In the 1970s, in Salt Lake City, Utah, when I was in my twenties, an ashram based on the technology of Kundalini Yoga was thriving. We practiced Kundalini Yoga, did morning sadhana, operated a cleaning business, and enthusiastically tried to ‘live for each other.’
The spiritual awareness cultivated in Kundalini Yoga practice is even more vitalizing when it is used in service of others. In the most concise terms, seva means to give without asking for anything in return. To serve without reward. To uplift and inspire those who need it.
Nowadays, we are often not great at listening or paying attention. Even when we try our best, it’s easy to become distracted by personal intent, emotion, or disposition. Conscious listening is the act of being fully present during a communication exchange between oneself and another.
This summary is gathered from 35 years of experience in serving people with life-threatening illness and their families. Although some of what follows is from traditional grief therapy, most is from what Guru Gobind Singh (the 10th Sikh Guru) taught about loss from the example of his own life, and the tradition of Kundalini Yoga.
What I learned by moving to Greece is if you go into a new environment with the perspective of “how can I be of benefit?” you can actually build up a community pretty quickly.
The word “seva” means selfless service, but when I reflect on it, I think I get as much out of my acts of seva as the people I’m serving. Some of my first volunteer positions were in homeless shelters in San Francisco, and today I volunteer to support the refugee population here in Greece.
To be in the dark now is to live in fear. If you choose to bridge your world, then you will make a beautiful discovery: most people are good, kind and are more like you than you realize. This doesn’t mean that the ones who are acting out are bad; it only means they are the ones screaming the loudest to be loved.
We are each a part of the same family of humankind, and each step we take toward personal inner peace and conscious action is a step forward for the peace and conscious action of all.
Let go of the ego and step into service. We can make a difference every day by acting from a place of authenticity and selflessness.