Seva- Being of Service. What does that even mean?!
Seva means selfless service in Sanskrit. Seva is doing something for others without a need for something in return. In the yoga community we talk about this often. Many teachers believe that being a yoga teacher is a form of Seva, I would agree.
However there are many different ways to be of service in the community.
You can choose to do something large, like start a non-profit or volunteer to mentor someone. You can do something small, like give a blanket to a homeless person. Just like when a pebble is dropped in a lake and the ripples reach all the way to the shore, all actions have lasting effects.
We can’t even begin to understand how deep and far the ripples might go and what those ripples will do to the fabric of life, this is Karma. Part of Seva is just dropping the pebble, with loving kindness, and letting the ripples take it from there.
There are a few ways I try to incorporate this into my daily life.
· I always carry packets of organic baby food and fruit (in my purse and in my car) to give out to the homeless when I see them. The baby food can be really great for those people that don’t have teeth.
· I also do ‘giving days’ where I try to give as much as I can throughout the day. Of course this can be money, like tipping $20 at the local coffee shop, but it can also be really helpful to give in non-monetary ways. On these days I make a focused effort to smile at strangers more and to really give my attention to someone when they are talking.
I also go out of my way to say thank you to people of service, like nurses and policemen/women. Also, letting someone cut in line at the grocery store or bank. One of my favs is to give money to the cashier at a coffee shop to buy drinks for the people behind me until the money runs out. It can be fun to see how creative you can be in giving without giving money.
These days are so healing for everyone involved. I like to think that the people I give to, even in these small ways, then go on to pay it forward to others.
Of course it must be noted that In order to be of service you must take care of yourself first, you can't pour from an empty cup! Healing yourself, taking time out to recharge, is also a form of service. When you are stronger and more in balance, so is everyone around you.
Since Yoga believes that we are all one, all connected, when we are in service to others we are also in service to ourselves. By helping the community, either one person at a time or on a larger scale, we are helping all of humanity.