Our Co-Founder, Geni Donnelly, on the philosophical meaning of Seva, her experience with Seva through Yogamour and some tips on how to easily integrate Seva in your daily life.
The word "Seva" is a Sanskrit word often associated with the facet of yoga meaning “service.” However, it is more than just a simple desire to help others. As Swami Niranjan explains it, “seva” is actually composed of two words, “saha,” which means “with that,” and “eva,” which means “too.” Taken as a whole, the word “seva” means “together with” and describes the actions that seek collective uplifting through the understanding of the needs of others and are based on togetherness and integration. It is an expression of compassion for others and a genuine desire to uplift those around you.
Through the spirit of selfless action, when we have nothing to gain and nothing to lose by not doing, performing acts of Seva through our actions, we attain that height of realization into a higher level of consciousness. The practice of Seva becomes a path to self-realization which is the essence of yoga.
Seva should be done with no expectation of reward or even acknowledgment of the work that is done. We serve not to convert or save a soul, but simply to serve and for no other reason. No strings attached. No carrots. Make yourself invisible and do acts of kindness without expectation of return, coming from a place of love.
In co-founding Yogamour, I’ve been able to offer Seva opportunities through volunteer yoga retreats locally and globally. By participating and organizing, I have relished the opportunity and honor of working with like-minded spirits and creating everlasting friendships.
Friendship is universal and has the ability to transcend differences. By being immersed in a community in need and cultivating friendships, through what seems oceans apart by virtue of language and culture, counter intuitively ends by being a reminder of our shared humanity. As we work together turning compassion into action, our volunteers and supporters are our tireless friends partnering the act of selfless service or Seva yoga.
So how can you make Seva part of your everyday life? Here are 5 easy ways you can connect with others through service:
In line buying coffee? Offer to pay for the drink of the person behind you. We never know what struggles those we encounter so briefly are experiencing. Every extra action can help.
See some trash on your walk to work or even on your favorite hiking trail? Pick it up and place it in the trash or recycle it. We can give service to our planet as well as to others.
Have a little extra time? Find a volunteer opportunity in your community -- a local school, an animal shelter, you name it! You can find them for all levels of time commitments. You could even volunteer with Yogamour!
At the grocery store: There are countless opportunities to be of service. Carry someone's heavy load of groceries, lend a few extra quarters, reach for the unreachable high shelf. Did you bring extra grocery bags? Share them with a stranger.
Read with a child. Whether it's your son or daughter, a niece, a friend, or a student, just one book read aloud can take less than 10 minutes and will open a child's mind to a new world with endless possibilities.
How do you practice Seva in your daily life? Share with us in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook!