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The day had gone along quite well- not as enjoyable a start as walking to my Monday morning gig (yoga class) with a crescent moon smiling down on me in the morning darkness and sweet silent calm of New York City not yet awake. Today, at an equally early hour, the subway had arrived easily , the change station equally timely, always a factor of unknown consideration. After the 6:45 am class I walked into the bright chillness of a windy day, colder than usual for March but beautiful all the same, my wild goose chase errand of the day taking me to the Federal Plaza thirty first floor, only to come off the elevator to hallways full of locked office doors. I knocked on one, luckily a kind man answered, only to be sent to the nearby 290 Broadway, now my 3rd building in the chase that had begun the day before on William Street. Waiting on line in the cold I opted to sit for two hours in the warm waiting room after I finally got in the building, observing the Indian child staring gleefully into my eyes at it hung on its mother’s shoulder in front of me and the African American woman with a butterfly tattoo on her neck and a green sweater with black cats etched on it ( a woman after my own heart as I have butterfly symbols everywhere in my apartment and three cats, two which are black). I left a few numbers short of my number being called in the unpredictable wait. I wanted to make  a noon yoga class with beloved Dharmamittra, his classes my NYC escape of the day, a training ground for me since 1999. The time passed quickly, challenged and enlivened and leaving behind the smell of the homeless person that made me nauseous on the subway that took me to his class (they have been so bad of late and so many).

As I approached my building now, hungrily anticipating the kale and blueberry salad with walnuts and sunflower seeds I would make for lunch, I noticed a man come to the door behind me as it closed, already a signal not to respond, yet I did. He looked like an average guy, so average I doubt I would recognize him if I saw him again. I thought for some reason he might be trying to see someone in the building- stupid as that is what buzzers are for in secure buildings. Excitedly he explained that his kids were in a car on the next block (why did he not bring them along? he said the restaurant was watching them). He needed $32 to get gas from the nearby station and return the container afterward. That number hit me as a red flag for some reason but continue to engage I did. He gave me his “keys”, took my number and said he would return in twenty minutes. If I had time to think it through- return with what? My $40? Twenty minutes passed. I had been had. Scammer; I felt stupid but at the same time protected. He could have grabbed my wallet, had a weapon, been deranged like the smelly subway dweller. He did not luckily have any crucial information- only my business card, address and $40.

In the end I felt lucky. My day still hadn’t been all that bad.

It could have gone quite differently when I opened that door.

I am recovering from a cold, the kind of cold I might have gotten from  sitting outside last Sunday night and Monday noon at the same great little restaurant the Butcher’s Daughter, on Kenmare, that I had boycotted a few years back for terrible service. I never even tasted their yummy menu- the service was that slow. I am susceptible to drafts, that is what the vedic astrologer from LA affirmed when he did my chart recently via Skype (Jesse Gordon if you want to get a session with him).

Anyway, someone from my remote past who I knew through “hanging out” at Summer Solstice in New Mexico in the early 90’s was in town and after app studies ( I told him I am not an app person, how out-dated) and closed places we wanted to go on a Sunday night we ended up at Butcher’s Daughter, had a great young waiter from Serbia who told me how the owner had changed the staff to one that cared, he obviously did, and my old friend got me to try this place, which I might not have ever revisited without his persuasion. So you see things change. The service was great for lunch the next day too- and this time I even met the owner, who said he got more involved a year ago- and that showed! Showing up helps.

So the draft may have done it, the people sneezing and coughing on me on the trains, but I rather think, as a yogi, that Louise Hay is right and that mental confusion and a need to cry can cause a cold.

The vedic astrologer also told me I am going through and 7 and 1/2 year “phase” ( well a kind of hell- 2 more years to go yippee) and so, like the service at the restaurant, my life has changed. I am going through one of those life changes you would not wish on your worst enemy- and one that surprises many people, myself included. I am going through a brutal divorce from the person I thought was not only my life partner, but the person who had been my partner in the yoga vision of healing I had started at Sewall House before he came on board and we fell in love, calling it GOD that created this complementary union. Without blame to me or him,  let’s say that was true for a good while and has now come to a painful end, not easily and not swiftly. I am not in this other person’s shoes, heart or mind so I cannot say or figure out what happens- only that it does, that the Buddhists were right that the one constant is change and NEVER assume you know what is going on in someone’s life from the outside or even if you know them pretty well. ( or think you do ).

