“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” —Mahatma Gandhi
The sunlight has diminished, the weather is cold, and the holiday season is upon us. December marks a special time of year for celebration and reflection—not just for those of us who practice yoga, but for everybody.
It’s a time to recognize what we have, harness our gratitude, and let it inspire us to give selflessly. The Sanskrit word “seva” encompasses this beautifully.
The Meaning of Seva
“Seva” roughly translates to “selfless service,” or voluntary action taken without any thought or expectation of a reward in return. Although serving others selflessly causes everyone to benefit, it is always performed without any hope or goal of a specific outcome to be experienced by the individual performing it.
In yoga, we move through asanas to transform our physical bodies. However, when we go beyond the mat by performing seva in as part of our way of life, we develop our sense of spirituality in a way that has the power to transform our personalities.
Seva can help us become more aware of bad habits and behaviors that only serve our egos. The more aware we are of our egos, the greater opportunity we have to choose to be able to act and behave in ways that benefit the community and environment as a whole—not just ourselves alone.
Finding Peace in the Season
December is often a busy month for most people, but with a little extra prioritization, we can all take some time out of our hectic schedules to slow down and reconnect with the true nature of reality so that we may feel inspired to perform seva. It’s as simple as waking up 10 minutes earlier or staying up 10 minutes later than usual to go spend some time in solitude.
Staring out the window as the snow falls, going for a winter walk in the quiet and stillness of the woods, sitting down to meditate, journaling about the past year, or taking a warm bath with some calming aromatherapy essential oils are all great ways to reestablish a sense of peace and acceptance of everything as it is in the moment.
It is our sense of peace that will lead us to seva. When we feel at peace with ourselves and the state of reality, we’re much more likely to act in ways that benefit everyone as opposed to getting caught up in our own agendas.
Consciously Choosing Seva
Choosing seva is challenging, but worth it. In a world where we are conditioned right from birth to develop our egos, choosing to put others before ourselves can feel like going against our very own instincts.
This is why it’s important to start small. Hold the door open for a stranger, buy your coworker a coffee, send a personalized video message to a Facebook friend to wish them a happy holiday season, or offer to shovel your elderly neighbour’s driveway for free.
Most importantly, do it because it will make others feel good. You’ll feel good too as a result of making them feel good.
Happy Holidays from all of us here at Yogi Surprise!