24, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

  2. What a lovely and useful article, Satya.

    I measured my carbon footprint! Very interesting–we would need 3.7 earths if everyone lived like me–and I am below average for Canada. This is truly a wake-up moment.

    Keep up the good sustainability work. I look forward to participating in the challenge in 2010.

    Carol Collier

    Comment by Carol Collier — September 28, 2009 @ 6:30 am

  3. Thanks for the great article Satya!

    Comment by Monica — October 1, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

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