Life throws us curveballs, some of them very slow and painful, some fast and stinging, some wonderfully joyful and happily unexpected.  I have always been a seeker and searcher, which is why I am sure Kundalini Yoga appealed to me 30 years ago and why the vedic astrologer said it was good I found a spiritual path and teacher- Yogi Bhajan. I still haven’t found the answers, like that classic rock song I heard recently ” I still haven’t found what I am looking for.”  I have decided I may not be looking for anything really, just the experiences and the feelings and the challenge of meeting life with strength and vulnerability…and oh the astrologer , it turns out was at Solstice the year I went with my husband in 2007, years after I met my friend there in the early 90’s and ‘hung out”.  The yoga world and life really can come full circle. I am waiting for it. And my cold is getting better.

I cannot believe how I have been too busy to keep up with this personal blog..managing a very changing and challenging personal life, Sewall House and teaching in NY- plus my 3 wonderful kitties and working in animal rescue..here is the piece as published..thank you 3HO, my parent kundalini organization, for publishing this.. as I stand in my own small place in this big world and make an effort to raise awareness of the so called green which is actually sadly based on greed – the biologist and the PR guy both told me that they do yoga ( from First Wind) I wonder if they know the principles I speak about in this article.

diversity can be so challenging when your heart cries for others…

 

You are here

 

On Becoming an Environmental Activist: My Mission to Save the Eagles

By Donna Amrita Davidge

In the 1980’s I had the blessing to discover Kundalini Yoga. My teacher quickly told me I must meet Yogi Bhajan, who gave me my spiritual name in person. He based our names on our birthday. He wrote mine on a tiny slip of paper, 1/15/55, and said, as he gave me the name Amrita, “Princess of the Nectar of God, very special name.” This (1/15/55) happens to be the birthdate of Martin Luther King and Joan of Arc, and in my numerology I am told I stand for justice.

A Family Legacy

After teaching Kundalini Yoga for twelve years I had the opportunity to save a family legacy. Albeit it a small slice of American history, it meant a great deal to me. As I researched my roots I found that my ancestors, the Sewalls, had come over on the Mayflower. But it was the tiny town in northern Maine with its the pristine seven mile long lake, with eagles soaring, loons singing in the night, beavers swimming by and billowy unimaginably beautiful clouds and dramatic thunderstorms that I had a particular affinity for.

My mother, like Henry David Thoreau (who some call the first American yogi), loved the lessons and solitude in nature, so we spent each summer in a tiny isolated cabin only reachable five miles down the lake by boat. I played with imaginary friends and drew etchings on large mushrooms with wooden match sticks. My mother read me Little Women by kerosene lamp. We slept on old Army canvas cots in sleeping bags. (Years later when I started going to solstices in 1989, camping was no issue for me.)

My great grandfather had been the first non-Native American child born in this tiny town, which his family and one other settled in 1845, the year he was born. His family made a beautiful home in 1860, which took five years to build—a sturdy well planned three story Colonial farm home.

A Harvard student was told he must visit my great grandfather who, as a nature guide, shared much of what he had learned living amidst the Natives. When he arrived at the home, the awkward nearly blind frail student felt like one of the family,

My great grandfather told his children the house was built on honor and people felt that. The young student had suffered from lifelong serious asthma. Climbing Mt. Katahdin and other treks into the woods to meet the loggers strengthened his body and spirit. A lifelong friendship was forged between these two men, unlikely as it was—so much so that my great grandfather was at the inauguration of this friend, Theodore Roosevelt, when he became the President of the United States.

There is much more to the story (see the book Becoming Teddy Roosevelt: How a Maine Guide Inspired America’s 26th President) but suffice it to say that I cared deeply to keep this home in the National Historic Registry, alive. I purchased it in 1997, after it sat empty for 18 months when my great Aunt, who was born in and loved the home, passed away at 101 in the home she loved.

On a wing and a prayer, yogic principles, and a great love for nature, Maine and the healing aspects of Kundalini Yoga, I opened the home as a small yoga retreat eighteen years ago. Fast forward to three years ago when I spent a night at the cabin, which still stands. Singing the words, “This life of mine has been blessed” from Snatam Kaur’s music, I truly felt it that morning. Despite the challenges and rewards of the years Sewall House still survived under my stewardship.

The Email that Changed My Life

I arrived home to find an email that changed my life forever. I had heard about the wind turbines that would be put up in the next town, how huge and fascinating they were lying on the ground, but until this email I took little interest in seeing them or what they were about.

The email said that 80% of Lake Mattawamkeag would see the red flashing lights at night from these monstrous industrial machines; as well as the fact that they emitted audible and low frequency noise that disturbed human sleep and health badly; as well as the havoc they wreaked with wildlife. Bats, already endangered by white nose disease, would burst their lungs when near the blades! Eagles wings would be chopped off, damaged or the birds themselves sliced in half by the blades.

