Viveka and the Carbon Fund

Viveka means discrimination.  Being able to recognize the meaning of what we do and what are the potential consequences of our actions is an important aspect of our yoga practice and our lives.  Living discriminately does not mean that we reject what is pleasurable.  Rather, it means that we recognize the consequences to ourselves and other beings when we partake of the fruits of the earth and the labors of others or choose one activity over another.  We think about whether it makes sense and then, once having decided, we fully engage and enjoy and don’t beat ourselves up after the fact.  If we think we made the wrong decision, we choose differently the next time.

How does viveka relate to the Carbon Fund?  The Carbon Fund’s motto is “reduce what you can, offset what you can’t.”  I replace “can’t” in this phrase with “choose not to,” as what we think we must have (in this society generally) does not necessarily correlate with what we actually need to survive.  Otherwise, all we’re doing is throwing a little money as a superficial balm without thinking through with discrimination.

When I think about what I can reduce, and what I choose not to in terms of my carbon footprint and my overall lifestyle, I am struck by the irony that my biggest carbon footprint after heating and cooling my house is plane trips to John Friend yoga trainings.  It would be disingenuous to think that I can’t not go to Santa Fe next week.  I do not think, however, it makes sense to shrink our lives to the point that we are not engaged in society and that we do not relish the opportunities we have, just to feel good about diminishing our impact on the environment.

Studying and practicing Anusara yoga all around the country, getting to know the wider kula and establishing a greater sense of connection while deepening my knowledge and experience of the practice continues to be wonderful and joyous for me.  So I choose to go, and I anticipate having a great time next weekand bringing back great things to share with all of you.  And I’ve gone to Carbon Fund’s website and offset my trip and then some.  And I think about other ways to reduce what I can.




  1. Kat

    I practice mindfulness meditation in which the important thing is to be mindful/aware of your choices and why you make the choice you do, which you obviously are. We are in a constant dance between healing our planet by reducing our carbon footprint and healing our planet through healing our selves, children, community. So I sometimes put the clothes in the dryer instead of out on the line because I really need to sit down and read books to the kids but it is a conscious choice and the next day I chose to put the clothes out on the line. Have a fantastic week!

  2. Dan

    Coming from a Transcendentalist perspective, for me this relates to Thoreau’s advice to “Simplify, simplify.” This isn’t advice to go out and become an ascetic — there’s a middle ground here, and this advice suggests that we pay attention to what’s really important in life (those transcendent values), and enjoy life, without being enslaved by things that keep us from that which is most important.

    I know, I know, it’s not an exact analogy — we Transcendentalists are coming at this from a different perspective — but I think we’re headed in the same direction on this one….

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