Seva & The Season of Giving

We are all very familiar with the idea of giving around the holidays.  We give gifts to friends and family.  We also tend to give gifts to our postal worker, package delivery service driver, teachers, hair stylist, co-workers, neighbors, etc.  And during this time of year we often make more donations (monetary or otherwise) to charities, churches, and other non-profit organizations.  Giving is a long standing tradition during the Christmas holiday season.  And it feels good to share our bountiful blessings with those around us, doesn’t it? 

In yoga there is a term that, by definition, means selfless service.  That word is Seva.  Seva is a Sanskrit word comes out of the long history of yoga, and focuses on selfless efforts that benefit the welfare of all, without an expectation of a result or award for providing that selfless service.

In practice, historically yogis would perform Seva as a part of their general way of living.  In more modern times, where most of us tend to life a life quite different from the historical yogis from long ago, seva is an opportunity to provide service… to give to others in a way that helps them without expectation of anything for yourself in return for that service.

And while Seva is traditionally meant to be something we do often and regularly, I think the Christmas season is a good time to introduce it to those who may not be familiar with it.  After all Seva isn’t all that different from our holiday ideals of giving.

I have heard it said that it is too bad that the “Christmas spirit” doesn’t last all year long.  There are even Christmas songs that wish it to be possible.  In truth, it can last all year.  That “Christmas Spirit” is something we each can choose to exude and share every day through Seva or other ways of giving and in how we interact with others.  The yogis of old have shown us by their example that Seva, those selfless act of serving or helping others, can be a daily habit.  We just have to decide to make it so.

Something to ponder this holiday season, and beyond. Namaste.

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