Exploring the Intersection of Yoga + Permaculture: Apply Self Regulation & Accept Feedback


We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

The 4th permaculture principle, Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback, can be applied to our work, relationships and yoga practice. Self regulation means implementing a life of moderation and always involves an honest assessment of the alignment of our values and our actions. Accepting feedback implies a level of teachability, transparency, honesty and humility. Openness to change and growth necessitates a humble heart, and requires an understanding of the realization of our own brilliance and beauty, which is a gift to the world.

My friend, who is a talented singer and songwriter Heatherlyn, was moved by the condescending voice of the masses when others succeed: “Well don’t you just think you are God’s gift to the world.” Tempted to allow walls to build and cynicism to escalate, she came to the realization of our own uniqueness as an offering to others. ”Wow, I am God’s gift to the world!” It’s important to look at criticism through the lens of an inquisitive spiritual eye in order to recognize  the revelation of truth in every situation. This is a truth expressed similarly by Marianne Williamson: 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  

Being able to receive constructive criticism is a skill and a gift, which can be leveraged to transform challenging criticism  into luscious liberation. As shared by Thich Naht Hahn: “When we look deeply at a flower, we can see that it is made entirely of non-flower elements, like sunshine, rain, soil, compost, air, and time. If we continue to look deeply, we will also notice that the flower is on her way to becoming compost. If we don’t notice this, we will be shocked when the flower begins to decompose. When we look deeply at the compost, we see that it is also on its way to becoming flowers, and we realize that flowers and compost “inter-are.” They need each other. A good organic gardener does not discriminate against compost, because he knows how to transform it into marigolds, roses, and many other kinds of flowers.” 

Ten years ago, I studied jazz, ballet and modern dance. I began this study at 27, which can be considered to be way too old to start dancing. However, I remember visiting my friend Vern’s home and noticed a plethora of exquisite paintings throughout the house, and assumed  they were painted by the same artist. I asked Vern’s mother about the artistand she said, “Those are all Vern’s grandmother’s paintings. Guess how old she was when she started painting?” With a question like that, I’d have to guess either she was 4 or 44. Seventy seven! She was 77 years old when she STARTED painting. Imagine the wear and tear on her eyes at that age, however there was no doubt of the intense inner sight and radical warm wisdom expressed on the canvas. Learn to accept not only the feedback that you are getting too old, too gray, too chubby, but also remember the feedback, “I am never too old to begin again.” In my dance training, I learned that if the teacher calls out a correction in class to a specific student, it is a compliment. Namaste, he or she sees you. Let the essence of your soul shine. Living in love leads to loving living.

Accepting feedback is a key ingredient for personal growth and community building. When we accept feedback and grow, our capacity for collaboration and connection is enhanced. Collaboration emphasizes connection and the desire for collective success rather than competition.. How can you step into collaboration in the most effective way? Do you resist feedback when it comes your way?  What is the root of your resistance? Examining what is at the root of your resistance will increase your awareness of your edges and help to dissolve the rigidity that occurs in response to feedback.

This permaculture principle invites us to analyze the nature of our consumption and the reality of our resources. How much do you actually need? What is your definition of need and how can you acquire these necessities in a sustainable way with  integrity? In our yoga practice, we are constantly becoming aware of balance and find ways to adjust and micro-adjust accordingly with care in each pose. How can you apply this same delicate balance to realign the resources of your time, energy, skills, study and finances? How does your lifestyle reflect the permaculture values of earth care, people care & fair share? 

In what ways can you accept the feedback the earth is speaking regarding global warming, deforestation, and pollution? What is your reply to the voices raising awareness about exploitation, malnutrition and injustice? Are you actively, authentically listening to both the subtle words and the language of movement surrounding you on an individual and collective level?

Rather than repeating the same cycles leading to despair or disappointment, consider how you can find liberation and a clean slate today. Abundance occurs when we live with defined goals, discipline and a teachable heart. In permaculture design, the aim is that systems will eventually self regulate, saving time and energy with little maintenance and exponential productivity. In your own life, what kind of foundation can you build, which allows for energy to freely flow, bringing a productive glow to your inner life, radiating to the outside world, improving with time and practice? How can you create transformation with creativity and brilliance? Permaculture teaches that the problem is the solution. Co-creator of the permaculture concept, Bill Mollison, stated regarding pesky pests, “You don’t have a slug problem, you have a duck deficiency.” How can you shift your paradigm to align with your purpose and potential? 

~ Arli ~ 

more awesome permie info on this principle here: https://permaculture.org.nz/content/principles-self-regulation-feedback

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