My introduction to seva came from an Indian professor I had in college. She taught on the topic and the responsibility of and value in serving one’s community. It was lost on me at the time. However 20 years later, I remember what she looked like, subtleties of her accent and even the spelling of her Hindu name; clearly she had an impact on me.
The second time I encountered seva was at my Foundations training at Kripalu. Swamiji divided our large group into teams of sevites and sent us out to help with the housekeeping, kitchen and operations of the Center. Who knew vacuuming could be such
bliss! Gone were the superficial and selfish reasons for doing things; for that one hour my job was to vacuum carpet and focus on why I was doing it. Time flew by and I was amazed at how full I felt and how much I had accomplished in such a short time.
My third and deepest encounter with seva came from readings in the Bhagavad Gita during Swamiji’s Yoga Business Skills course. Time and time again Krishna provides the teachings and illuminates the path for Arjuna until finally he gets it. I often feel like Arjuna: lost, confused and without focus, but once I recognize my state (with a small “s”), I have these collective experiences to draw upon and apply to my life. My version of it is this:
“When you are stuck on yourself, go be of service to someone else.” It works every time, usually in ways and to a degree I could never have imagined.
Such is the case with the upcoming Conference, now just 1 week away. I feel like Arjuna slumped in his chariot, burdened by my churning mind, caught in the turmoil of why I can’t go — and why I need to. But what if I went not for me but to serve others and assist with the event? Swamiji always builds in ways for us to be of service and the Conference is no exception. Vacuuming the halls of Kripalu was a profound experience before my spine opened, before I knew about seva and its power, so by becoming part of the Conference I’ll get more yoga, more Swamiji, more community and more Grace, all by doing more for others and less for me. Sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn’t it?