Jan 21, 2011

Planting Seva seeds in Arabi; Down By The Riverside

  January 21, 2011
Arabi Altar in Swan River Community Center. "Like a tree, thats planted by the river, we shall not be moved."

  Last night was yet another heart felt triumph of joy, as we added our 4th location to include Arabi, LA. Arabi is located below the Lower 9th Ward, in St. Bernard's Parish. It is a close knit neighborhood that is still clearly recovering from the after effects of Hurricane Katrina, and driving there, it is a clear reminder of something that seems so foreign and far away now for so many of us. Truly, in all of my years of teaching here in New Orleans, I would have never pictured this day that "da Parish" would welcome, want, and encourage the perhaps esoteric healing that comes from India in the form that we bring it, with respect to the real deal and yet still implemented into our modern lives...juicy chants,  progressive and bold yoga philosophy, loving meditation, and physical exercise, the asanas. Yet, quite the contrary! Last night, we had 80 new students sign our guest log, and we had around 20 Swan teachers come support us. Good thing, as many of the teachers had to manage the hallways, and translate our yoga class, which streamed out each end of the hall, to the entrances. We had people doing yoga in our back room closet, and in the desk area. There was so much high vibration and enthusiasm in the air, that it humbled me. It humbled us all, the support and encouragement that we felt.
 *Co owners in the front room, Haiyan Khan, Michele Baker, and Keith Porteous

    This new center will be a community center, and is donation based. We are planting seeds of SEVA in Arabi. Seva is a Sanskrit word, translated as "compassion in action". It is a "kriya", which means it is a cleansing action, or flipped around, it means that by doing purifying things, the action itself becomes pure. This begins to permeate all of our actions as a result. We become far more conscious of our alignment of all actions, being steeped in them fully, and with all of our hearts.
   A tricky part of Seva is also the idea that we are only "in" the act itself, as that is all there really is, and all that we have. In the full absorption of "now", we are not seeking an approximated, controlled outcome, and have no pressing expectations, or future plans that we are attached to in the result of our actions. This is one of my favorite lessons that comes from the Bhagavad Gita. "act without expectation for the fruit of your action, and this will create a pure action". Not see easy, huh? Yes, not so easy.
So, with our Seva Center, we are living in total faith, and creating an opportunity for us to learn what it is like to just enjoy the work, the now, and the community, in service. That is all! With this, we trust that we are aligned with Spirit and the great Cosmic order of all things, and that by aligning in this co-participation, it will indeed work out, free of disappointment, mixed motives, conscious or not, and the mistake of blocking all that Spirit wants to give. Perhaps it does not exactly turn out as we would have pictured. I myself would never have exactly imagined a Swan River in Arabi, yet, it's a good thing that we were open to receive the fruit of the results, as this is better than I/we could have ever imagined. Being in the heart of now, it allowed it to happen, as I nor anyone else did not squelch the flow of this great gift.
   The last song that we sang after Savasana was a Johnny Cash gospel favorite..."I shall not be moved". 100 people in the lower lower 9 were singing this song with all of their determined hearts. We changed some of the words to go like this "Glory Hallelujah WE shall not be moved, this yoga studio, by the Mississippi River, WE are not moving..." OM OM OM
It rattled all of St. Bernard Parish with high vibrations to sing this song and to extend it out to our community. Community truly is the most important part of our yoga practice. It teaches us to share. Sharing, and getting closer, makes us all  stronger. Always. We are so honored to share, and to learn from the yogic path of Seva down by the riverside.

PS Did I mention it is such a heartfelt story that ABC's "Good Morning America" wants to come tour it, learn about Seva, and do some yoga with us in our studio? January 24th, 2011 at 5am CST. Check it!

1 comment:

  1. This makes me cry with Joy. You are amazing. St. Bernard Parish is blessed, and you will surely be blessed in return.