By Deborah (Shivaani) Woodward
I was resistant and stubborn about seva at first. I couldn’t see myself doing anything but the kinds of editing work I’d done professionally for 35 years. This was in 2009, before Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati founded the Ashram. At the time, I did want to serve our Master Teacher as well as her Master Yoga organization and community. However, I wanted to serve from my identity as an editor only. In this way, for several years, I proofread Svaroopa® yoga course catalogues.
Then my body said, “no more.” I pulled back, unwilling to spend more weeks, hours and years sitting at a computer. I realized I could drop the editor identity. This shift was freeing and came as a delightful surprise.
In 2018, when I was asked to do seva again, I came to it with a desire to be in closer connection with our beloved Swamiji. I use a computer again, this time to manage a publications subscriber list, not editing. It takes a short while, just right for me. Even from the first, I did the work aware of Swamiji’s presence. I was grateful to have the opportunity to serve.
One day, I opened the list and felt an instantaneous surge of our Sadguru’s unconditional love. My eyes rested on the list. Then, in that moment, love filled my heart and expanded it. I recognized this as our Guru’s Light and Grace. I realized in a new way, she is right there. The closer connection I sought is always within. I feel a similar sweetness each time I interact with Ashram staff. The Grace of the Guru flows through every aspect of my seva, and through each person with whom I talk or email. With a stripped down, simple seva, I open to the fullness of ultimate interconnectedness. The sweetness, joy and continuing revelations and realizations bowl me over. This is at the heart of the Self that She is — unending Grace.