Monthly Archives: February 2013

The 52: Lesson Nine — Did You Meditate Today?

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Meditation is not a means to an end

It is both the means and the end.

                              Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti was an Indian-born scholar and philosopher, a writer whose work embraced no particular religion, but one who had profound wisdom in the spiritual realm. He stressed that world change could not occur through some exterior entity — be it religious, social, or political.  Change had to emerge from within.  While he never allowed himself to be described as a guru, a spiritual teacher who engages with a following, he was nonetheless, the voice of Truth to many.

Meditation, then, is both a practice, as something we do, to reach an end, (some would say spiritual enlightenment and waking up), and yet meditation is the end itself. Not to get too complicated — we just do it.

In the lexicon of spiritual activities, meditation ranks at the top.  In classic yoga, meditation (dhyana, in Sanskrit), is the seventh of the eight limbs.  If we thought of them as rungs, only samadhi, the superconscious state, would rank above it.  As I tell my students, I can help to teach the other limbs of yoga, like breathing and posture, but this state, described in many ways as realization or oneness with the Supreme,  is not teachable, it comes to us by Grace. So you might as well just relax and meditate and see what happens.

Here’s an idea:

  • After you meditate, try writing down your experience.  How did it feel?  How did you feel before and after?  Was the mind especially active?  Are you more calm?  More anything?
  • Over time, you will see patterns forming. These will help you.  For example, you might find morning meditation more pleasant and useful than evening.  You might adjust you time to sit in meditation.  It’s your own personal preference.
  • Not meditating at all?  Maybe you will write a few words or think of why you have made this choice.  Remember, no one is judging!  No one!  Not ever! (Wasn’t that the point of the last lesson?)

Let’s stay in touch on the subject of meditation.  If you already meditate, I will be interested in what you think of these posts.  We can all learn together.

Just be lighter and happier whatever you are doing and wherever you are right now.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more thoughts, go to www.deannemincer.com

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The 52: Lesson Nine — Breathe and Meditate. Try It!

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Meditate:  Interrupt those fifty thousand daily thoughts.

This was the title of a blog post I wrote last year.  It is worth repeating.  Can you imagine that your mind is rambling away with that many thoughts a day?  What are we thinking?  How could we have so much chatter going on, just filling up our minds (and emotions and feelings too, by the way)?  Wouldn’t it be nice to take a break from all that blabber, most of which is repetitive and non-productive?  Well, you are in luck, you can take that break.  It is all within your power.  It is called meditation, and it could be the most important activity you will ever encounter in your life.

At the beginning of these weekly lessons comprising “The 52,” I promised I would offer you practices that would be simple and include reflections on the body, mind, breath,senses, and the loving spirit within each of us.  I hope you have realized that spending even a little time on any one of these lessons can have surprising results.  If you experimented with being quiet and stop “doing,” you may have felt your life make some subtle shift.  Keep at it!

LESSON NINE

BREATH AND MEDITATION

Here are some words to ponder, written by the renowned medical doctor and gifted spiritual writer and teacher, Deepak Chopra:

Meditation is not at all a way of making your mind be quiet;

rather it is a way of entering into the quiet that’ s already there,

buried under the fifty thousand thoughts an average person has every day.

What a relief!  The quiet is already there.  It is just waiting for you to slow down enough to notice.  And in that silent retreat, when you step out of the world for a bit of time, miraculous adventure awaits you. If you already meditate, you know this.  Good for you!

Meditation is, by the way, not some difficult or mysterious thing.  Millions of people meditate every day.  It does not require miraculous skills or even deep spiritual wisdom, yet it is life changing.

Here is the plan:

  • Choose a time, usually first thing in the morning, just before dinner, or at bedtime.  Make it known to anyone around you that this is to be YOUR time.  No interruption.  No TV.  No phones or IPads.
  • Choose a place to sit where you are not slumped over but with your back straight. If you are in a chair, place your feet flat on the floor. In yoga, we would say, with the head, neck, and trunk  in alignment.  Rest your hands on your thighs or fold them together in front of you. Have your thumb and first finger be in contact.  This keeps the energy within.
  • Close your eyes and pay attention to calming the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and lower back.  Imagine a stream of warming light moving down your body. Softening…
  • Now pay attention to your breath.  Feel the rising and falling, evenly inhaling and exhaling through your nose.  If the breath seems restless or agitated, try to imagine and feel it becoming smooth.
  • Keep focusing on the breath or on any comforting sound, like so ham or om, or any mantra you have used.  Now let the breath and the sound join together in a seamless path drawing you into silence.
  • Continue this for at least five minutes, once or twice a day.  Don’t be discouraged if you miss or your mind wonders (it almost certainly will).  Avoid feeling impatient or judging. Expand the time if you are comfortable doing so.
  • Just be.  Nothing to do.  Nothing to improve. Just be.

