Posted on March 28th, 2013
As a part of the Global Seva Challenge, yogis from around the globe spent a year raising awareness and funds for organizations in India supporting sex trafficking and slavery survivors through shelter, education, holistic therapies and job skills training. During this year’s Bare Witness Tour in India, I assisted OTM co-founders Seane Corn and Suzanne Sterling as they led 20 of these yogis through two weeks of visiting and connecting with the organizations whom they fundraised for. The yoga each day and time each night to process helped guide all of us as we ‘bared witness’ to the intense experiences that were present. The beauty of the Global Seva Challenge is not only do many yogis end up raising serious funds for these organizations, but also those who raise over $20K are able to join the trip and experience radical self-transformation as they see the fruits of their labor.
My first engagement with the Global Seva Challenge in ‘09 had me raising funds to build a birthing center and school in Uganda. The experience changed my life in so many ways. I had always wanted to give back, to help those less fortunate and had a desire to do something, but wasn’t clear on what to do until Seva presented itself on my path. I dove headfirst into fundraising, lit up by my inspiration and belief in OTM’s mission and commitment to conscious activism. The time in Uganda helped me to experience what it meant to truly be of service. It introduced me to our global family and how interconnected we are. It also helped me get clear on what was important in my life. I came home, made necessary changes and focused on living my most authentic life.
Fast-forward 3 years to India. Now in a different role, as an assistant, I was able to witness the participants having their own life-shifting experiences and support them in their own individual processes. Undoubtedly, we were all changed by what we experienced in India. The sweet, open hearts of those we encountered along the way will stay with me forever.
One organization in particular, Kolkata Sanved, made a huge impact on me. Kolkata Sanved brings dance movement therapy (DMT) to young survivors of sexual trauma and kids living in the red light district. We participated in a DMT class with 5 to 12 year olds and saw, first hand, the healing and freedom it brought these girls. The classes create a safe environment for the girls to play, create and find joy and comfort in their bodies. Each class ends with a version of savasana and some healing touch for each child. From this powerful experience, I was reminded of how healing movement, dance and community can be. It has inspired me to see how I can incorporate dance and movement in my own healing and bring this work into more places at home.
This trip has reinforced my belief that making a difference can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you raise $20K or you simply sit with a child showing them affection and attention, we can all make this world a better place. The beautiful girls I met in India have stretched my heart open a bit farther. I pray that through my presence, kindness and attention, I was able to show them that they do matter, that the world knows they are important and that they are deserving and worthy of love.
For me, living a life of service means living the most authentic life I can. If I am staying true to myself I will be of service to the world effectively, consciously and sustainably. To really be of greatest use, I must find my own peace inside, take care of myself and figure out how to make my life on the outside match who I am on the inside. A true life of devotion and service comes from within first. Taking care of myself by listening to my intuition is what keeps me living my Bhakti and purpose out in the world. Thanks to Bhakti Chai for their commitment to devotion through social action and support of Off the Mat, Into the World and Yoga Freedom Project.