Exploring the Intersection of Yoga + Permaculture: Use and Value Renewable Resources

Breath: our most valued renewable resource.

Breath: our most valued renewable resource.

Caring for & respecting the earth is non-negotiable in sustaining our essence. Imagine how we would thrive as a collective if we were able to do well with what we do well. When we follow our path and dharma, we can actively draw on both internal and external resources to steward and sustain ourselves and our work. 

The 5th permaculture principle, Use & Value Renewable Resources, relates to both our inner and outer world. This principle encourages us to contemplate the essence of renewable resources. Consider the qualities of various energy sources. Electricity is a dispensable commodity, which is expensive & limited. Batteries are filling landfills with lead, mercury, nickel, and lithium, composing about 20% of the household hazardous waste in landfills. Sunshine, however, is ever present and all pervasive.  And although, at times, the sun is hidden behind clouds, every day, the sun rises, anew. 

Consider other literally renewable resources. Windy cities can feel harsh when the snow is blowing 70mph. Tornadoes can destroy villages and cause structures to topple. Yet, the same wind, when harnessed in wind mills can cause copper coils to turn creating friction, which is then stored as electricity. Similarly watermills create energy from the velocity of the water, storing energy to provide electricity to cities and villages. 

“The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg.” African proverb.

An NGO in West Africa created a Merry Go Round, which provides enough energy to charge the students’ lanterns. This is a win-win situation, as the experience of movement and joy can create a lasting light inwardly and outwardly. Since they have no electricity at home, this allows the children to continue to study in the evening after sunset.  

Entrepreneurial ventures are revolutionizing energy production and usage through innovative means, such as harnessing the energy of exercise machines at gyms, the pedal power of stationary bicycles and even car paint, which catches the solar energy to gain momentum.

When a resource is available and abundant, it is to be treasured. I participated in a 6 month primary health care outreach in Irian Jaya, bordering Papua New Guinea. My team of eight, along with our leader, ventured to villages where there are no doctors, setting up clinics under trees. We travelled by dug out canoes. I was shocked to discover that Nestle had targeted one astonishingly remote village, where 50 folks lived on wooden platforms, above the salty sea.  Nestle had made their way there to promote infant formula. Our aim was to provide treatment, and to focus on prevention and education. Mothers, living on pennies, were tempted to buy the soy formula, persuaded by the Nestle ads. We made it part of our mission to educate that “breast is best.” As long as it is necessary, breast milk is a nourishing, renewable resource, that comes from within the mother.While the formula is a concoction of processed, controversial ingredients, an artificial substitute, genuinely intended for when a mother is unable to breastfeed. This example is relatable to our own experiences, when the temptation to reach for imitations modeled by impermanent, fleeting, faulty images, overrules the truth and resources that exist within. When was the last time you looked outside yourself for something, bypassing your innate wisdom and access to energy? 

What other renewable resources can you think of? Imagine resources that are actually INCREASED with more use. That is truly a renewable resource to cherish. A beautiful example is our Breath. With pranyama practice, our breath actually gains depth and breadth. 

Love can also be considered a renewable resource. Consider how vast and wide true love is. “Love is as strong as death.” There is such a grand capacity in our hearts to love and be loved. Although great courage is necessary to truly open up to another human being and allow ourselves to be transparent, authentic and vulnerable, it is the greatest gift. Whether with an elderly relative, a lover, a brother or a friend, the miracle of giving and receiving the gift of love is the capacity for love to increase with use. 

“Between all the five elements, the fire from the sun, the wind, the water, the movements of the earth itself, and even potentially the energy found within negative ions in space, as quantum physics understands, we have a vast cornucopia of unlimited, renewable energy that can be provided for all the peoples of the earth. This is to relatively simple and inexpensive to harness, once the infrastructure is in place, especially compared to the types of destructive harvesting that we’re practicing today…It’s all friction, two forces rubbing together, like socks on a  carpet, creating a spark, like kisses, unlike combustion, which seems to be negative, because it destroys in order to create. But, from a yogic standpoint, such as the destruction of Shiva, destruction of negative emotionalities is brought about through a consistent relating with and understanding of them. Through this understanding, the friction with these negative qualities is lessened and can be released, rather than held onto by the very force of our aversion, in our drive to be free of them, like befriending our demons, we do not give into them, but rather know them so well that there is no shadow left to jump out of, and therefore nothing for them to hold onto and nothing for us to hold onto, so the true nature rises naturally”. ~ Breeze of Compassion, forest yogi ~

Think about the resources you expend and consider ways you can be more conscientious with your choices of how to use and conserve energy. Physically and spiritually, reflect upon the resources of your time and energy. What gives you life and increases your vitality and life force? What activities or habits leave you completely drained? How can you begin to use and value renewable resources today?

“Like oil in sesame seeds, like butter in cream, like water in springs, like fire in fire sticks, so dwells the Lord of Love, the Self, in the very depths of consciousness. Realize him through truth and meditation. The Self is hidden in the hearts of all, as butter lies hidden in cream. Realize the Self in the depths of meditation—the Lord of Love, supreme Reality, who is the goal of all knowledge” Shvetashvatara Upanishad 1.15-16. 

A yoga and meditation practice takes time and consistency to cultivate. Patanjali states in the Yoga Sutras that true practice must be regular, earnest & over a period of time. Even if you  arrive at your meditation cushion for ten minutes everyday, the regularity will have an impact on the quality of your thoughts. Thus, your minute by minute moments contain a beautiful quality, the present of true presence, the essence of awareness. Likewise, when you come to your mat with the intention to practice. Whether you are frustrated, angry, lonely or tired, when you make the decision to arrive as you are and value the potential of your inner renewable resources, your growth will be exponential.  

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