Nunavut News: Environmental Activism, Northern-Style

 
 

Environmental activism, Northern-style

Iqaluit elders and youth share in international awareness tour

by Emily Ridlington Northern News Services Nunavut

Many students said they’d never seen anything like it before. Not many folks in Nunavut are willing to sport a gold jumpsuit and gold boots complete with headdress and sing in front of an entire school to a mix of techno and futuristic-sounding music combined with musical theatre, all in the name of environmental activism. This is exactly what students experienced at Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School at the end of last month. “I thought it was cool and unique,” said Grade 11 student Emily Kenneally. She was in the audience when Toronto-based singer-songwriter and yoga practitioner Parvati, along with a couple of other guests, came to perform at the school and raise awareness about how important it is to protect the environment.

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Students clapped and danced along as Parvati sang some of her original songs including You’ve Gotta Believe, a tune about how the world is interconnected. She had just come from Resolute. Accompanied by her husband, Rishi Gerald, and environmental activist Satish Sikha, the trio unveiled to the students part of a one-kilometre-long piece of handwoven silk, on which Sikha has been gathering positive environmental messages from all over the world for the last two years. He said dignitaries and people from all walks of life have contributed, including Iqaluit city councillor Simon Nattaq, who wrote a message in Inuktitut. Gerald said while in Iqaluit, the trio also made a presentation to the community’s elders. He said the elders told him they have hope for the future of the environment because children are much more educated and that there are things such as recycling. While the format of the presentation may have been something students did not expect, the message certainly hit home. “The message I think is very important, it is to be true to yourself and be true to the Earth,” said Grade 11 student Christine Tootoo. She said she tries to make an effort at home and at school to recycle and shut off the lights every time she leaves the room. She does not litter and she said she tries her best to tell others as well. Listening to Tootoo, Grade 9 student Simonie Alainga said he should try harder at protecting the environment and Parvati’s presentation made him think about the future and what the Arctic will look like as it is being affected by global warming. For Kenneally, the future is now. “Look at what is going on at the dump, it’s doing a lot of damage to the environment,” she said.

Photo Caption: Singer-songwriter Parvati, far right, visited students at Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School at the end of last month to sing and share her thoughts about how important it is to protect the environment. Curious to see if her make-up and outfit were environmentally friendly are from left, students Amy Kalluk, Darlene Arlooloo and Grace Ittusardjuat.

 
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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

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