By Deg Ajeet Kaur
Seva is a light blue bellflower, quietly growing wild in a meadow. It doesn’t need to be noticed or complimented. It exists in its simple, natural, wild beauty.
I approached the nurses’ station and introduced myself, explaining I was a hospice volunteer, providing reiki—hands on touch—for a hospice patient in their care.
Sitting vigil is entering a sacred space. I paused, took a breath and left everything else at the door.
Two gentlemen were seated on either side of the hospital bed, each holding one of their friend’s hands. They looked up. I introduced myself and explained why I was there. After washing up, I positioned myself at the foot of the bed; tuned in, set my intention and placed warm hands on cold feet. The gentleman’s friends thought they should move and let me in closer. But this was perfect. Their touch was most important. The organic positioning of a friend on each side, and me at the foot was just right. Three people holding him with loving hands. We sat quietly. We held silence together.
Their friend was breathing with difficulty, a rattling chest and sweat on his brow. But contrary to the outward-facing impression, his energy was calm and beautiful and the room held the same. But the gentleman on the right said, “Isn’t there something they can do to make him more comfortable?” I shared that the rattling sound is very common and while it may be frightening, their friend was in a relaxed state and the room felt relaxed as well. And how fortunate their friend was to have them there. And how beautiful they looked, all together, as I entered the room.
He was visibly relieved. He knew just what he was doing. And he went back to wiping his friend’s brow and holding his hand. They were perfect in every action—naturally, organically, being led by their own spirit in this moment with no practice or coaching—a man stroking another man’s head with pure love and gentle kindness. I had that feeling that I get when I sit vigil—the feeling of honor and humility, sharing the space with someone preparing to leave the planet, surrounded by loved ones. In that moment, I received a gift and was fully present—more present than I feel most of the time.
They thought I knew him but I explained that I was a volunteer. They started talking about him, about a hard life. He stopped taking his medication because it didn’t make him feel good. And then it was too late, they said, and that he didn’t listen to anyone; he went off the medication even though people told him not to. By this time, I was seated at his side, holding his hand. I had leaned in close and told him who I was and what I was doing. I explained to the friends that when someone has an inner knowing, it doesn’t matter what others say. That he knew what he was doing. To trust that this was his choice and how he wanted it to be; that everything was as it should be.
And he squeezed my hand.
I have three beautiful children. Grafton is 24. Frances is turning 21 this month. And Joe Moody would have been 26 this past January, but he was born with a rare metabolic disorder and died when he was three days old, never leaving the intensive care unit. For the last 8 hours of his life, he was surrounded by family. He was held, looked at, learned from, shared, touched, sung to and whispered with, until his father and I needed to be alone with him. Our spirits guided us throughout the three days of his life. We did everything right. His breathing slowed down as we sang to him. With his final breath, his spirit left through his eyes. We experienced pure love. We felt joy.
It was many years later, as a hospice volunteer that I realized our experience with Joe’s death was hospice. It was a gift to experience a death that was lovely. A seed was quietly planted that day, 26 years ago. A seed was planted that would lay dormant in my heart through a long winter of shock, mourning, pain, agony and acceptance.
Then one day, the sun came out, the earth warmed, and it sent out a little shoot, a little spurt of life, and a wish that every person had a beautiful death like Joe had—pain free and surrounded by love. The seed that sprouted let me know that love is the most important thing in life; not how long the life is, but how loving it is. And that Joe had the perfect life because he experienced powerful pure love from many people. The seed sprouted gratitude and a desire to offer myself to others in that moment.
Seva is an activity that feels right. In the life experience, a seed is planted in our hearts. And one day, that seed sprouts with interest, curiosity, a desire to get involved—not for money, not for accolades, not for an award.
My seva, doing reiki and sitting vigil, is a quiet flower, like a wild, light blue bellflower, hidden among the tall grass, noticed while sitting in a field. It’s not a showy flower; it’s delicate and small. It took me some time to connect it to the seed that it sprouted from.
Meditate on your flower and honor the seed from where it came.
That’s seva to me. A light blue bellflower quietly sitting in a field waiting to be witnessed. The most beautiful flower I ever saw.
There is a mantra and prayer for safety and protection of loved ones called Satigur Kar Deenai. On this version, Satigur Kar Deenai from “I Am Thine,” Jai Jagdeesh’s voice evokes deep love for those we hold dear and the honoring of sacred spaces.
Mantra for Protecting Your Home: Satigur Kar Deenai
Satigur kar deenai asthir ghar baar
Jo nind karai in grihan kee
Tis aagai hee maarai kartaar
Satigur kar deenai asthir ghar baar
Nanak daas taa kee saranaa-ee
Jaa ko shabad akhand apaar
The Guru has protected our homes
He who slanders these homes
Is predestined, by the Creator-Lord, to be defeated
The Guru has protected our homes
Nanak seeks but the refuge of that Lord
Whose word is Infinite and Eternal
Additional English lyrics:
Angel Divine, Angel of mine
This humble prayer I offer at your feet
Keep this home safe and warm
All through the night
Hold your beloved children tight
All through the night, all through the night.
You can learn more about this mantra from Mantra for Protecting Your Home: Satigur Kar Deenai, a Spirit Voyage blog by Dr. Ramdesh Kaur.
Kundalini Yoga transformed Deg Ajeet’s life (Janet Howard), helping her through big life changes with an increased sense of calm, emotional healing, self-acceptance and trust in the flow of life. She started to recognize a part of herself that was deep within. Quiet. Loving. Forgiven. Forgiving. Her daily sadhana is her gift to herself and the calm consistency in a chaotic, ever-changing world. Wherever she is, her kundalini sadhana is with her. Yes, she gets thrown off balance regularly, but each morning, she gets back to her center – strong, relaxed and at peace.
With an over 25 year career in health care environmental stewardship (www.practicegreenhealth.org), Deg Ajeet’s passion lies in healing the planet – feeling love, respect and appreciation for all living things and connecting with the energy in nature. On the side, Deg Ajeet established Rosehip26 for Air BNB and Reiki Integrative Touch offering. Deg Ajeet received her Level One Instructor Certification in May 2018 and teaches a weekly class at Ananda Yoga in western Massachusetts.