How Charity and Inner Work Relate to Our Ancestors

by Sara Alavi

My father, Bagher Alavi, frequently wrote about how our charity and inner work, or getting in touch with the self, relate to our ancestral lineage. He contributed to several publications for much of the 90 years he spent on Earth. But he did more than put words on paper; he tried his best to practice the values and ideas he wrote about, even though he suffered great pain and unresolved trauma in his own life. He found space to cherish and love me, even though I was far from perfect. This act of grace that many parents practice can be a seed that bears fruit in the future. For me, it has led to a path of self-discovery and commitment to inner work and to help others find inner peace.

My beloved father grew up in Ahvaz, a city in the southwest of Iran. He decided to move his family to the U.S.—what he called “the land of opportunity”—in 1977. Even though he endured much, he faithfully dedicated himself to his family, but he also helped all those he could. He even received the Award of Gratitude in 2012 for his help in the Iranian-American community.

When he took his last breath with his hand in mine on December 22, 2014, seven days after my beloved mother, Aghdas Jazayeri, had taken hers, his eyes still held a gaze of admiration for me. My parents were married and worked hard for 70 years. Such stories create the deep sense of knowing what rings the bells of truth in our bones and that doing good by one’s ancestors is the right way. Great master Thich Nhat Hanh says, “If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”

Some dedicate themselves to charities and volunteer work while their families are starving for their love and attention. Some take extreme measures and risks to feel important, noble, good and loved. Donating to charities, of course, is noble and good. However, what we do is not as important as why we do it. We are all starving for love, safety and protection. Many times that starvation can make us lose sight of our true priority of fulfilling those basic needs for ourselves—first healing our own deep wounds. When we finally prioritize our families and ourselves, community and charity naturally follow.

As I look in my palm, I see my ancestors clearly. Their legacy and teachings have led me to follow my dreams as a wife, mother, certified yoga teacher and studio owner, director of a yoga school, clinical certified hypnotherapist, holistic health advocate and energy worker. I feel blessed and fortunate to have the privilege to serve and guide so many on their journey and to write about such topics.

Sara Alavi is the owner of Yoga Home of Therapeutics, located at 5801 W. Britton Rd., Ste. K, in Oklahoma City. For more information, call 405-470-8180 or visit YogaOKC.net.

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