What makes Seva 'selfless' is that the work is done for the action, for the intention, but not for a specific or even general reward. However, that is true and yet untrue. For if you ask anyone who has spent time in service to others, who has selflessly given in order to assist and elevate others, that even without the desire for it, there is great happiness in giving of ourselves.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
Well, it's been a great ride, and I've learned a lot. I've done personal fundraising, I've solicited friends, former colleagues and co-workers, associates and strangers. I've taught numerous workshops, public classes and private sessions where all the proceeds benefited the challenge. And, I spent months collaborating on and co-creating GaneshFest, a yoga a music community festival.
Then, about 6 weeks ago, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to achieve the goal I had set - in order to be personally involved in my chosen Seva, I needed to have raised $20,000 by my own and collective actions. I'm proud of the funds I've raised, but I had to admit, the goal was not going to be achieved. I was pretty despondent, with weird feelings like I had failed at something I cared about, that I had let folks down, that I wasn't a person who could manifest and create, etc.
Luckily, my community includes a lot of folks who have done this work and are doing it now... a good few of them reached out to me to check in. One of them - thanks and praise - said to me, and I paraphrase: "are you doing this to help get little girls out of sexual slavery, or are you doing this to be able to say you did it, and go on the trip with Seane (our teacher)?"
BAM! - that's a friend, and that was the question I needed to ponder, to take into my practice and to be mindful on. So, I spent some time with it, and now I have to say, while I would love to be joining those lovely folks and passionate leaders in Seva in India next year, I have done my Seva. And, it only, truly becomes my Seva when I release from the goal of 'achieving' it and move into the space of doing it. For them, not for my ego, not for my identity.
"Living creatures are nourished by food, and food is nourished by rain; rain itself is the water of life, which comes from selfless worship and service."
- Bhagavad Gita, 3.14
I'm really happy to be able to serve, and to be in service to that which I see elevates and illuminates. And, as I write this today, I'm in Dallas, serving and assisting my Teacher, Seane Corn as she leads a Teacher Training. I was also privileged to travel to three of the Wanderlust Festivals over this past summer, and also assisted Seane in her classes there.
There is something really powerful about being in the practice --- not taking the practice and not leading the practice --- witnessing both of those elements and the energetic exchange. The assists I like to focus on are to really ground folks into the physical experience, and of course to assist with alignment and to deepen expression where appropriate. Sometimes the assists I give are to just stand by and breathe with them as they hang for those last few cycles in a tough posture, or just an affirming hand in child's pose.
It's been one of the sweetest experiences for me yet, in my teaching. To find the space between teacher and student and to find how to best serve each. It's an honor to witness the teachings and how they can create sacred space, and how that space allows for incredible personal transformation. It's brought me an enormous amount of fulfillment and happiness.
Where are you finding yours? What can you do for others? What are you good at that can benefit someone else? Are you willing to give, without expecting something in return? And, are you willing to give selflessly, when no one is looking and when no one will say 'thank you'?
Look around you, we can all use a helping hand. This is the season where an old coat that you haven't worn would go a long way for someone who is cold. Where those cans of food that make you feel comfortable in your full pantry could translate into a meal for someone who simply wants to feel full. Make a small action, build on it, look for your way to contribute and give.
And, give thanks and praise! Next Step, #10 - Study!! Don't worry, it's not as ominous as it sounds!