Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sandy & Seva

So, the past few days have been quite interesting and to be honest, they have been very eye opening.

Okay, so my last post was composed of me snapping and feeling as if things were never going to get better  It just so happens the universe presented me with an opportunity to see quite a different perspective.


First things first, turns out my laptop wasn't broken (hence the ability to write this post). Basically I just exerted all this energy of anxiety and worry feeling sorry for myself after I had finally reached a breaking point.  Since I wasn't allowing myself to feel what I was going through internally, all of those feelings ended up being unleashed on an external situation (as they usually do).  What a waste of energy (insert sigh here).


Moving on... because that's what we do, we move forward right?


Saturday I was an actual witness and active participant of yoga and life emerging into one as a result of the hurricane Sandy aftermath.  And for all of you out there that think yoga is about doing pretty poses and stretches on the mat, this took place right in my very own home.  It came in the form of Seva Yoga.  Seva, which is the Sanskrit for what we refer to as "Karma Yoga" can be translated in a variety of different ways but ultimately defined as selfless service.  This word means "together with" and is as much as an attitude as it is an action since it is practiced with your mind instead of your body.  Seva yoga is the practice of selflessness and putting others needs before your own without thinking of how your actions will benefit you but rather benefit others.  Seva is an expression of gratitude and allows us to give to others as a thank you to the gifts that we receive.  The reason Seva is considered yoga is because of the combined effects it has with yoga asana(yoga poses practice).

When we practice our asana, we are becoming aware of so many things, such as the movement of our body, different bodily sensations, awareness of our bodies and purifying our bodies with our breathe.  Just like asana, with Seva yoga we do the same thing except we are redirecting the focus to our minds.  We bring awareness to our thoughts, feelings and when we come to a place that feels uncomfortable (just like when we are uncomfortable in a yoga pose) instead of running away from it we use it as an opportunity to see how we can confront it and do our best to move forward even if it may not be what we really want to do.  It's like when we say "what you resists, persists".  The more we run away from uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings in the body, it will always come back until we choose to confront it and adjust to the situation.  Just like in yoga when we come to a pose that feels uncomfortable we want to stop and just give up.  Instead we adjust our bodies and through practice, the uncomfortable feelings will eventually diminish.  The same with Seva Yoga in our minds.  If we don't adjust our thinking and awareness to deal with the uncomfortable feelings that may come up(which they always will) they will always continue to have the same negative affects on us until we surrender.  With our energy and awareness we are able to begin to practice Seva Yoga.

Okay so some of you may start to see where I am going with this, where is the connection between Seva Yoga and Sandy... and how did this happen under my own roof?


I belong to a church, although I am not a particular religion.  I love being able to pick and choose from different principles of different religions and philosophies such as Buddhism, Christianity, laws of attraction and just the natural universe doing its work.  Like I said, I am not your average yogi (or average anything else for that matter).  The church I belong to had called my mother after the hurricane to check up on us and see how we were after the storm.  My mother told the pastor about the flooding and the damage because my father has way too much pride to admit that he was going to need help basically gutting the entire downstairs of our house.  Since the water came up about 4 inches into the downstairs of my house all the wall paneling, sheet rock, insulation and various other projects needed to take place before mold would build up.  One man doing this work could take months.  The pastor asked if we wanted help and a crew of volunteers from the church (who has had hundreds of volunteers from all over the country come to help people in need of assistance as a result of Sandy) to come and help.  My mom of course said yes, because as if my dad hasn't lost enough and done enough... he could  really use the help whether he would like to admit it or not).  Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to push our pride aside, recognize when we are in over our heads and admit that we need help.


Saturday morning ended up turning into a beautiful afternoon.  The sun was shining, my attitude may have been a little restless from the events of the previous two weeks so i decided to do what any UN-typical yogi does... lay a mat out in the street and start practicing.  Aside from the weird looks I received as cars slowed down and awkwardly stared as they passed by me, I would consider it a successful yoga session.  Out of nowhere about 6 or 7 cars started pulling in front of my house.  Not going to lie I was a little frightened at first until I noticed they were all wearing the same t-shirts with the same writing.  As I got closer the text on the t-shirts all said "Centerpoint Church...WE ARE HERE TO SERVE". 

Just like that, my yoga went from on the mat in the street to off the mat in the downstairs of my house. Immediately, 20 people stormed into my house with hammers, trash bags, shovels, crowbars and were all asking the same thing... "what can we do to help?".  I'm not even exaggerating when I say my jaw dropped.  Here came all these random strangers from all different ages, races, ethnicity's, genders and i could not find one thing they had in common except that they wanted to help people affected by Sandy and did not expect anything in return.  Sound familiar?  Seva Yoga.  Selflessly giving from a place of compassion, love, gratitude and just because they felt so fortunate that they could give back to people who needed it more then they did.  At that moment, Sandy and Seva had become one.



The next two hours these strangers (who quickly became family) spent their time gutting the entire downstairs of my home. At first all I wanted to do was go back to bed and wake up when it was all over with but instead, seeing all these people taking time out of their day to help my family who they didn't even know from a hole in the wall inspired me to get my hands dirty.  I put on my working gloves and did all I can do to help them.  Although I couldn't do any heavy labor or construction, it felt good to sweep the nails off the floor, carry the paneling they ripped off the walls to the front of the yard or just be able to hand out water bottles to these people working so hard in my home. Working together, we finished a job that would of taken my family months to accomplish in a little over two hours.  When they were finished all I wanted to do was lay down and rest and so I assumed everyone else would do the same, instead I overhear this group of 20 people talk about the house they were headed over to right after to do the same thing.


As the crew left and he cars started to pull away I was still in shock.  It astonished me how people were so willing to give and serve so selflessly and without even knowing it they were practicing Seva yoga (the yoga of service) as a result of Sandy.  That day I gained some faith in the spirit of people.  Just how people can be so willing to do something good for someone else without anyone else knowing and without expecting anything in return.
Many neighbors came up to me in a state of amazement after witnessing what had just gone on and had one question... "who were those people?".  I didn't know what to say, but after a few moments of reflection I was able to respond "They were here to serve with no other motive other then wanting to help".  In my head the only thing going through my mind was... I want to give back that gift that was so freely given to me.

To conclude, I hope you got as much out of this story as I have.  Not only about the good of people but also how yoga serves us in so many different ways and can be taken off our mats and into the world.



Until next time, Om shanti shanti shanti... go in peace.  Namaste.

2 comments:

  1. I'm enjoying your posts and want to tell you that you are awe-inspiring! I'm glad you included the photos of you in front of your house!

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