This is my last article for Inner Tapestry, which did not go to Press. The topic given was Selfless Service. I decided to make it a little more personal. For 13 years I have gratefully been asked to write on various topics. Here is the last article- let us know what you think! Thank you!
And remember we are offering retreats Nov 16-24 and Dec 26-Jan 2 too!
“If You Have Much Give Of Your Money, If You Have Little Give Of Your Heart”
DON’T CONFUSE YOUR PATH WITH YOUR DESTINATION. THE PATH MAY BE ROCKY BUT IT ’S GOING TO LEAD YOU TO AMAZING PLACES”
In 1997, at age forty one, on a wing and a prayer, I approached the three elderly relatives who had inherited our historic family home, where my great aunt had lived until she was one hundred and one. My decision to offer to purchase the house, which had stood empty for eighteen months, was a sentimental one. My humble roots stemmed from a small unknown town in northern Maine. The town was beautiful to me as my mother had seaped a love for these roots into me with summers in a rustic lakeside cabin reachable by no road, far from the suburban pressures of Connecticut city life. Maine offered lessons of nature, including healing. The family home had been originally inhabited by my aunt’s father, my great grandfather William Sewall. He had been the nature guide to a young Theodore Roosevelt for three consecutive fall expeditions, which included climbing Mount Katahdin. An unlikely lifelong friendship evolved between the two. My great grandfather had been of service to Theodore Roosevelt, the privileged young college student so eager to know more about nature and the people that lived simply among it. The second time my great grandfather was of service when he was called upon to move West and build the ranch where a grieving young Theodore needed his supportive presence.
Nearly 150 years later my husband and I continue to serve others with this belief in the healing attributes of natures’ beauty created here where once lived a small slice of American history. Where can we be of service to others in their life journey and what opportunities arise? How can we create a legacy or carry on another, such as this one, that we are passionate about? Who knows what wonderful lessons lie with the risk of selfless service (called seva or karma yoga in yoga).
Yoga today is a split practice, on the one end a billion dollar industry of commodities and commerce and on the other end a five thousand year old practice that can heal prevent physical and mental ailments. It is wonderfully admirable to work for charitable organizations when you have no worries of putting food on your own table. What is more touching is to see one who has little give much of themselves to others with unconditional love. In its brightest light yoga is a practice that serves the innocent, less privileged or injured. In another light yoga has become an elitist practice with high-end clothing, equipment, accessories and studios. Thus goes the polarity in our lives. Without darkness, no light. Without soft, no hard. Without hot, no cold.
A wonderful thing happens when you begin to become of service. Life becomes interesting, more spacious. To work only for your own selfish needs feels very different, out of balance and removed from your heart. Seva allows us to experience compassion and higher awareness or consciousness.
“The dedicated every enjoy peace, purity of heart.”
Ask yourself when and how are you of service? Perhaps your life feels too full of the complexities of your own existence. Yet something amazing can unravel when we put our needs aside to help another. When we put our energy into saving a shelter animal’s life, take a day of our weekend to volunteer at a shelter, give our time to environmental causes we believe in (my past two years has been trying to raise public awareness of the Goliath destructiveness and expense to nature that industrial wind turbines create) or take time to write a note to another in need we feel the reward of unconditional love. There are many moments a day when we can serve another, from a smile to showing up to help a neighbor, friend or stranger who needs our ears, our helping hand, our encouragement- the power of a word, an eye to eye contact, a smile, a soft hand on the shoulder.
These 7 steps give us happiness as taught by Yogi Bhajan:
Note that the 6th step is sacrifice.
2- Builds Character (“JoyceMeyer: A lot of people have a gift that can take them somewhere but not enough character to keep them there.”)
3- Leads to Dignity
4- Then Divinity
6- Strength to Sacrifice
“ I cannot imagine anything nobler or more national that that for, say, one hour in a day, we should all do the labor that the poor must do, and thus identify ourselves with them and thus all mankind.” Gandhi
“Duties to self, to the family, to the country, and the world are not independent of one another. One cannot do good to the country by injuring himself or his family. Similarly one cannot serve the country by injuring the world at large.” Gandhi
I started on a personal note and am ending on one- I hope this reader does not mind that I share part of her message to me as it shows the power of serving yourself and others and never knowing how you touch another. (small parts have been edited to honor her privacy but these are all her words):
“Your words made me stop and think about how disconnected I had become from life itself, with all of this wonderful earth around me, I had forgotten that we are all part of the earth and the earth is part of us. With that being said, we all are responsible for each other in some way or another. I work in an environment that is very hostile to my way of thinking. My point, I have forgotten how to be “human”. Thank you for your words, They made me stop and think of ways to start to connect with the earth again and find harmony and peace. Thank you. Yoga is offered here in many places in the valley. I will find a way to give myself permission to spend time with all that surrounds me. I also (with my husbands help), am taking of my aging mother whose health is not always the best. She developed osteoporosis and has reoccurring facture events. So, you see I will be learning how to give myself permission to attend the yoga classes. Thank you again. Peace be with you always,”
When I followed up to see how she was doing:
“I have not found time for yoga. But this last spring and summer I got walking my “butt” off. I entered two foot races, I came in a sad last but I finished the races. I managed to walk off a lot of negative energy and went from a size 10 to a size 4. Anyway, I also got myself involved in “The Walk for the Cure” here in North Conway. I am going to be involved again this year. It is great to be involved with something bigger then me. Yes my husband and I are still living in Moms’ basement trying to keep her safe. Growing old(for her) has not been something she has embraced as a right of passage. I feel very sorry for her, she is missing so much of life, and it’s beautiful gifts that a person can enjoy at this time of life. Yes I am still working for the same company. And I quote “it is what I do, not what I am”. I have not picked up a recent copy of Inner Tapestry in a long time. But when I do I always look for something from you. You always seem to be talking to me. And I thank you for your gift of love, life and peace. ”
I thank Inner Tapestry for these years of opportunity to be of service to others and hope I have touched other’s lives as this precious woman let me know I had touched hers. May you remember to do the same for yourself and others every miracle of a day. Donna Sewall Davidge (Amrita)
Donna Amrita Davidge and her husband Kent Bonham have been involved in the healing arts for many years. Donna holds a Masters in Nutrition and has been teaching yoga and meditation since 1997. Kent holds a degree in Music, chefs and massages and creates healing music. Their retreat is in Island Falls Maine www.sewallhouse.com offering small personalized retreats since 1997 for your healing. See our Trip Advisor reviews and join us on facebook and for our monthly e-newsletter.