Remember, there is no such as a “bad” meditation, but each one may feel a little different from the others.  Just go with it.  Try this and see what happens.  There will be more encouragement in a few days.

Of course, in the meantime you are loving yourself completely NOW –as you meditate — and in every single thing you do.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Eight — Still Judging Others?

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Dr. Wayne Dyer is one of the most prolific writers and teachers on the subjects of psychology, Divine Love, and the spiritual path.  I have enormous respect for the way he blends spiritual truth, venerable writers, gurus, and poet’s quotations, and his own unique humor and personal experiences into such a powerful message that seems to be applicable for all of us.  He said:

You do not define anyone with your judgment.

You only define yourself as someone who needs to judge

I heard Dr. Dyer speak at a Hay House event in New York City.  He held the audience spellbound for nearly three hours as he shared profound spiritual truths in the most simple language.  He described how, as he became aware that he had just judged someone, he decided to correct the situation then and there.  Many of us find judging so normal in our lives that we don’t even notice. We just engage the behavior, gossip, devalue others, pat ourselves on the back for our superiority. Or we notice and “fix” it.  Or maybe we see the judging starting, but we are tuned in enough to delete the behavior right away.  Then there is the step where the judging does not even start.  Where do you fit in this picture?

Let’s make it a lesson:

  • Do you find yourself routinely judging others, complaining, arguing without any conscious awareness of this behavior?  (Well, if it is unconscious, you might not be able to answer this part at all.) Let’s say you are in a check out line.  The person in front of you is slow at everything.  They can’t find their credit card.  You are in a hurry and are seething inside.  You might be calling them names to yourself or sighing and giving dirty looks. You think this is “normal” and you are justified.  What’s wrong with this incompetent fool, you might think.
  • Next step:  Do you see it happening and, rather than letting it go, you put a “check” next to the behavior.  Now you know you are doing it.  You notice how angry you are getting and act just as in the previous description.  But now you have noticed and something does not seem right to you.  You are not behaving “normally.’
  • Let’s say you notice it and it has affected another person.  Can you correct it right now?  You’ve noticed that the person is front of you in line is aware of your behavior.  She has heard you sighing and seen your angry face.  You stop and look at her.  You stop the behavior.  You say something like — I ‘m sorry, I am having a bad day or I don’t know why I am in such a rush or you give her some indication that you have calmed down and you mean it!  Maybe you even try to help her.
  • Now you see the judgement starting and you are aware enough to nip it in the bud. You just plain stop it! You know that this is a situation that would aggravate you.  Your blood starts to warm up but before it can start to boil you relax your body and your breathing and you back off.
  • Let’s say something happens, that would normally trigger your judging, like the scenario we are exploring.  You can let it go.  You can smile within and remember the old judging you and smile again at yourself.  Now the check out line becomes a pleasant and learning experience because YOU have made it so.  Congratulations!

Can you see yourself feeling softer, calmer, more loving.  Do you start to notice that you have a lot to do with how you see and experience your world?  Don’t you feel better?

I used the example of the check out line because it used to be a trigger for me!  My impatience and tight scheduling (along with a big dose of ego) would bring about those reactions.  How about you?  What is a trigger point for you? What might you find to use as a learning experience?  I’d like to know.  But I’m not judging!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more information, go to www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Eight — Still Judging Yourself?

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We do not judge the people we love.

So wrote the French existential philosopher and playwright, Jean-Paul Sartre.

These words hold a great fascination for me — and maybe for you as well.  If we see a world where everyone is connected in divine spirit to everyone else and that love is the binding element, then wouldn’t we suspend the habit judging of each other?  We would still hold the capacity to witness, to stand by in a state of equanimity and observe all that is around us, but we might engage other thoughts in the process.  Perhaps we would think of compassion, forgiveness, kindness.

Now this is the best part:  If we do not judge the people we love, what about judging ourselves?  If we don’t love ourselves then how can we possibly love others?  Nothing is more important than learning to love ourselves if we are to spread love from the place within our own hearts.

Remember, we are all on the caravan of love.  All of us are welcome.  No one is left out or judged or thought to be too small.  Groucho Marx, the humorist, famously said:

I would refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

Many of us would have to admit to this feeling, such is our measure of unworthiness.  So let’s just say that, if you want to join the Club, your invitation is waiting and ready.  There are no enrollment fees, no tests to take, no monthly minimum, no nothing.  You may not know it, but your seat is already there, waiting.  With open arms, you are greeted.  All you need is a kind and loving heart and the willingness to know who you are in the truth within you. How about it?  Can you love yourself enough to join?

