Monthly Archives: November 2012

No Thoughts. No Words. Just Silence.


In silence there is eloquence.

Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.

Thus wrote the great Sufi mystic, Rumi.  Why is it that so many of us are reluctant, indeed, afraid, to be silent.  To allow our thoughts and words to drop into the back of our consciousness and to rest in the stillness.  To simply be, with no adornment and without commentary on who we think we are and what role we play in the world.  What happens to us, the ones we think we are, during those times of quiet?  Are we still here?  Do we still exist?

What if we found that,  without all the adjectives that we attach to our name, we are actually MORE alive and joyous when we step into the place of silence?  All of those stories we tell ourselves about who we are and all the trappings we have in the world are okay, but they DO NOT define who we really are.  Only when we step aside, witness, and see through divine eyes, do we see our magnificence.

Silence is a source of great strength.

Lao Tzu

All of us can take the time to just be silent.  You don’t have to do formal meditation or go on a retreat.  Maybe you just clear the thoughts and words out of your mind for a few minutes just before you fall asleep or at a designated convenient time during the day or just before dinner.  See what happens.  Thoughts and words will probably rise.  Take a look at them, don’t get hooked, just let them go.  You might even repeat “No thoughts.  No words.  Just silence,” as a type of mantra and reminder.  Then, when you are finished with your “vacation” from thinking, don’t analyze what happened.  Let it all go.

Saint John of the Cross said:

It is best to learn to silence the faculties and to cause them to be still,

so that God may speak.

It has long been known that silence is capable of opening a doorway, a sacred link to the eternal being that is you.  There is much wonder to behold when you engage silence as a personal habit.  So take a moment to glimpse or fully experience the you that is ever eternal and embraced in love.  What could be more important?

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Thanks Giving: Joyous Food for the Spirit


       In a recent conversation with a friend, I reflected on my love of cooking.  I said that, if I had a free moment to relax, it would likely be with poring over a recipe or preparing a special meal.  In my mind, I would conjure the process of working in my kitchen preparing something that will nurture and nourish myself and those around me.  I can feel my heart open and a joyousness emerges as I think of the fireplace crackling with warmth, classical music or chants , wafting through the room, a fragrant candle with the hint of apples and pumpkin, and me, chopping and mixing up a blend of home cooked kindness.  This is, in fact, how it is in my Thanksgiving kitchen.

      As I set about to take various ingredients and turn them into food to offer family and guests, I never feel alone.  Instead, my kitchen is surrounded by memories and traditions.  It brims with remembrances of past holidays, generations of those family and friends past and present, of aromas and tables set with foods popular during the time they were offered.  Food provides a sense of community (of communing together) and connecting in ways that only food can evoke.

      I savor a  memory of my mother baking hundreds of Christmas cookies that she gave out to eager recipients each year — everyone from family and neighbors to the post man and the man who took care of her car.  My mother learned cooking, sewing, and other domestic skills from her own mother.  She, in turn, taught them to her eager daughter.  I knew that I was learning a skill but I was also learning a more important lesson. It was a lesson about how to share love with others.  Then, as my mother reached into her late nineties and lived with my husband and me, we prepared many of those same Christmas cookies.  She had grown too weak and fragile to stand at the counter, mixing heavy dough in big bowls. Under her watchful eye and taking her advice, we took the cookies  from the oven and offered them to her for the true taste test. Every morsel was an act of love.

      Though I did not know it then, the energy and attitude of the cook goes into the food itself.  Mixing dough, mashing potatoes, making the sauces — whatever the dish — it becomes infused with the predominant attitudes of the one cooking.  So cooking with attention to attitude is important.  Maybe even offering a prayer or affirmation as cooking commences is a kind gesture in much the same way as offering thanks for the food set on the table.

      Food and eating as a group has traditions that stretch back into the roots of our humanity and are shared in all cultures.  The “communion,” in religious ritual, brings like-minded people together in praise and commonality — perhaps even in rapture.  It is no mistake that food plays such a central role in all the important ceremonies of life.  Think of holidays (holy days) of all persuasions, weddings, anniversaries, funerals. 

      So it is with much love that I approach the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner.  I will offer a prayer of thanks giving for an abundant sense of love, for all in our nation, and in the world, for concern for those without family and home, for those present and past.  And, especially, to my mother, in thankfulness for the lessons she taught me all those years ago and into this very day.

      Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.  You don’t even have to live in a country where Thanksgiving is celebrated each year, you can make EVERY day one of thanks giving.

With love and namaste from Deanne

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What I Heard the Dalai Lama Say to Me


Not to confuse you, I did not have a private audience with the Dalai Lama. Rather, our meeting took place in the company of 3500 others, all of us gathered to see and hear the venerable teacher. While I could plainly see him on the raised platform, huge screens were suspended so that all of us could more clearly watch him as he addressed us on the subject of compassion.

Obtaining tickets to attend this event in Connecticut was quite a feat.  A lottery was held to choose those who might purchase tickets. I had not entered the lottery, but, on the night before his appearance, a friend called and invited me to attend.  Of course, I was thrilled at this twist of fate.  I was meant to go, after all.

The meeting led me to reflect on the role that Buddhism has played in my life.  Ironically, it was Buddhism which brought me back to God.  Having set aside the Christian faith in which I was raised and having parted with a belief in God, a time came when I wanted a greater understanding of faith and spiritual thought.  I found Buddhism to be my answer mainly because it did not include that confusing word, God.  It was within Buddhism that I learned to meditate, to look inward in a different way than pychotherapy addressed and to begin to explore spiritual writings.  It was Buddhism that brought me to the auspicious and ancient teachings of yoga, and to the multi-disciplinary spiritual path I follow today — one that embraces a profound, steadfast belief in God and honors all religious and spiritual beliefs with respect and honor.

Now, here I was,  in the company of  one of the most revered of all contemporary Buddhist teachers.  When the Dalai Lama walked on stage, I did not experience a dynamic shift in energy as I have in the presence of some spiritual masters.  I was not brought to tears nor was I astonished at the brilliance of his words.  It took me days to come to terms with his unique power.  It was in his very human simplicity, in his humility and gentle kindness that his strength was revealed to me.  That we are all one and, in that oneness, we all deserve to experience compassion, both in the giving and receiving.  As one of my yoga teacher friends wrote to me about the Dalai Lama, “He was such a perfect blend of caring, sincerity, and humour. I love the way he cracks himself up.”  He did! He laughed with abandon at his own words.

That, for me, was the essence:  sometimes the greatest lessons emerge, not from a place of mind blowing verbal proclamations or from earth shaking energy, but from gentleness and humor and acceptance.  So human and perfect. And what I heard him say was this:  Be kind. Be humble. Be gentle. Be human.  Be love.  All lessons worth remembering and cherishing.

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Hurricane Sandy: When External Power Goes Out, Look for Internal Power


We live in a world of uncertainty.  To believe we can somehow “control” what happens around us is an illusion.  Sure, we can make efforts to be prepared; that’s wise thinking.  But when acts of nature or terrorism or random violence confronts us, as painful as it may be, we should take these events and use them as “teaching moments.” 

I live in an area hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.  We were without power and lost most forms of communication for many days.  Our challenges were nothing compared to those whose homes were burned to the ground in Breezy Point, New York, or those who had a tree strike and kill a loved one, or the 40,000 New Yorkers who are presently homeless.  What do we do with all the hardship?

Giving, through volunteering or with donations, and offering prayer and compassionate and healing energy is meaningful and helps all around. Yet how can we feel protected from the gut wrenching chaos and turbulent  emotions we encounter?  This is where establishing a spiritual practice (meditation, prayer, breath work) shows its great value.  Beginning and maintaining these “habits” becomes an investment.  It reveals itself as an insurance policy when disaster, of any sort, arises.

Once we have received the gift of going within and we keep it as a steady friend, we have a place to go for solace.  Our connection to Divine Energy and Truth encircles us and reminds us that WE are far more than the catastrophic events unfolding around us.  That WE can retreat to our inner stillness and experience healing.  That WE are not alone but rather are connected to Divine Grace.  That nothing, NO – THING, can take away the values of love, compassion, and kindness that dwell at the essence of our being.

Even in the midst of the storm, blessings flow.  Nothing tests our resolve more than crisis.  At those times in my life when I have felt bereft of hope and immersed in sadness, I have always found this quote comforting:

The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.

Bernadette Devlin

If you find these words comforting as well, please let me know.  The purpose of these posts is to create an environment where we can come together in a spirit of mutual respect and kindness  — to create a safe harbor in a storm.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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