In our previous two Meditation Challenges, we explored two questions which delve into the heart of the human experience. First, in order to tune in to our own wisdom, we asked the question: “Who am I?” (Find the “Who am I? Meditation here.) Second, we fine-tuned our intuition and our listened to our deep, driving desire by asking, “What do I want?” This week, we explore the third question from Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga Program. This question is: “How can I serve?”
Deep Chopra writes:
“Regularly bringing your current answers [to these questions into] conscious awareness enables you to be alert to the opportunities that resonate with the needs of your soul.”
When we transition from asking “what do I want” to “how can I serve?” we are transitioning from an ego-centric point of view to an expanded point of view where we realize how our action impact our communities. Even this littlest action: what we eat, where we shop, how we treat the customer service agent at the print shop, how often we wash our own yoga mat, etc. etc. etc.
Yoga asana and meditation practices are often done in a group because the communal setting reminds us that we are intimately connected to each other on the physical level. When you share breath with other people in the yoga practice room, this connection is obvious. Practicing as a group also reminds us that we are intimately connected to each other on the soul level. As your consciousness expands from individual to communal, it becomes apparent how important it is to treat every other person (and animal!) with compassion and ahimsa (non-harming).
The question, “How can I serve?” expands opportunities for fulfillment in life. It asks us to identify our unique talents and skills to discover how we can be of service. In yoga, we often call this dharma or ‘life’s way of purpose.’ Just as each cell in the body – blood cell, brain cell, skin cell, stomach lining cell — has a very unique and important function in the body’s health, we each have a unique and important role to play in the overall health of our community. Asking “How can I serve?” helps match our creative expression of our talents with the community’s needs.
And, luckily, it doesn’t require saving the whole world. You don’t need to carry the weight of the world on your chaturanga-strong shoulders. This is a only recipe for catastrophe and lots of chiropractic work. Instead, you simply need to ask the question: “How can I serve?” and listen as opportunities arise which match your talents and help fulfill your desires. The opportunities are limitless- I don’t even want to give you a list to start with because I don’t want you to limit your thinking to the usual ‘community-service-volunteer-actions.’ Your true dharma can be expressed through your family, your job, or your hobbies.
The following excerpt from Bill Plotkin’s work Soulcraft was completely transformative in my life. It reminded me—“Ms. Fixer-Over-Achiever”—that I didn’t have to fix the whole world; instead, my first job was to find and love my true self as an offering to the world. I hope this text guides your exploration into the question: “How can I serve?”
“The gift you carry for others is not an attempt to save the world, but to fully belong to it. It’s not possible to save the world by trying to save it. You need to find what is genuinely yours to offer the world before you can make it a better place.
Discovering your unique gift to bring to your community is a challenge. Your offering is your TRUE SELF. It is the most you can do to love and serve the world.
It’s all the world needs.” -bill plotkin
Today, I want to challenge you: not to change the world, but to find what is genuinely yours to offer the world. Start with this Meditation Challenge:
“How Can I Serve?” Meditation
- Sit in Meditation. Set a timer for 5 minutes. (Have a pen and paper handy.)
- Take 10 steady inhales and exhales to calm your mind.
- Breathe easily and normally.
- Silently ask yourself: “How can I serve?” Ask yourself these questions every 15 seconds.
- Notice the answers.
- When the 5 minute timer goes off, take 10 steady inhales and exhales.
- Open your eyes and write down your answers.
- Repeat for 7 days in a row. Notice how your answers change and expand.
- Re-visit the list next week to re-orient yourself with your true desires.