Monday, May 17, 2010

SEVA- why can't can't live without it, and can never give too much of it

What is SEVA? Super Enthusiastic Vegetarian Aviators? Stop Endless Verbiage Alltogether? Sunrise Encounters Visiting Australia? Though those do seem like wonderful and completely fun possibilities- SEVA is nothing so complicated...
Seva is... love in action. 
Seva is.... the spiritual practice of selfless service. 
To assign a dictionary definition here it is:
"Seva, a Sanskrit word, springs from two forms of yoga, Karma Yoga which is yoga of action and Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of worship inspired by divine love. Seva is one of the simplest and yet most profound and life changing ways that we can put our spiritual knowledge into action. Seva is asking “How may I serve you?” Or ask “Can I help you?” Another way of doing service is to roll up your sleeves and help where you notice that you are needed."
Service-  love that word.... used to seem so powerless to me when I was younger (to get a little bit better picture of what younger me was- think pissed off, black wearing, Bikini Kill listenen' to WOMAN...cause girl is so pejorative, thank you very much). But now with a few more miles under the hood- the word Service seems so powerful.  To be able to serve people, to give of myself just because I love....woah that is some radical stuff. We have been given the gift of being able to serve, help, reach out.
SEVA doesn't have to be these crazy, grandiose acts of love and devotion..."Did you hear about Angela? She sold everything she owns to pay for 12 orphans to have shoes for their entire life and is now living in Mozambique, digging wells for villagers with her bare hands because she used all of her money to buy orphans shoes and doesn't even have enough money to buy a shovel."  Seva can be small acts...Picking up someone's child from school when they can't, paying that extra dollar for the person in front in line of you who doesn't quite have enough to cover their bill, helping someone with a heavy load of bags at the grocery store. Those bigger acts are great too....starting a non for profit, volunteering on a weekly basis at a soup kitchen, taking a hot meal to your elderly neighbor every day...but all these acts are all the same in that they come from LOVE. They come from a place of devotion to the world you live in. So SEVA doesn't ask to be a matter of fact we all practice SEVA every day in  small powerful ways. Ultimately we will all arrive to the same place as we are all on the path of love. Some people just choose to take a thousand small steps on their way there...and some people just two or three big ones. All just as important, all acts of devotion, all humble  moments of service.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


So sometimes I hear people talking about how everyone sucks...okay so sometimes talk about how everyone sucks. I mean really sucks. I started talking about how everyone sucks just today as I was taking Harrison to the train station and I got cut off- people stopped in the middle of the road to have conversations with a driver in the opposite lane (hmmmm- never crossed your mind that there are people behind you trying to make the train?nice)and people beeped at me because I din't have the foresight and driving skills to fly over the car in front me that is stopped in the middle of the road to have a conversation with a driver in the opposite lane. AAARRRRRGGGGGG- thoughtless, selfish, self involved!!!!!!!! (WOW- I am really applying that compassion I talked about) 

Then I think about all of the people that I work with at The Center for Growth and Development . The Center provides verbal behavior based ABA services to children with Autism and related disorders. The services that the center offers are so needed-yes, but more importantly it is staffed by the most giving, generous, tireless, people that I have ever met. These people deal with things every day that most people would not be able to deal with for an hour. They don't ask for applause, for accolades, even for attention for what they do. They just DO it. They do it because they are mothers. They do it because they love the amazing children they work with. They do it because it is who they are.

Then I think about Kate Perna.  Kate has started an organization called Bent on Change . Here is the  Mission Statement and vision statement.......

To bring hope, possibility, and peace to individuals and their communities

We will improve communities by extending holistic care and the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of yoga practices to underserved and at-risk populations as a means of reducing violence, facilitating empowerment, and increasing overall wellness . We will serve all community members equally regardless of economic and personal circumstances . We will utilize the practices of Yoga Therapy as a complement to traditional medicine in an effort to improve patient quality of life and to provide holistic care.

Bent on Change is focusing on the town of Newburgh (read more about the cities stats here ). Kate wants to make a difference in a place that most people have given up on. She has faith and love that is overwhelming. She doesn't ask for applause, for accolades or even for attention for she does. She just DOES it.  She does it because it's who she is.

Then I think about Michelle and Kim. Michelle is a yogini and mother I know. She is also a nurse practitioner who works in pediatrics. A few weeks ago she met Kim....
Let me tell you about Kim. 
Kim is a single mom. 
She works as a CT tech. 
She's older than I am. She has two kids. 
Matthew is 15 and Judy is 9
They're both adopted... They both have Down syndrome. 
Kim adopted one baby with Down Syndrome and then 5 years later she adopted another
Oh, and did I say she's a single mom?
There you go

Michelle met Kim- who loves these children. Kim- who has so much love in her heart that she also works to make the wishes of other children with Down's Syndrome come are just two of the wishes she has granted with her cell phone, time and love.

A 7 year old with leukemia who has just gone through 2 years of chemo needs a new bed. Mom had put a bed on layaway at a store in Michigan, but can't afford to pay the balance. Kim gets on the phone. When she's done, the wisher has a complete bedroom set and a bedroom makeover. And her brother has a new bedroom too. And the family has 2 new couches and new wall to wall carpeting. In time for Christmas

A young man, who lives in Texas, wants to arrive at his 30th birthday party in a limo. He wants to wear a tux. Kim gets on the phone, and talks to the mom who has been unemployed for a while and says there is no party. When Kim is done, they have a banquet hall, a limo, a tux, a DJ, a videographer, food and drink from Panera and Pepsi for 50 guests , a limo shaped cake, and paper and plastic wear from Target. Kim also gets Delta to donate a plane ticket to fly his sister in from Washington. And Marriott to donate a hotel room for sis and transportation to and from the airport. So when the wisher steps into the limo, his most favorite sister is waiting for him. Surprise!
 (Thanks Michelle for letting me steal this from your blog

Kim wants to go to Down's a conference in Fla. She has no money. Michelle decides she is going to make that happen for her since she has done so much for so many others.... Make HER wish come true. (read more about Kim and her work, and Michelle's fundraising efforts 
 They don't do it to be GOOD. They don't do it for the applause or accolades. They do it because it is who they are. They do it without thinking about it. They do it because they love.

I'm sure my friends at work cut people off in traffic. I can imagine Kate stops and talks to people in the middle of main street. Michelle probably beeps at the person who is trapped behind Kate. Hmmmm- they don't suck. Maybe all of these people who make us feel so angry at times are people just like Michelle, my friends at work, Kate. People who are full of love- people who just DO. Maybe not in such measureable ways like the people above...but in meaningful ways nonetheless.  I think we are allowed moments to be human (hell to even say people suck).  The same humanity that makes people steal your parking place, is the same humanity that allows people to love so fully and deeply.

Thank you to all of the amazing people I have the honor of knowing and learning from. You are a constant inspiration. Thank you also to Amma . My Guru, my ultimate inspiration.

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