karyam karma samacara
asakto hy acaran karma
param apnoti purushah
Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty, for by working without attachment one attains the Supreme.
from the bhagavad-gita, chapter 3.19, on karma yoga
i recently commented to a friend that -- given my current situation -- instead of my sitting around the house doing nothing and earning nothing, it made more sense for me to keep myself busy going around town doing something... and earning nothing. at least someone gets to benefit from my time.
take, for example, last sunday. i spent the morning volunteering at santa monica yoga. i checked in students, rang up sales, answered the phone, chatted with teachers and students -- the usual front desk work. it was a nice way to spend the beautifully sunny day; not only did i ride my bike to and from the studio, but i occasionally found myself walking around the block to get from the north studio to the south. and back. and for the few hours i put in, i earned myself a couple of yoga class credits. nice!
monday found me putting in more volunteer hours, but not anything yoga-related. you see, a couple of weeks ago, i had enrolled in a bicycling street skills class offered by the los angeles county bicycle coalition (LACBC):
Street Skills 101 is designed to give cyclists age 16 and up the confidence and skills to ride in all types of city traffic situations.
Day one features a comprehensive presentation on bike & helmet fit, the principles of vehicular cycling, and basic bike adjustments and preventative maintenance. On day two, attendees will develop bike-handling skills and learn essential evasive maneuvers on a vacant paved area. Participants will then apply what they have learned and receive constructive feedback that encourages safe riding techniques during a 5-6 mile road test.
Participants who successfully pass this course receive a Road 1 certificate from the League of American Bicyclists.
so not only did i learn the safe and legal way to ride around town, whether it be on busy main roads or quiet residential streets, but i also met the nicest group of instructors from the bike coalition: ron, chet, and jen. it was at that class that i decided to join the LACBC and offer them my support. which is why i found myself hopping on the big blue #10 bus to work at the LACBC office in downtown LA the very next week (and no, while i can now ride more confidently on my bike, i'm still not confident enough to ride all the way to downtown!).
this time, i put my 30 years of computer experience to work. i entered names and addresses into the member database, printed membership cards, and stuffed and stamped envelopes (yeah, i know what you're thinking...). but even if the work was a bit mindless, at least for me, it was just nice to be doing busy work again. and it also feel good to be involved in a group whose mission is:
"...Through advocacy, education and outreach, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition brings together the diverse bicycling community in a united mission to make the entire L.A. region a safe and enjoyable place to ride."
amen to that!
i ended the week volunteering at the symposium on yoga therapy and research (SYTAR) conference, which was held at the LAX marriott from march 5th thru 8th. in exchange for set-up duties on the 4th as well as on-site assignments on the 5th and 6th, i earned myself free entry to the conference proceedings, practice sessions, and exhibits. and free breakfasts and lunches, too!
since it was my third time to volunteer at this annual conference, i managed to land myself some interesting assignments. i assisted at the problem desk during registration. i helped set up and price books, CDs, and DVDs at the conference bookstore. i played timekeeper and made sure presenters stayed on schedule during a group show-and-tell session.
through the course of the conference, i was able to listen to and learn from experts in the yoga therapy field. i watched highly-regarded yoga therapists walk us through their own patient intake and therapy sessions -- eric small and his iyengar patient with multiple sclerosis, shanti shanti kaur khalsa and her kundalini patient with diabetes, and leslie kaminoff and his viniyoga patient with back and knee problems caused by years of professional dancing. i sat through timothy mccall's lecture on yoga for stress relief. and marla apt's talk on adapting yoga to life cycle changes in women. i did hip opening asanas with doug keller. and shoulder openers with linda lack. and learned from marla apt the modifications women need to make to their practice as they go through different stages in their lives, not only during "moon days" but also while they're prenatal, post-natal, peri-menopausal, and post-menopausal. who knew that teaching women yoga could be so complex?
looking back, this week was a chance for me to network with an interesting and diverse group of people. and even if all i did was just volunteer at various places around town, i was essentially in job search mode the entire time. so i'm keeping my fingers crossed that all my schmoozing has planted some seeds that might, hopefully, bear fruit sometime soon...