My heart sank, my mind was beyond disturbed.

Becoming an Activist

This is my story of becoming a spiritual activist in a battle wrought with lies and deceptions.

Was I to stand silent watching this place I loved and the creatures I loved destroyed by a greed scheme? I learned quickly that the purest of intentions are thwarted by power and greed and those willing to lie to relentlessly get what they want; still I had to act. I began to research more about the turbines and discovered a Wind Task Force in the state, still just a speck beside the monies poured into Obama’s campaign that was rewarded with the subsidies and Production tax credits to destroy our forests and human and wildlife.

I spoke to communities and individuals who had gone through the same thing, most losing and some winning by enacting wind ordinances in their towns. I brought the documentary Windfall to Island Falls, as well as a guest speaker from another small town that successfully enacted a wind ordinance. The public was so misinformed and so willing to sell out, needing money in these hard times and believing the lies of the wind companies, who say they are not harmful to human or animals.

I decided to speak first hand with people throughout the area who had suffered from them, finding some had been silenced by payoffs and gag orders where they could say nothing even if made ill by them. The more I learned the less integrity I saw in our politicians and the wind company, run by an Enron CEO. They did not care who they hurt or lied to.

I wrote letters to editors, commented on many articles, testified at hearings and created a nonprofit for our cause called Protect Our Lakes. I was interviewed on radio and approached by local television. I also had those opposing me saying slanderous things on Facebook and elsewhere. Yet I still stood for what I believed to be the way of integrity and used my voice for this.

A Warrior Spirit

The more I learned, worldwide as well as locally, the more I felt strongly in my heart that this was the way of ahimsa (nonviolence) and satya (truth). I had not asked for this position. There seemed to be no choice. My almost thirty years of yoga and meditation is what helped me through the anxiety of the situation—the disbelief that this murder could occur with such lies and manipulation, as has been the case throughout history.

Yogi Bhajan spoke often of the importance of legacy. As a yogi I believe strongly in the importance of standing up for reverence for life, for all of God’s creatures and that my existence is finite but that the future of the planet depends on something other than lies to play on people’s fears about energy sources. In this article I can barely skim the topic so I refer you to another article I wrote [The Answer My Friend is Blowing in the Wind: page 6 of this pdf].

When the wind company PR person and the biologist both called me and told me they did yoga and asked me what they could do for me, I said nothing. Yoga has become an exercise, not something where people even know what Namaste means or what a yama or niyama is. These men thought that would make me feel on common ground with them.

One said I was simply uncomfortable with change. He did not know me, did not know that I have had a lot more changes in my life than many, changes that brought me full circle to the family home and its healing legacy.

Yogi Bhajan taught us so much, He emphasized over and over again to take our commotion and convert it to devotion. I became devoted to a cause that tore deeply into my heart. He taught us to use our anger to fuel positive purposes, not the kind of power Obama has displayed by signing a bill to allow eagles to be murdered for the next 30 years as much as the wind companies want, while we are fined $2500 for killing them.

Is this integrity? I call it arrogance of the human being—and I have devoted the last three years of my life to prevent them from going over our lakes. They have dynamited the hills as I write; they will destroy the wildlife and clearcut the pristine forest, as they have already started to do.

I live with my warrior spirit, even as a warrior does not win every battle. I thank God for Yogi Bhajan, his teachings and his legacy, which I continue to share with students who know not the battle I have fought or the tears I have shed over this cause, so misunderstood by so many. When people do not believe me or ask what is the alternative, all I know is what is happening is inefficient, destructive and paved with lies. That is the answer I know. I can only speak my truth with the goal of non-harming.

Donna Amrita Davidge has been teaching Kundlaini Yoga since the mid 80’s in New York City at Kundalini Yoga East and presently at Golden Bridge, as well as other places like the Open Center. She spends nearly six months of the year at www.sewallhouse.com in northern Maine which has been featured in much press and ranked high as a healing home for those in transition sharing yoga lifestyle and teaching. www.donnadavidgeyoga.com

During Sandy I was in NYC at our apartment in Little Italy, where I have lived since 1988 and in this apartment since 1990 when not in Maine.

