The Journey is the Goal by Suzanne Sterling
For the entire last year I was privileged to be facilitator for a bi-monthly phone call in which the Seva Challenge participants discussed their process and progress in the daunting task of raising 20k each. From the beginning, we stressed the importance of creating concrete goals, building teams of support and reaching out to local yoga students and communities beyond studio lines. What we didn't anticipate was the way in which each participant would have to find within themselves the perfect combination of will and surrender. The way each person would have to connect with their passion and purpose and give it voice not once, but over and over again. The way in which, although friends and family sometimes fell short of our expectations, total strangers would create events and offer support beyond our wildest dreams. The way in which miracles came from surprising and unlikely places. The way in which we had to place our trust in something bigger than us.
Some worked tirelessly, planned meticulously and had disasters happen. Some created a single event that raised thousands. Others gave voice to the challenge in every single yoga class taught or attended, in line at the grocery store and in a thousand small ways that added up over the course of the year. There were donation boxes placed in studios, silent auctions, yoga marathons, yoga studio tours, t-shirts and other products created and sold and many more creative and successful fundraising ideas made manifest. But the primary gift that most received was the sense of empowerment that comes, not necessarily from reaching the goal but from taking action.
Those of us participating in the calls learned some valuable lessons from sharing our joys,ideas, failures and accomplishments with each other. We learned that most people yearn to be of service and don't know where to start. We learned that when we acknowledge our fears and step forward in any way, we are taking that one bold risk that is genius and setting forces in motion that have far reaching and unforeseen effects. We learned to trust the mystery. We learned to marry the mystical and the practical in perfect union setting us on the path of love in action.
We learned firsthand the ways in which we in the yoga community can support each other to take risks and take our yoga off the mat and into the world... into our everyday world, the world in our backyard, the world at large and the world of a child halfway around the globe. We gained a visceral sense of the way in which we are all a part of the web of life... all connected... and that each of us has something crucial to offer that web - our courage, our determination our passion and our voice.
One of the most amazing things that happened was that those participants who raised some but not all the funds were willing to "pay it forward" allowing others to reach the goal and be part of this groundbreaking humanitarian tour.
And here we are... in Phnom Penh. Tonight the 20 participants arrive from all over the US and Canada and tomorrow we will begin our work here…but we are all aware that in some ways our Seva, our service and our learning has been happening all year. We have gained a deeper understanding that the process is the teaching and is indeed our yoga. Showing up in each moment, boldly, humbly, with a bow to the mystery, we are already in deep service to the world. - Suzanne Sterling
Suzanne is an ecstatic vocalist and composer whose devotional music has been called a "groove-loving and seductive journey into Spirit". She brings a special blend of yoga, music and sacred ceremony to conferences and festivals worldwide. Suzanne is a co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World, a project offering nationwide training programs combining yoga and sustainable activism and is one of the Seva Challenge trip leaders. www.suzannesterling.com