I had the extreme privilege of hearing my Yin teacher, Biff Mithoefer, speak at Satsang in Yogaville this past Saturday night. I couldn’t be there in person, but rather watched it on Livestream.
Here is the link https://livestream.com/yogaville/biff-mithoefer-2017/videos/165104878?origin=stream_live&mixpanel_id=136ac768f41187-0a97310953e1f38-371f2b3e-1fa400-136ac768f4220e&acc_id=20657620&medium=email
What he said blew me away. Sometimes it is just the right message at just the right time that really makes an unexpected impact. He spoke of recovering from the loss of his wife, the well of grief he was lost in and how he struggled to regain motivation to be in this world again. I had always held to the idea that in order to serve the world, I had to first serve myself; that by ensuring I was strong, well, at peace, that I would be a better servant. He turned that notion on its head! Quoting Lao Tzu he said no, that it is by being of service, by easing the suffering of others, by lifting others up, that we in so doing ease our own suffering and are exalted. Then after we have served, we come back to the Self and we rest and nourish so that we can continue this work. To truly serve, we need an attitude that is tied to Karma Yoga, the yoga of selfless giving. Whether it is parenting your child, or in your romantic relationship, or in your job, or volunteering how can you truly serve if your motivation is out of duty, out of an “I have to” mentality? Then you build up resentment that leads to suffering for all involved. By looking at the world as an extension of ourselves, we can discover that our suffering is no different from anyone else’s and that by touching another person’s life with loving kindness and compassion in whatever we are doing, whatever that interaction is, we too benefit.
It shouldn’t take the holiday season for us to have food drives and other donations for the needy or community service. Get out and volunteer for the next election coming up. I just spent 2 hours Saturday afternoon knocking on doors in my community talking about getting out to vote and it was so rewarding! Take an elderly neighbor something from your garden or something you’ve baked. I know Miss Myrtle down the street from me is going to miss my gifts of okra, tomatoes, and peppers now that the growing season is over. Oh, how her face lit up when I brought her those baskets of fresh picked yummies. It doesn’t take much. Let go of that excuse about time – it’s just now – it’s a relief that it is Now, its freedom to be immersed in the moment recognizing what is truly needed and not constrained by a schedule real or imagined. Just stop and turn to someone right now – RIGHT NOW – and say hi, smile with kindness, or get up and go outside and just do anything, something to lift another person up. You will make their day and your own.