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Living Service

bridging the local and global community

June 24, 2010 by Andrew Baerthel

Integration. It’s been a consistent theme for both myself and our blog, Lightwaves. Almost 3 months after taking the Yoga Development Course and Hatha Teacher Certification I have begun to ask myself questions like, “how do I bring my practice into the world?” and “what does it mean to live spiritually?” In August, I will be leaving Yasodhara Ashram after close to two years of residence here. As the reality of moving to Ottawa and working with youth at risk comes closer to fruition, I am feeling inspired.

Over the past few weeks I have spent time working with students at the Crawford Bay School on some video and multimedia projects. Days after I sent my application to begin working with youth in Ottawa, we had a meeting with some of the local school teachers, and the opportunity opened up: “Can you start tomorrow?” “Sure.” Things have a habit of unfolding.

Starting next year, Crawford Bay School, with help from the local Eastern Kootenay Lake community, will be offering a mentorship program to students as part of the curriculum. Students will spend time with mentors who are willing to offer their knowledge and skills in a specific area where there is student interest. It is inspiring to see how the community is coming together to support a more student-driven learning model.

During the few days I spent at the school, it gave me an opportunity to learn about my expectations around teaching. What I think can be worked through in an ideal situation isn’t always realistic. It’s helped me to ground myself more in what teaching is about and come back to the intention that I started with: giving back, getting myself out of the picture. Through returning to that place, I become more responsive and open.

Andrew Baerthel – Lightwaves Multimedia Manager

Lightwaves. Through the past year we have focused on reaching out and engaging with what is happening in the world. In 2009, we took part in global events like Blog Action Day and the Charter for Compassion launch. During the summer, we joined millions in support of meaningful climate talks in Copenhagen led by 350.org and Avaaz.

Most recently, the Ashram participated in the Global Oneness Project’s ‘Screening Program.’ The Global Oneness Project is an online ‘living library’ of films offered free for download, streaming and on DVD. Their mission has been to explore the theme of interconnectedness through the lens of sustainability, conflict resolution, spirituality, art, economics, indigenous culture and social justice. Their library of films includes 25 shorts and over 200 interviews spanning a broad range of subjects. If you agree to host a screening with 10 or more people, you can have a set of DVDs mailed to your location at no cost. The only requirement is that you pass them along. If you want to learn more, or think you might want to host a screening, click here.

In this inspiring documentary short, Jayesh Patel, co-founder of Indian NGO Manav Sadhna, walks us through the vast slums of Ahmedabad, India. He agrees to take part in the filming only as long as the cameras focus on the people he meets. “Harmony between head, heart and hand is very important” he says. “If you work, then you understand.”

To me this is the synthesis of spiritual practice, karma yoga and of living a spiritual life: the challenge to bring intention and purpose into whatever I am doing. It is through challenging myself to step back from my current situation, observe a wider perspective, and take action, that I begin moving towards my ideal. Having the opportunity to work with youth is a more concrete result of a fundamental change that has happened in my life, bringing together work and the desire to give back into a balanced relationship, one step at a time.

This article has been featured as part of our June 2010 sustainability week.

On the GOP website, they invite viewers to take part in discussions, to engage with questions posed relating to each video. I would like to encourage you to explore the following reflection and participate in the discussion by clicking here.

If you see the problem then your mind works; if you see the opportunity then your heart works.” What role might the heart have in problem solving? In being of service?


  1. Thanks Andrew for this very thoughtful posting. We’re delighted that you’re coming to Ottawa and really look forward to meeting you in person!

    Comment by Joan Gamble — June 26, 2010 @ 9:08 am

  2. Hi Andrew, great to hear what is happening for you and wishing you the very best with the new work

    Comment by alastair heseltine — June 26, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  3. Thank you for bringing this to us.

    Comment by sue — June 27, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  4. lovely post, andrew! thanks for your deep reflection and sharing. it’s been exciting to see lightwaves evolve, engage and thrive under your guidance. congratulations on your new position in ottawa, it looks like you’ll have lots to offer the youth. good luck!

    Comment by roseanne — June 28, 2010 @ 7:09 am

  5. Hey Andrew, I enjoyed reading about the evolutions happening in your life. Taking it to the streets! you’ll be a great role model.

    Comment by Lizabeth Harrison — June 28, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

  6. Hey Hey Hey it’s a brand new day and the sun is gonna shine! Enjoy your move to Ottawa, thanks for sharing your inspiring work this past year.

    Comment by Erinn Christie — July 9, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

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