I made the choice to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity because it felt safe even amidst all the risks that come with construction. I volunteered with them in the past and had neutral experiences doing so. I also appreciate their mission of providing low-cost housing to people who help build their own living quarters and enjoy putting my heart into physical tasks. The organization also made it quite seamless to sign up and show up.
It was a relief to be greeted by clear signage designating where to park. I approached the area where the people were gathered and was glad to see there was a blank waiver for me to fill out after I trusted it would be there. It impacted my yoga practice by showing me that I need to trust that things will work out. The people who greeted me were friendly. I could not decipher the difference between the staff versus volunteers who felt grounded in their own shoes. I later learned that Johnny, one of the volunteers who is around 65 years old and has attended twice per week for the past 15 years, was the first face I saw. His relaxing presence set the tone for me to feel comfortable from the onset. It made a big difference to me that they were friendly which impacted my yoga practice by highlighting the importance of the yamas. I then had the choice to sign up for one of three groups. I selected the front porch construction group because I associated it with the awesome moments I have had connecting with friends on the front porch. At the beginning, the group was awkward, and I was in a goofy mood. So, I started just being outgoing with the people in a light-hearted way. I always love witnessing myself in this mode and am so glad whenever I am able to naturally access it. It feels as though I am allowing the divine to operate through me. It felt like I was going selfless service because there was nothing interfering with me letting love radiate. I saw myself as truly leading the group by jumpstarting our entire group’s good attitude. It impacted my yoga practice because it motivated me to do things like meditation more often that help me see my inner light.
I ended up connecting a lot with Karla, the future homeowner of the house who was in my 4-person group working on the front porch. She spoke very little English and had a gentle demeanor. I learned that she has two kids, Isabella and Mateo. They are 6 and 2 years old. When I asked what her kids were doing that day, she said one was with their father and one was with their grandparent. When we were tired at the end of the day, we mentioned together how the neighborhood was pretty with the tall trees and quietness. There was a point that involved me handing her pieces of broken dry wall down from a top level, and I could tell she trusted that I would not handle her something too heavy. She kept smiling at me and giving me that look of spiritual bondage with focused eyes throughout the day. The non-verbal aspect of our exchange contributed way more to the friendship than the words that we said. She sort of made me her go- to friend person for the day in a subtle way with looks and such. It impacted my yoga practice by showing me that I don’t need to say the most profound words to build a connection with someone. I do not need to put so much forced effort into relationships. With a general presence that is light-hearted, they can blossom so easily.
In terms of doing service, I felt myself going from task to task based on wherever I was needed which made me feel like a vehicle to carry out the group mission. I also noticed the sense of respect and priority of maintaining peace amongst the group of strangers. When I got tired in the afternoon, I got a lot quieter but still kept going with the physical tasks. At the end, I was lifting these heavy boards with a team member who had been so patient with me all day and had mentioned to me this was just the beginning of his hours of court-ordered service. He had a great attitude about it too. I also already had a solid foundation in my relationship with Karla, and it kept me going. Her gentleness kept me level-headed even in a state of not being in a great mood. It showed me love was able to have more power over mood which definitely impacted my yoga practice. At the end of the day, the last thing she said to me was that she was stoked she’s now finished 160 of her 200 hours of work that Habitat for Humanity requires for someone to become a homeowner. Her face lit up a lot when she said it. She was proud of herself. It was so cool to go through the day with her, be exhausted and then see her be so proud. I left so physically tired and felt as though my energy was so well spent on a great purpose. As I saw my self-love and Karla’s self-love, it impacted my yoga practice because it’s a reminder of who we truly are.