Day 29 Session 03: A Dialogue on Yoga & Unity With Nature: Perspectives from Indigenous Environmentalism by GPIW

About the Dialogue

Through the practice of yoga we experience the unity of life, of all the manifest worlds. It is essential now that we regain the knowledge of our unity with the natural world. If we know ourselves to be one with nature, we will not destroy it. We will care for it as we care for our own body. This event will be moderated by Daniel Abreu, (facilitator in the Work That Reconnects, Dominican Rep.) with remarks from Acarya Judy Lief (Buddhist Teacher, Colorado, USA), Shephali Patel (Author, Writer and Farmer, New York), Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota—International Speaker on Peace, Indigenous and Mother Earth perspective, Turtle Island) and Jenia Mukherjee (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Humanities & Social Sciences & RCESH, IIT Kharagpur).


Daniel Abreu (Moderator), Facilitator & Whale Cetacean Expert, Dominican Republic

Daniel Abreu currently explores and structures learning spaces to deepen our connection with ourselves and the natural world. He is a co-organizer of the Young Leaders for the Planet, based in the Dominican Republic, which offers nature education programming for schoolchildren and adolescents. His support offers opportunities for youth to meaningfully engage and interrogate ecological and climate-based thinking, and to work hands-on and collaboratively. The students are instructed in a number of interdisciplinary areas (such as ecology, biology, sociology, ethnobotany, permaculture, mindfulness, and conflict management), take field trips to ecological sites, listen to guest speakers from a variety of professional fields, design sustainable projects, and more. Daniel is a facilitator of the “Work that Reconnects,” co-creating and holding space for bringing together traditional wisdom and contemporary science with the purpose of experiencing inner harmony, community bonding and service to the earth. His key focus is on nurturing deep connections between humans with all elements of nature and helping to restore a benevolence between humans and other life on this planet. To achieve this, Daniel organizes talks, conferences, retreats, and educational programming for people of all ages. His objectives are to engage people in the practices of spiritual ecology, aiming to foster a renewed perspective and connection to the natural world, and learning to take up roles as stewards and agents of regeneration for the earth. He has been an official negotiator in Climate Change Conferences around the world (including the Paris Agreement) on behalf of his country of the Dominican Republic. He is an expert on youth outreach and empowerment, leadership development, and corporate social responsibility.

Tiokasin Ghosthorse, International Speaker on Peace, Indigenous and Mother Earth perspectives, Turtle Island/USA

Tiokasin Ghosthorse—(Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota)—is an international speaker on Peace, Indigenous and Mother Earth perspective. A survivor of the “Reign of Terror” from 1972 to 1976 on the Pine Ridge,? Cheyenne River and Rosebud Lakota Reservations in South Dakota and the US Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding and Church Missionary School systems designed to “kill the Indian and save the man,” Tiokasin has a long history of Indigenous activism and advocacy. He spoke as a 15 year-old at the United Nations - Lake Geneva, Switzerland. He is an active board member of Simply Smiles, and The Center for Earth Ethics. Tiokasin speaks frequently at venues such as Yale University’s School of Divinity, Ecology and Forestry focusing on the cosmology, diversity and perspectives on the relational/egalitarian vs. rational/hierarchal thinking processes of Western society. Tiokasin was a 2016 Nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize from the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy. He was selected for a 2016 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation National Fellowship in Music, and was a Nominee for a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 2017, National Native American Hall of Fame Nominee 2018 and 2019, and 2019 Indigenous Music Award Nominee for "Best Instrumental Album" for "From the Continuum."

Tiokasin is the Founder, Host and Executive Producer of the 27 year-old award-winning “First Voices Radio” (formerly “First Voices Indigenous Radio”), a weekly one-hour live program syndicated to 85 public, community and commercial radio stations in the US and Canada.

Judy Lief, Buddhist Teacher, Writer & Editor, USA

Judy Lief is a Buddhist teacher, writer and editor. She was a close student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who empowered her as a teacher, and was given the title of Acharya, or senior teacher, by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the head of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage. As well as traveling and teaching extensively, Lief is active in the field of death and dying, and is the author of Making Friends with Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality. She is a member of the Madison-Deane Initiative, a Vermont-based group dedicated to improving end-of-life care. She has edited many books for Shambhala Publications and is the executive editor of Vajradhatu Publications in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition to being a trustee of Naropa, Lief has served Naropa as president (1980–85), as adjunct faculty, as Bali study-abroad program director and even as a janitor. She is active in the Global Peace Initiative of Women and is a member of the Contemplative Alliance, a group designed to bring a contemplative perspective to critical global problems. Her two daughters are both Naropa graduates. She loves to visit her two grandchildren, to dig in her garden and to play with her dog, Loki.

Shephali Patel, Writer, Gardner & Farmer, New York, USA

Shephali is joyfully engaged in the intertwined work of ecological and cultural regeneration. She explores this work through her roles as a traditional ecologist, farmer, educator, and artist-activist. She designs, builds, and empowers projects that gather and weave our fragmented worlds back together into a whole more beautiful, resilient, and powerful than before. Under the tutelage of the living landscapes, beings, and elements that she serves, Shephali is learning how to nourish and protect the wildness in our eyes, spirits, hearts, and minds. Much of her work involves bringing the wisdom of ancient cosmologies current to help us cross the false divides of science and spirituality, knowledge and art, humility and power, love and death. She is deeply certain that these are the foundations and forces needed to guide us in igniting our collective creative imaginations and fueling the revolutions we actually want - ones that close out violent, extractive systems and heal us into a future of peace, wonder, and beauty.

Shephali is holding close the answer one of her spiritual teachers gave to the question “What is Love?”. His answer, “Love is that which can make the invisible visible”, guides all of her current projects and intentions. Shephali is exploring the true mandate of our work as human beings in the Anthropocene through a series of creative projects titled Sacred Repair. She is currently writing her first book and learning the art of wayfinding. In the spaces between, you can find her staring at stars, hiking, rock climbing, practicing yoga and qi gong, and falling into the ocean over and over again. You can find out more about her work at and follow her @sacredrepair.

Jenia Mukherjee, Asst. Professor, Dept. of Humanities & Social Sciences & RCESH, IIT Kharagpur

Dr Mukherjee is an Assistant Professor at the HSS Department, IIT Kharagpur. Her expertise spans across transdisciplinary water research. Her most recent book: Blue Infrastructures (Springer Nature, 2020), which she completed as the Rachel Carson Fellow in Munich, Germany (2019-2020) is drawing global attention among water scholars and experts. She is in the Advisory Board for the India Youth Water Network. She is also the Principal Indian Partner, CLOC: Knowledge2Action in South Asia (2019-2021) to promote and facilitate cooperation in research and education on environmental sustainability and social well-being with Swiss networks. She has completed different projects funded by international (IUCN, WSSF, AHRC) and national (ICHR, ICSSR, P&RD, etc.) agencies. She is currently leading major large-scale projects on coastal vulnerabilities, flood governance and ecological resilience and community wellbeing funded by SSHRC, Canada, EU-India, etc. She is the member, International Scientific Community, TU-Delft Conference on Socio-Hydrology, September 2021. She is the recipient of prestigious awards for water scholarship using interdisciplinary perspectives including Salzburg Global and Nippon Foundation Fellowship, Japan (2020), Carson Writing Fellowship, Germany (2018-19), Australian Award Fellowship (2015) and World Social Science Fellowship, UNESCO (2013).