In recent weeks, I have become consumed with the concept of SEVA, which is simply the yogic term for Selfless Service.
The question: How May I Serve the World? has recently become central to my thinking. I'd like to think I've always been a generous person, but the overwhelming urge to GIVE has taken on a different quality of late. It's less head-oriented and more heart-centered. It's less about what the giving will do for me and how it will affect my own life and more about a true relinquishing of what I have been given and gifted to those who have not been as fortunate.
Alright, alright, before all of you think I've either simply
A). maxed out my Amex or B) lost my mind in some kind of blissful yogic trance
...let me assure you: it is neither.
Rather, what has gone down is nothing short of one of those rare lifetime epiphanies that (we pray) might just change our lives forever. I can't say at exactly what moment it happened; actually, it probably wasn't a single moment at all, but a lifetime of instances and experiences all leading up to a deeply visceral shift in my consciousness. (And again, no, I haven't fallen off my rocker and I still love shoes). The shift has simply been from wondering how to make my life better to how can I make the lives of others better.
Oddly enough, I feel better already. (It's that universal law of giving is receiving again. Amazeballs).
Emerson (the philosopher, and not my 5 year old daughter) once said:
To know me is to know that my first true awakening came when my 10th grade English teacher and soul poet, James Todd King (may he rest in peace with his beloved Prufrock), introduced me to the American Transcendentalists: Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman... And the above quote of Emerson's, while not yet fully internalized within my perfectionist, over achieving self, serves as a reminder that I HAVE, IN FACT, ALREADY SUCCEEDED in life simply by the small acts I perform on the daily.
And yet, somehow, the idea of having helped just one person does not satisfy. It simply doesn't feel like enough. In retrospect, this is exactly why I wrote my first book Um, Like...OM: A Girl Goddesses's Guide to Yoga. To HELP. To share with others (specifically, tween and teenage girls) the tools for contentedness and self esteem I wish I had when I was their age. But that was years ago. So now what? Beyond my daily routine of mothering, meditation, and writing, I so often wonder: what next? And this aching need to share, to uplift, to contribute to the world outside of my own swirling self-identifications, rears its beautiful but pain-inducing head into my heart. I ask myself, while I patiently (or not so patiently, if you ask my husband) await word on the sale of my second book, HOW CAN I BE OF SERVICE? WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
And suddenly, that instantly recognizable sinister sinking sensation takes hold: I begin to feel helpless and useless and all too small... I implore myself not to let the sadness of the swamps overtake me (if you get this reference, we are indeed soul mates). And I immediately know that I must do yoga or meditate or do something meaningful STAT if I intend to save my soul.
And then I find something like this:
A gift from the Universe. And I realize, suddenly, that I am helping. I have always been helping. And while I may have other daily, worldly activities to attend to, there is something to be said for the trail we leave as we walk this life. Do something good for another and it won't just last a moment; it might just possibly last a lifetime.
Even when you are not actively giving each and every moment, even when you feel as though you've done too little, too late, remember: as Emerson so eloquently said, by helping another, even just a single soul, you have, indeed, succeeded.
And doesn't that make you want to help even more? It sure makes me want to.