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Jen Reviews- 18 scientifically proven benefits of yoga


I roll over, grab the phone- 4 AM, the usual time.
I gaze out the window to see if it is semi dark, the shortening of the days.
I roll over again, hoping sleep will grab me.
This morning a vision of a man, the dream so clear, the energy so eery.
Gustaf, the kitten that did not come in last night, in the periphery of my dream.
This man incessantly stabbing someone in a bed.
When I reawaken at 5:30 AM it is vivid, all parts remembered.
As I reach to pet my black cat at the foot of the bed, the dream escapes me.
I get up into my time of the day, on rare occasion another may be up.
My job of greeting the day begins; most days it is my time of utter peace,
despite the activity of brewing coffee, making granola or yoga tea, stepping out onto the morning grass to take the compost out, greet the cats, feed the cats,
Sit and breathe the peace of solitude, which I sip in with my morning coffee.IMG_1253




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 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…


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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 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.

As we enter the winter holiday season I am reminded of the walk we took last winter with the guest from Wisconsin, who it turned out was a wind engineer looking to leave the industry because of the way its ethics had changed when she got in 10 years ago idealistic about its possibilities (coincidence and she took this photo) who said, when she saw where the turbines would be over out lakes, “Anyone in the wind industry knows that is the worst place to put wind turbines, the most intermittent availability in in wooded hilly areas”. So First Wind and Baldacci and Angus King must know this too but do they care? We fought our case in court WED DEC 12 and now are fighting their ability to get  a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers based on the endangered lynx and eagles in our area. Honestly we wish TR were here to help us fight this corruption. We are sure he would:


Wind is a concept we had to consider if we were going to take the silver aluminum clunker canoe out on the lake. Wind was a concept we also had to consider if we were to take our 14 foot also silver aluminum boat out on the lake to go to town to get supplies or  if uptown getting supplies, to keep an eye on to see if the wind was bringing in a fast thunderstorm, in which case our boat became a lightning rod. Mother instilled the fear of God into us about taking the boats out in lightning or even if it looked like it might lightning. And it could come up fast. Definitely we could not go out when it was very windy, which was mostly the autumn when we were back in school in Connecticut.

Sometimes, laying in the quiet, the dead quiet of night, at the cabin 5 miles away from anything and anyone I could hear the wind rustling in the trees. It was a beautiful sound, reassuring and haunting at the same time. When my mother hinted that she might sell the log cabin, built by her cousin when he was a young man of 30 and his father, I whispered to her “Please, no, mom, that place is my soul.” I was not one given to whispering but at that moment I wanted to sound like those beautiful leaves speaking to me in the night or watching me in their movement in the early morning, warning me in the afternoon that I

had to move the boat in to the cove to keep it from slamming on the rugged rocky shore in front of the cabin. My mother loved the cabin as much as I did so it must have relieved her to know that one of her offspring actually cared. Our relationship had been a complicated one but we had one thing in common- a love for nature, for Maine and for the total healing and spirituality of it all. My sister had long ago escaped to California, moving there right out of college in the Midwest and never returning East except for visits. My brother, institutionalized for mental problems in the 60’s, would never function in the “real” world ever again even though he lived in a halfway house in Hartford, went back to live with my parents, who then bought him his own condo as they approached the inevitable.

Who would have thought, when I took a leap of faith and purchased my great grandparents’ homestead “uptown” (since their amazing lake property and tourist business had been sold out from under our family with no warning by a relative who could no longer keep it going and, for whatever reason, didn’t think to ask the family for help) that the wind would become my enemy? Not the wind itself exactly, but the people who greedily claimed they could use this intermittent energy to create electricity for people outside of Maine, outside of our State? What sense did that make? To blast our hills, to kill and scare off our wildlife, to ruin our topography forever, the one Henry David Thoreau and Theodore Roosevelt wrote about, the Maine woods, forever? Who would have thought, when I decided to make decidedly unlikely and irrational go of a retreat for the weary city dweller, a place where the industrialized views and sounds of progress were so very far away that people always commented “ I had no idea you were so far away from everything” “ It took forever to get here but boy was it worth it”, that we would be fighting this wind battle? Not I. Fifteen years in to putting our all into it, people had come from all over the United States and even rarely from another country- England, Finland, Holland- it seemed to be actually working. My Swedish husband and I had been married in the backyard in 2003, good reviews came in from the press and individuals. Season by season we managed to keep it going- putting all we made back into it- wallpapering, insulating, replacing mattresses, upgrading appliances, bit by bit making it better and better for our guests, who were amazing people looking for some silence, some beauty and some solace in their lives. And remarkably they found us.

And even more remarkably it worked.

We had issues with the local factory, which supported the town. Located nearby us it emitted a 24-7 hum. We knew the perils of noise pollution. One manager was brashly rude at my requests to see what they could do about it. Eventuallu another manager came on board who worked with us, decreasing the sound so it was more tolerable. They had been laying people off for a few years, only employed 75 anyway,  then finally closed. We learned here about big corporations and how challenging it was to get anywhere with them. When the factory closed it was sad for the town but we found our silence, which was much better for our purpose.

Then the dry town became a wet one. What were the chances? Since the town of Island Falls was founded by my great great grandparents the Sewalls and the Craigs in 1845, the town had been dry. In 2004 the old library, the beautiful big old green Nina Sawyer building, became a bar. The first few years it was civilized and contained. Then it became a rowdy crowd, with blaring bands on the weekends and booming bass sounds from the jukebox other nights. People had fights on the street, screaming and hooting and pealing out. I went on a mission  calling the State Police, became partners with another neighbor who argued with the town that this violated the existing noise ordinance, only to meet with the bar owners’ wife screaming at me at town meetings that I was the one who tried to close the starch factory (not true). The neighbor and I joined forces, the two Donnas, calling the selectman in the middle of the night and the authorities. The more reports we had in the more they were likely to listen. Eventually they closed; Mismanagement we had heard, also the possibility of some illegal activities, though never proven. Once again we had won the dead silence. And our business survived somehow miraculously.

Things come in threes. This one was bigger than the others. When the other two were happening I thought nothing else could be worse- and what were the odds of any disturbances in this quiet hamlet off the beaten path, population less than 800?  It was like going back in time, people waving at you as they took their daily walk or drove by, friendly hellos at the post office and small talk about the weather, always something to watch in a beautiful nature filled spot like Island Falls. My great grandparents had settled there for the beauty of the location, a tiny island sandwiched in between the rushing river water we called the “falls”. Their first home had been just opposite the falls, now the Briarpatch Gift and Flower shop, one of the few businesses surviving in Island Falls.

Soon, all too soon, we were to face this warp in time, this never changing simplicity, as going forward in to a destruction I could never have fathomed would come this far north or to any part of our pristine parts. And my heart was feeling cracked every day, as many other hearts had cracked in Lincoln, where views of Mt Katahdin and lakes now saw skyscraper sized wind turbines, whooshing when they worked, though their efficiency was low, sounding like a helicopter or airplane where once the deer and moose heard only silence and the natives viewed only breathtaking scenery like Mount Katahdin, which meant the Great One in the Native tongue. In Mars Hill, adjacent to homes and the ski slope, 25 of the monsters did their damage. In the name of what? Who will listen to our pleas when the sounds of the wind turbines change our wildlife and our lives forever?Image


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