What is Seva: The Art of Sacred Practice

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

How will you share your heart?

One of the pillars of a spiritual lifestyle is being of service. In Sanskrit, we call this “Seva.” It translates to selfless service. We can think of this as volunteering in our communities, being altruistic, or doing random good deeds and paying it forward. It’s a beautiful way of committing ourselves to others, and knowing that we are all interconnected. Like bees working together to pollinate the world, humanity only flourishes in unity.

How do we practice Seva in our lives?

In order to make Seva a stronger ally in our life, we need to tune into our heart. This space is truly where unconditional love and giving live. Behind the veil of ignorance, fear, and ego, we are immensely open and loving people. We give and share without worrying about judgement or receiving the same in return. We love and help each other without attachment or expectation. So in order to tap into the power of selfless service, we need to bridge this connection between Self and heart.

One way to do this is to practice selfless service to ourselves. This may seem like common sense practice, but let’s think about it: being of service to ourselves is practicing kindness, compassion, and respect. In Sanskrit, we call this Ahimsa. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you speak kindly to yourself?
  • Do you forgive yourself?
  • Do you put yourself first?
  • Do you practice self-care that nurtures your body, mind, and spirit?

We may think that practicing selfless service to ourselves is a given, but if you hesitated on any of these questions above, this could be an eye opener. I know it has been for me. Kindness to ourselves is where Seva begins, because we can’t be of service to others if we haven’t learned how to be of service to ourselves.

When we begin this spiritual practice of inner kindness, we’re going to undoubtedly face years of memories where we’ve been less than kind to ourselves. It then becomes our task to practice forgiveness. We can forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know. I’m always reminded of Mel Robbin’s quote:

Practicing Seva in our lives is not about wiping the slate clean of what we’ve done in the past; but about accepting that we were only doing the best that we could at the time. Forgiveness lends the path forward to choosing love, kindness, and compassion for ourselves. It is truly a game changer!

Today, I invite you to look at yourself in the mirror. See your whole self looking back at you, and allow your gaze to take in your face, chest, arms, belly, and your legs. Then, forgive yourself — of everything you’ve ever said that was hurtful. Forgive yourself of words you’ve used that harmed your beautiful body, mind, and spirit. Know that these words create your reality and pierce your heart. Let forgiveness strip you of the fear, ignorance, and ego that stands in front of the light of your heart. And when you’re ready, love yourself. It may be an “I Love You,” or it may be a hug. It may be a smile, or it may be a crying laugh. Whatever you do, love yourself whole!

How can we share our Seva Soul and Heart?

When we put ourselves first, we acknowledge the inner capacity we have to give to others. It’s natural! When we come into a space of deep inner love, we only want to share that love with others. Remember times in your life when you were overcome with joy — all you wanted was to share that with others, whether it was through a hug or a joyful scream of happiness! It’s in our nature to want to share and give, because love is infinite. There is no scarcity in how much love there is in the Universe.

When our cup is full, we can live our Seva life. It’s easier for us to lend a helping hand to a stranger, or volunteer our time, effort, or money with an organization. So the question becomes: how will you share your heart?

When it’s full and brimming with kindness, how will you share from that space? In what capacity do you want to spread this inner light to the world? What sets your Soul on fire? Because when you find it, you’ll realize that the world needs your passion and your service; not because the world is in lack, but because the world sees your inner light and wants to give you more. Life is a constant reflection of our inner landscape. It’s, therefore, even more vital to practice selfless service unto ourselves.

If you’re seeking ways in which to be of service in your community, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I love most about life?
  • What brings tears to my eyes?
  • Where do I feel most outspoken and energized?
  • By whom am I inspired and motivated?

When you reflect on these answers, you’ll likely remember people, organizations, places, or topics that inspire you. Likewise, you could find opportunities here to make a difference, sign a petition, join a group, or pledge your time. Your commitment and service will always be successful because you’re coming from your inner place of love. It is pure alignment!

I hope this helps your perspective of the spiritual work of Seva. Likewise, I hope it helps your inner relationship with yourself, so that you can be a true agent of change and inspiration for the world. That journey begins with a single step of selfless love!

Aleks Slijepcevic is a yoga and meditation teacher, writer, and avid traveler. She believes in the power and magic of nature, healing, and deep inner wisdom that we all collectively share. She teaches throughout the world, and is leading a Seva Soul Yoga and Meditation Retreat in Arizona, with the intention of learning from the Navajo Nation in a service-based learning environment. If you’re interested in joining her beautiful group of adventure seekers, please inquire here. May it be of service!

Writer | Yogi | Traveler | Creator of #YogaSouhl (www.aleksslijepcevic.com)