Q&A with Swami Karma Karuna & Robina McCurdy
How can we live as if it were heaven on earth? What does it mean to live a sacred life? Learn from these power houses as share their wisdom in this inspiring Q&A.
Robina McCurdy is the founder of the Institute of Earthcare Education Aotearoa, co-founder of Tui Land Trust & Community in Golden Bay, NZ and pioneer of the S.E.E.D (Schools Environmental Education & Development) programme in South Africa & Brazil. She has been engaged in community development, organic growing, permaculture design and tutoring on a global scale for the past 25 years inspiring, guiding and offering tools and techniques for people to access their gifts, develop their potential, build their resourcefulness, and live their dreams.
Swami Karma Karuna is a founding member and director of Anahata Yoga Retreat in Golden Bay, New Zealand, and a dedicated, intuitive yoga teacher with years of experience working with a wide range of people. She also travels internationally part of the year, committed to sharing Yoga Solutions for Life™ – simple & powerful techniques for transformation. Swami Karma Karuna has a unique and practical approach, inspiring the integration of yogic principles into everyday activities.
What would it be like if we lived in harmony with ourselves & nature?
SKK: There would be a lot more peace, a lot less war. We would have much more appreciation for what the earth mother gives us. We would be able to have more harmonious communities a more inspired lifestyle. When we get into either the negative mind or if we get stuck in the stress of the external world, we miss all of these opportunities.
R: Taking that self-responsibility. If we’re truly tuned into ourselves, we can notice when the emotional cycle tumbles out of control. From there we can know the source of it and correct that place. Sometimes we react to whatever comes in at us from the outside environment like, “BAM, BAM, BAM!” When we are in harmony, it’s more like “bing…. bing… bing…” It can bounce off us and we can choose how we relate and what we take on.
SKK: One of the quotes from my teacher of the Satyananda lineage is, “There’s no peace in the himalayas, there’s no noise in the city. Both are within you.” I think at the end of the day we have to find that inner peace and then we can express it and expand on that.
What does heaven on earth look like to you?
R: Heaven on earth to me is where you have the contrast of something which innately has seeds of destruction, poverty, and colorlessness. Then by a human endeavor we bring brightness, we bring life, we bring joy, we bring cooperation and safety. A catalyst! Then it catches on and we’re all in this together transforming our environment. As we transform our environment, the environment nurtures us back. It’s this cycle of breathing in and breathing out. Completely adding to a life force on this planet!
SKK: When I think of heaven on earth, certain words come to mind. Abundance, ability to communicate between different nations, individuals, and societies. Enough food for all, enough of what is needed to nourish everyone both at internal and external levels. Not living with stress or anxiety. Health and wellbeing, mentally, physically and spiritually. Some of that comes to mind when I think about heaven on earth.
R: Me too!
What does it mean to you to surrender to Gaia?
R: Gaia, the whole cosmos, the whole ecosystem, flora, fauna, earth mother, the air that we breathe. To me, to surrender to Gaia practically is to lie on the earth. Do my yoga breathing, breathing in the earth while breathing in my body. Completely surrender because I know she is a provider and a support. It’s also a practical exercise to go to the ocean or somewhere where the air is clean or pure and practice yoga breathing. So… it’s kind of dancing with the environment.
SKK: For me, I think of it at an internal level. As I do my practices of yoga, meditation, deep breathing, it allows a deeper connection with myself because I am a part of Gaia. I am one and a part of it. I can feel my own rhythms, I can connect more to my own breath which is connected to the air outside of me. I can feel the rivers that run through me and I can find a better, deeper connection. Then I feel that support because it’s always there but when stress comes or negativity comes, I forget it. When I do the practice and feel the earth around me through the breath, through that connection, then I am in a more aligned rhythm.
Gaia has gifted us with so much, how can we give back to her?
SKK: We can give back to Gaia by continuing to evolve ourselves. The more we evolve ourselves in a positive way, the more we can be in tune with the needs of Gaia and express them. Simple as that.
R: Giving back to Gaia is a key role in my life. I can’t not do it. The key is living a life in service. Service to humanity, the creatures and the whole ecosystem. It’s totally replenishing to offer in service and give to Gaia in our own expressive forms. Even someone with a beautiful voice, to stand in the middle of an intersection and tone! Just singing at the top of a mountain top. It’s putting vibrational ripples for the harmonic that other people can feel and heal from. So whatever is our gift, give it! Full on!
SKK: I think that vibration is really important. If we can be more positive in the mind, it then permeates the environment that we’re within. Chanting mantras is an amazing way to send out a high vibration and to give back through ceremonies. Reconnecting ourselves through these natural rhythms to Gaia.
What practices can we use to purify the environment?
R: Some ancient yoga practices that come out of India we integrate within our Permaculture & Yoga course. One is called a Havan, a fire ceremony for purification. I’ll let Karuna talk more about that.
SKK: A Havan is an ancient Vedic practice but also has been used in different traditions around the world in some form or another. The element of fire is used to represent transformation and the different elements are part of the ceremony. Water is used by sprinkling it around, earth is used by giving different offerings to the fire, and air element is used by offering incense. This intentional action put forward during the fire ceremony can expand to action with intent in everyday daily life. But not only that, the vibration of the mantra that is used is purifying the environment, purifying the people doing the practice and also the nature within and around.
R: During the Permaculture PDC & Yoga retreat, we will be having havan’s as well as other practices to purify the environment. One is Yoga Nidra which is deep relaxation and awake sleep to charge ourselves. We will also practice pranayama, deep yoga breathing and we will be working with mantras.
SKK: Mantra is a practice which translates from “manas” meaning mind and “tra” means expansion and liberation. So it’s a vibration that helps us to expand and liberate the mind. The mind can get stuck in negative tendency, of ‘me, myself and I’, or stuck into projections outside. Mantra allows us to free the mind and energy which gets blocked and stuck in different ways. Not only that, there is an amazing connection that happens between all the people that come up for this specific retreat. The people begin to relate to each other; they’re living in a yogic ecovillage, a conscious community for 18 days and to learn how to connect and relate. They learn to understand different nationalities, different tendencies and different ways of thinking. We bring that back out in our daily life so we can apply it to our own communities, our own families.
R: The course is like the standard permaculture course then yoga goes right through it. There’s morning meditation, Yoga Nidra, Hatha Yoga which are interwoven throughout the course. Its two separate things, the permaculture & yoga. They are from different backgrounds but have such a belonging. Like a partner, like a marriage made in heaven. You can only do it by experiencing it. You can only know it by experiencing it.
KK: So come and join us!
How can we make every activity in our life a sacred ritual?
SKK: Bringing mindfulness. I always use the term, anything + awareness = yoga. Anything – awareness = bhoga. Bhoga means the sense world, the world of being stuck in the senses and desires. If we have too much Boga we end up with Roga which means sickness or imbalance. So by bringing awareness, presence, mindfulness to whatever you do, we begin to transform ourselves, our life and the environment around us.
R: I think Karma Karuna has the last say on that one!
Join us for 16 days of permaculture, yoga & transformation at the Yoga & Permaculture Design Course Retreat.