It has seen many NY memories and moments. This is my poem written after Kent left to check on Sewall House and a day before we got back

power:

Hurricane Sandy Observations of a Ghost Town

Doomsday he said half jokingly

Depart with me

Sirens the only sound

Occasional voices in the dark

Where you dare not venture

Quieter and quieter as the days past

During daylight

Free Food from Fancy Stores

The $10.99 green juice  FREE

Avocado and figs             FREE

Buttery croissants from Gitane   FREE

The blind kitty climbs in the windowsill

Let the cool air in

She pleas

Walking 5 miles a day

to see activity

+ power

in the same city

Returning to your ghost town

Dark at night

Like the country sky

Quieter than the country

No crickets

No sound

Little Life

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If you are a yoga retreat guest or someone coming to our site for the first time this is my personal musings..for news and things about the retreat please go to the blog at the top of the website homepage..meantime here is a bit more education about the personal challenge I am facing, we all have them,  and maybe something that is educational if you think wind energy is green….. This was printed in the Bangor Daily News along with some other stories of the Great One..thanks for reading..and to learn more go to wind watch or Maine Wind Task Force online or see the movie WINDFALL available on DVD.

ImageDonna Sewall Davidge of Island Falls relates what the natural beauty and history of Katahdin means to her and her family.

Mount Katahdin means the “Great One,” as the Indians called it. It rises majestically as you view it from the scenic overlook on I-95 or from various points in Island Falls, where Theodore Roosevelt started from when he climbed it. It means wilderness and wildlife and, thanks to the vision of Mr. Baxter, it meant preserving it for Maine and its people.

When Theodore Roosevelt climbed it, he was with my great grandfather William Sewall. It means a lot to me to keep the tradition alive — of friendship that can be made in nature, which doesn’t judge you for what you have or who you know. Nature treats all equally.

Involved in the battle to keep the wind turbines from harming our wildlife and hilltops viewed from Mount Katahdin, I never thought the day would come that the area is so jeopardized. Even if [natural landscape] is ruined nearby (if a miracle happens, the people of Maine may wake up and rise up and say, “Please do not change the way of life we have known all these years.”) the mountain will remain unchanged, even as everything around it does not remain the same. If [Katahdin] had a voice it might cry out, “What are you doing to the brothers and sisters I look out at every day? What is the blasting and the machines as high as skyscrapers? What purpose will they make? How will they serve my beautiful land and woods?”

I climbed Katahdin 1999 and again in 2010. The second time, I was with a guest who returned to my great grandfather’s home in Island Falls, where we host people as he did. She was determined to climb Katahdin. She had climbed mountains as far away as Ecuador and lived in California. I always say Susan Hopp made me go to the top. It was a glorious October day. I so hope and pray the next time she returns we will have the same views, free of industrial wind turbines that would ruin our experience of nature.”

Besides teaching and studying yoga, balancing New York City students, some I have had since the late 80’s-early 90’s!, and our wonderful  retreat guests in our wonderful historic home in Maine, my time has been consumed seeing if we can preserve the highly ranked lakes near our retreat.( the header is the view from our cabin 5 miles down the lake) The lakes will still be there but the wind farm will ruin so much of the wildlife and natural beauty that I have to do what I can..if you think Wind Is Green and Good so did most of us when we started. It has become very confusing because environmental groups have even obviously received monies (by the way, our tax dollars are subsidizing this) to say wind is good..even organizations like Audobon, who should be most concerned for the life of the birds. Jim Wiegand from Berkeley has been studying the impact of wind turbines on birds and none of it is good..carcasses of birds and bats are found under turbines in numbers. The companies argue birds hit windshields. I still cannot support  that way of thinking, They have lied to people in Vinylhaven and other parts of Maine to get what they want and once they do, they either pay them off or force them to leave their once peaceful and pristine homes. Maine- the way life should be. What happened to their motto? These turbines require blasting into hills that are untouched for thousands of years, clear cutting 5 acres of beautiful forest for each turbines, the low frequency noise and the audible noise drives the creatures from their homes as well..and see the movie Windfall for an example of the impact on humans and more..it will NOT get us off fossil fuel..as a matter of fact, it requires back up because it is so intermittent..want to learn more? Google Wind watch, Save the eagles or Wind Task Force. We have appealed the DEP, the BEP and watch the corruption of the expedited wind law that Angus King and Baldacci should be persecuted for – acting as if the beauty of rural Maine does not matter and sneaking in to the towns before they knew what hit them. True, some people are apathetic- true, the ones against them have personally told me they don’t want to lose their friends so say nothing..but we will do what we can as we always do. Yoga lifestyle means living your truth with courage and clarity and strength and grace. It is not simply about asana.

