There’s a handful of things that I think all children should be taught while growing up: yoga (of course); how to dance; how to sing; how to grow food; that showing kindness towards other people is the best thing out; and the importance of service work (seva).
Really, wouldn’t the world be a much better place if kids everywhere grew up with the knowledge those things provide?
Monday night I accepted a meal for the third time from my wonderful neighbour who tells me that it must my karma to accept her help. She tells me this and I thank her, and I offer her a bottle of wine to show my appreciation (I almost have to insist that she accepts).
Each time I’ve eaten one of her delicious meals, I offer my gratitude and I get a little teary because I honestly think it’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.
But I’m not just thinking of myself. Instead, I’m inspired by how powerful and amazing it is when one person does a little something for another out of the kindness of their heart.
I think about being a yoga teacher, and how it’d be awesome if part of my Yoga Australia membership requirements included not just keeping up my professional development, but doing some kind of seva every year. Not that I don’t do it anyway, but shouldn’t the heart-opening work of being a yoga teacher also include seva?
Then I think of all the yoga communities out there, generally made up of good-hearted people. Wouldn’t it be cool if every yoga studio/school had a seva program of some sort? Something dedicated to the local community?
It could start with students offering assistance to each other. Need a lift? A meal? Would you like help shopping or moving or cleaning or babysitting?
Perhaps it could then be extended to next door neighbours. Take a look around, the local yoga studio might suggest. Talk to your neighbours and keep an eye out for them. Find out if there’s anything you can do for them.
I know that in some tiny pockets of the world, there are places and people who live this way already.
But it doesn’t happen nearly enough. There are LOTS of people out there in the world without support, and the simplest of actions could change their world.
The thing is we never know unless we ask because some people are too damn proud to confess they could really use a hand. My neighbour only found out what was going on with me by asking more questions than usual.
We all need help from time to time, and it can be hard to admit. I have to almost force myself to say yes whenever my neighbour offers me a meal because there’s a part of my brain that tells me that I shouldn’t take advantage too much.
Of course, there are charities out there doing good work. But often they’re doing stuff for people who are in more extreme need than someone like me.
So yeah, this idea of grassroots seva on a wide-spread basis really appeals to me. I hope I get the chance one day to put it into action with a community of yogis. That’s the dream/plan/wish, anyway.