Giving back, true giving back, is an act of giving where you do not expect anything in return. There is no assumption of reciprocity; gaining anything of value is not part of the equation. The concept of giving back in Yoga is defined as “Seva” - selfless service, with no expectation of reward or acknowledgement.
To achieve karmic balance, there needs to be a balance between what we give and what we take on a global scale.
In yoga teacher training, Seva is a separate part of the curriculum. Seva is its own subject, something viewed as another discrete task to be completed on its own in order to complete a challenging course. Under these conditions, Seva is regarded as something separate. We understand the concept of Seva, but do not necessarily connect to it fully.
With years of practice and dedication, we organically develop a deep understanding of how everything is connected. The illusion of separation, of black and white opposites, falls apart. By releasing our bodies, and breath, we calm the mind and connect to an inner space and wisdom. We are free to make the connection and grasp the entire notion that we are all intertwined in the same karmic web.
Our ego dissolves, we become more and more honest and objective with the stories we keep telling ourselves. The logic behind our excuses, the convoluted explanations, and our internal reasoning is all laid bare before us for what it is. Through consistent practice of meditation and yoga in all its forms – whether asana, yoga nidra, yin or pranayama exercises - we cultivate the ability to become a detached witness, a seer, an objective third party, that observes our mind free from biases. We are no longer automatically caught in the turmoil of our emotions and thoughts. We find the gap between our thoughts. We have built space into our mind that we can use to take a step back, find our breath, and see the truth about ourselves. We return again and again to the same practice of stabilizing our minds by returning to the immediacy of our experience. A tangled net unravels and becomes spacious, revealing the real questions. It is a long and challenging process, but through our consistency a wonderful shift happens. We cease with our self-obsession. We feel that we are not separate but a part of the whole. We understand that there is a union between us individuals and the universe. Like two liquids that react to form a new solution, there is no separation, no going back.
When we reach the realization that we are not separate, we aspire to give back. It is a natural extension. We are not afraid. We let go of the anxiety that drives us to hold tight to what we have. We dare to share in genuine manner, with no expectations to get anything in return.
We spread goodness and it matters. Even if we can only contribute on a very tiny scale, kindness is contagious and it multiplies. Together, by each of us making own our contribution, no matter how small, a tremendous positive shift will happen.