A practice closely associated with Yoga is seva – ‘compassionate, selfless acts of service and a general desire to uplift those around you.’ To live that wisdom that we collectively share this human experience and that when we uplift another – we’re uplifting all.
Once I started to really ‘do’ Yoga, I discovered that Yoga isn’t something to do but rather a way to BE. Yoga shows us that we are all unified as the same life flows through us all, and as we unfold that awareness within – the sense of Oneness begins to reveal itself in all aspects of life.
Seva doesn’t mean only serving but also offering the results of that service over to God, which has been both a liberation and a challenge as my ego is in a constant grip around my ideas and desires of the way the world should be. There’s a quote in the form of a question from Ragunath of the Wisdom of the Sages podcast, which I always remember:
‘Am I trying to be God or am I trying to serve God?’ It’s a good one to contemplate when considering true selfless seva.
Service is an inherent anchor of living a spiritual life. Swamiji said nearly daily, “Take care of one another.” I remember this mantra every day.
I can confidently say that an aspect of a well-lived life has an element, or many, of service. It is a practice that serves me sincerely, and I hope to share it with you.
Putting seva into practice for me means working wholeheartedly on the charitable goals of Tribe of Lambs. A charity I co-founded with my friends in 2014 supports the educational and health needs of children affected by HIV in India.
We’re currently raising money to send 57 kids in Jaipur, Rajasthan to school for a year! Consider what a generous donation might do for a child seeking out an education free from discrimination and stigma.
MAKE A DONATION 👇trek2023.raisely.com/bobbi-paidel
Give like your heart depends on it and read more…
How Seva healed my heart
I began the Tribe of Lambs journey at the same transformational time I met Swamiji and it wasn’t clear what it would become. But in desperate measures to avoid my own suffering, I was bound to alleviate someone else’s.
The study and practice during my first months in India unfolded a sense of Oneness, which I couldn’t compartmentalize even if I’d tried. I took on the concept of Oneness and began to see my impact with each choice I made daily. It led me to live, consume, and choose with ethics I had never considered before, now seeing the connection with all those around me.
Furthermore, I grew uncomfortable with my privilege, ignorance, and naivety to the vast world outside. So hence, Tribe of Lambs was born.
In the years that have passed, my heart has healed, and inner courage has been inspired by the many children we’ve met, loved and the few we’ve lost. The incredible people who have donated, volunteered, shared and rallied with my best friends and I have opened up the clarity of the inherent goodness of people.
The connection created and the energy built through this organization have always had a sense of being carried by the wings of the Highest because we’re not in it for us – we’re in it for them. And that has made all the rewards so much more deeply satisfying.
This, in my experience, is seva.
Tribe of Lambs has not only been a seva and a wonderful part of my spiritual and personal growth. It has helped me face my attachment, identification, ego, misconceptions, diversity, pain, even death, and many joys through each step of the journey.
One thing is for certain, and that is the profound impact being of service has had on my understanding of the precious, interconnected sweetness of Life.
And in that spirit, I’ll also be offering a special practice on Monday, July 10th, in support of the organization Yoga End Yulin which advocates for the end of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival and the end of all dog and cat meat trade. Class is free, simply make a donation to join.
— a devotional practice to dive deeper into yoga as service both on the mat and in the world. We lean into the joy that comes from moving selflessly in the world, offering our practice up to the Universe and our energy to the happiness and health of all sentient beings.
Seva quotes to inspire your life (and your yoga practice):
“Take care of one another.” – Swami Shyam
“The impurities of the body and mind are destroyed though the performance of Tapas, which may take the forms of fasting, giving charity, helping people, tolerating foolishness and ignorance. By means of Tapas, the body becomes very light and healthy and the yogi’s powers of hearing and understanding become extremely acute.” – Patanjali Yoga Sutras 2:43
“Live A Pure And Selfless Life Of Service; Be a Friend To All, Your Own Critic, And Ever Kind; Become One With All Life” – Dhammapada Part VII
“Every selfless act is born from the eternal infinite Divine, It is present in every act of service. Whoever ignores this law, indulging his senses for his own pleasure, ignoring the needs of others, wastes his life.” – Bhagavad Gita 3:16
“The Yogi believes that every creature has as much right to live as he has. He believes that he is born to help others and he looks upon creation with eyes of love. He knows that his life is linked inextricably with that of others and he rejoices if he can help them to be happy. He puts the happiness of others before his own and becomes a source of joy to all who meet him. As parents encourage a baby to walk the first steps, he encourages those more unfortunate than himself and makes them fit for survival.” – Light of Yoga, BKS Iyengar pg 32 [on ahimsa]
“Becoming self-aware allows you to feel compassion for others because you come to understand that they too, are souls struggling to recall their nature.” – Radhanath Swami
“Seva is the most wonderful, the most powerful, the most profound alchemy You do seva, and you are a changed person guaranteed for sure.” – Gurumayi
“Spirituality does two things for you. One, you are forced to become more selfless, two, you trust to providence.” – Imran Khan
“Selfless service alone gives the needed strength and courage to awaken the sleeping humanity in one’s heart.” Sai Baba
“This is the true joy in life: being used for a purpose, recognized by yourself as a mighty one: being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown out on the scrap heap. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” – George Bernard Shaw
“We keep what we get by giving it away” – Y12SR
“Through meditation, I now know that there is no difference between You and me. It is all Pure Self. Whatever You are, as the sun, You are the same Being in me.” – Brahm Jyoti: Ishavasya Upanishads Verse 16 Swami Shyam
“Of certainty, the man who can see all creatures in himself, himself in all creatures, knows no sorrow.” – Shree Purohit Swami
Let me tell you again that you must be pure and help any one who comes to you, as much as lies in your power. And this is good Karma. By the power of this, the heart becomes pure (Chitta-shuddhi), and then Shiva who is residing in every one will become manifest.” – Swami Vivekananda
“Change the world by changing yourself.
Heal the world by healing yourself.
Find a need and fulfill it.
Service is the greatest form of spiritual practice.
Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.
You don’t have to have a college degree to serve,
You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace.
A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Share with All:
Share with others what you have;
Physical, mental, moral and spiritual.
Do not hoard wealth.
Do not covet the wealth of others.
In sharing there is joy and peace.
Sharing generates cosmic love.
And destroys greed.
Sharing removes selfishness
And creates selflessness.
Sharing purifies your heart.
Sharing develops oneness.”
– Essence of Vedanta: Swami Sivananda