As T.R. , (while has was at Harvard) who trekked these woods and lakes for 3 fall expeditions with my great grandfather William Sewall while staying at Sewall House, said:

“Nobody knows how much you know until they know how much you care”

and as one of my beloved NY students wrote me yesterday knowing the challenge I am dealing with

“Everything will be all right in the end and if its not alright it will not be the end”

It is the yoga principle of ahimsa, non harming or nonviolence, that I feel deeply when fighting the fight of the wind warrior..for all the life taken for the cause, whether it be trees, birds or frogs..

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/11/news/augusta/bep-rejects-appeal-of-50-turbine-oakfield-wind-f%5Bslideshow%5D

This is my personal blog- the retreat blog is on the top of the webpage.

 

So DEP turned a deaf ear to the beautiful letters written and the comments made about the damage First Wind will create over and around our beautiful untouched lakes in a proven low wind area- logic is not prevailing here, sadness fills every cell of my being- and messages come from unexpected places to assure us of who we are.

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thanks Michael for sending this with your payment for Kent’s wonderful peanut butter that you ordered:

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening the circle of compassion and understanding to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”..Albert Einstein

Friday was the last day we could provide comments to the DEP for their sad form draft permit for the 50 45 story wind turbines overlooking our historic highly ranked lakes which are wildlife preserves..for eagles, bats, loons and enjoyed by humans who love the tranqulity and healing of nature-in the last monet the Sierra Club wrote them saying this is the wrong place ..will our DEP protect the Wind Companies or the people of Maine ands those who enjoy our part of Maine? this link tells it all
http://www.masterresource.org/2012/01/turned-against-windpower/
donations accepted as we continue our legal battle..
http://www.protect-our-lakes.org/Protect-Our-Lakes/Home.html

THANK YOU!!!

Infants Gravestones 1860's

One sunny day this summer our neighbor Fred, the head of the Cemetery Committee in Island Falls, drove in to our driveway with something in a small trailer pulled behind his ATV. He walked to our door, knocked and asked if I knew anything about the contents. I did not. But I could speculate. The dates and the names of the parents determined that these were infants that had been born to my great grandfather’s older brother. They died 12 days apart, brother and sister, in October, likely the victims of a flu or, worse yet, diphtheria, that they had somehow shared with each other. The stones had been found in the barn of an older neighbor whose estate was being auctioned off; mysterious the things we store in our closets, so to speak, the secrets we all carry that only are in the halls of our own mind. No, I did not know their story. But seeing these little tombstones my heart and mind recollected a time where life was more uncertain, where we were held more in the grips of the whims of nature, whether it be weather or disease. We have never truly escaped this grip, even with modern medicine and weathermen. Perhaps we experience it more now in a different way by the way we treat our environment and each other, I wonder. Little ones, rest in peace. (age 1- little LEVI GONE ON TO A BETTER LAND, obviously named for his grandfather, my great great grandfather and age 4-DANCING IN HEAVEN MARY ANNIE).

For years now I have spoken about ” writing a book” , have purchased books on writing and on publishing books, even had the courage to take a spiritual memoir class this Spring. With childlike trepidation I read the first two pages to the class, who responded with at least curiosity.  The teacher said he would read 10 pages if anyone wanted him to. I jumped on the opportunity, giving him the part about leaving my first marriage to escape in to my own (selfish?) search in Europe etc etc etc blah blah blah, which is pretty much what he thought of it- “nothing there”. Ouch, I (it) might not be as interesting as I thought! These day so many people in yoga have had these “journeys”( ie The Poser- Eat, Pray . Love, neither of which I can judge because I have not read them but they ARE best sellers) . Is mine really all that interesting?

My nephew wrote me a note when I was 40, thanking me for attending his wedding,  writing (and he writes spectacularly) that I looked like the main character from some Argentinian novel whose life resembles Angela’s Ashes; I was touched by his insightful observation. It sounds so dramatic but it is relatively true. I have had an adventurous and varied life, as someone said to me recently, deliberate. A story like mine seems it should have a different outcome. We could call it..at first you don’t succeed (wow it took me ten tries to type that word, is it Freudian or WHAT?)..or we could call it, well, I cannot tell that story here.

Life nectar is now my personal blog, not my yoga teacher blog, not the Sewall House blog(that you can find now in our menu) so from time to time I will muse on life or little stories.

An agent in NYC that my friend Paul kindly referred me to (much more useful than a cold call) said my idea had merit – in the rejection e-mail an assistant took the time to write. I think that was actually encouraging, though I did not take it that way at the time.

My 96 year old father says he wants to complete his memoirs; I wonder if either of us will.

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