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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…

 

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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 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

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!!!

Many of our guests have read, glimpsed or purchased the Andrew Vietze book “Becoming Teddy Roosevelt” this season. Andrew won an independent publishing award for his writing on  How a Maine Guide Inspired America’s 26th President”. We never know who will come into our lives when and how we might inspire each other, not based on education, wealth, accomplishments or prestige but by true friendship. Guest Susan Hopp returned after an August stay, vowing to do Mt Katahdin. I joined her yesterday. When we got near the summit and lost the sun, but found wind and immersion in the clouds, I would have gladly, like other hikers that day told us they chose to do before descent, skipped the bit of snow and ice that were near the summit. But Ms Hopp made me go to the top- not by urging or bossing or bullying, but by example and enthusiasm. She was here all the way from San Francisco and bound to do the whole mountain, the one the Natives had called Great One, Ktaadan (it was spelled something like that). We were awestruck by the breath-taking views and reminisced about TR climbing without proper shoes. The story goes he lost a shoe so climbed the mountain (with my great grandfather Bill Sewall) in mocassins. We could hardly imagine it. At one point on the way down, maneuvering the boulders on the “easiest” trail, I simply lay down and started cracking up, as I looked up at Susan who exclaimed ” this is insane!” which made me laugh even harder. The beginning, which had seemed so comparatively easy, became gruelingly long, even though we were well past the boulders. Eventually we found our way back to the car and Cheryl, who had made it the first two hours of the hike and spent the rest of the day greeting hikers and looking for wildlife. We imagined Thoreau up there, not going to the summit, because he called it barren and only a space for God to occupy. And barren the summit had been, we lost the trees and slipped into what felt like another planet before going back down to the treeline. All in all an amazing day and all I can say..Is thank you Susan Hoppp for making me go to the top!!

 

And thank all of our great guests for making this another memorable season. We are now open ALL YEAR ROUND but do need advance notice to arrange happily for your retreats from NOV to APRIL.

We love introducing yoga lifestyle to curious newcomers, making yoga accessible at any and all levels, with the feeling of family and acceptance, no matter your age, size, experience or health issues. One guest, Denise, suggested we have a week for ” fat” people. A great idea! And we would love to get Cheryl back here to offer spiritual warrior women’s self defense, a passion of hers. I must also say that the standing yoga practices I have pursued since 1999- Astanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Dharmayoga (after doing only Kundalini since 1985) made my legs feel great today after the climb- when I did it in 1999 I remember them hurting for days! 

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Part of being here is learning about, enjoying, embracing nature and so today when a neighbor said he “had gotten rid of that woodchuck” I said nothing and hoped and prayed it was not OUR woodchuck, who plays with our cats and entertains our guests who see him/her chewing on grass outside the yoga studio, who sticks its head out to greet me in the morning ( at least that is how I interpret it when I am up before anyone else). Then we also had these sweet chirping chimney sweeps birds, who are endangered and leave in the cool weather..but we didn’t know. So we ran a fire and then I get a response from a website that says that may have killed them and I felt terrible, just awful, hoping and praying that they too are still alive..here we see the fragility of life and try our best to honor it. Meantime here are some fabulous photos from our most recent guests, grateful for each and every one of their presence here.

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