Let’s continue some lessons in non-judging:

  • Whenever you encounter judging yourself, freeze the image you are holding.  In your mind, separate from the person in that image.  Imagine that you could just watch as a witness.  Walk around the one you are judging and engage compassion, forgiveness, equanimity.  Let those feelings replace whatever judgment originally resided there. Be kind.
  • Take that person, you, and let the circle of love lighten and brighten the one you see.  Let it wash away any negative feeling.
  • Now see yourself transported into the place where Love is all there is.  Into the Club, if you like.  Here, you are constantly bathed in the love of all around you.  How does that feel?

I can remember times when I said or did something so embarrassing or humiliating and, whenever I thought of that time, my body would literally shiver with anxiety.  That feeling took residence in my body and mind all over again.  Over and over.  I kept replaying it.  And for what?  To instill the negative emotion deeper and deeper?  What a mistake that was.

We will delve more deeply into this subject in the future when we begin actually monitoring our thoughts and erasing the habit of retaining those old images.

How does it feel to stop berating and judging yourself? How does it feel to shine in the light of Divine Love?  How does it feel to know that you are, and always have been, loved at the core of your being?

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more thoughts, go to www.deannemincer.com and join me on facebook

The 52:Lesson Eight – All Are Welcome on The Path of Love

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Come, come, whoever you are —worshipper, wanderer, fugitive

It doesn’t matter– ours is not a caravan of despair

Ours is a caravan of endless joy!

                              Come — even if you have

                               broken your vow a thousand times

                                 Come, come yet again.  Come!

These are the words of the great Islamic Sufi mystic and poet Rumi.  His poetry is among the most beautiful ever written and is filled with divine and ecstatic love.  Years ago, when I visited his shrine in Konya, Turkey, I knew almost nothing about him and had never read any of his writings. Yet, when I walked into the shrine, the loving energy was so profound, I burst into tears. At that time, I had no idea why I responded as I did.  It took me years to understand the richness of his words,  to experience that unconditional love, and to recognize that he was to become for me a guide to teaching Divine Love.  Now I ask you to join me on this journey!

You see, all are welcome on the spiritual road. It does not matter who you are or what you have done.  No one is turned away, ever.  None of us can pretend that we have not made mistakes, said or done something hurtful, or felt a sense of shame or guilt.  Yet we are ever invited to come back to love.

Our first lesson was to repeat the affirmation, “I love myself completely NOW.”  Perhaps you felt that saying these words would be false, that you are not worthy, or that, sometimes you are worthy but not at other times.  But you are worthy, always, in the site of Divine Love, of Consciousness, of God.

There is a powerful story in the Bible that tells of a woman who is accused of adultery and is sentenced to the punishment of being stoned.  Jesus intervenes and says,

He who is without sin among you,

     Let him cast the first stone at her.

John 8: 7 King James Version

Whether “sin” is a concept you accept or not, we have all done something we wish we could undo.  We are all in the same boat, so who are we to judge another?  Instead we might engage compassion, kindness, and forgiveness — for others and for ourselves as well.  Imagine how different we and the whole world would be under those conditions?

LESSON EIGHT

  NON-JUDGMENT AND DIVINE LOVE

One of the first lessons I teach in my yoga classes it to let go of judgment — of ourselves and others.   As most of these classes have included doing yoga postures (asanas), many students find themselves measuring against others in the class or against themselves.  I should be more flexible, they might say, or look at how much better I am than she is, they might think.  But judgment is never warranted and we learn in time to see everyone else as a reflection, as one soul meeting another.  Indeed, at the conclusion of each of these lessons and my classes, my salutation is “namaste,” the traditional greeting that means I bow to you and, in the purest sense, expresses a joining of our spirits in union and respect.

For this week:

  • Become aware of times when you are judging yourself harshly.  Instead, remember that you are always in the Divine circle of love.  Repeat the affirmation — I love myself completely NOW and mean it.
  •  If you harken back to actions and times when you denied yourself this love, reframe your thinking and see yourself bathed in love and acceptance.
  • Be vigilant in noting judgment.  Sometimes we are blind to a habit of judging and let the unbridled damage continue.  We only, after all, hurt ourselves. Take action.  Change the way you see yourself.

Resolve to remember that you are never outside the circle of love, that, even when you stumble (as we all do) you come again, as Rumi suggests.  You get back on track, “in the saddle,” and keep going.  We are all in the caravan of endless joy when we learn to shift our awareness.  Come.  Come yet again!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more teachings, please go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Seeing the World Anew

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However your mind is, however your heart is,

however your attitude is, that’s how you see your world.

Swami Muktananda

Instead of taking for granted all that is around us, we have spent time this week examining what we see in our own world.  We have noticed if we respond positively or negatively to what we take in through our eyes.  I have suggested that you might take action in bringing into your field of vision visual items and scenes that are comforting and appealing to you.  In doing so, you might have been aware of a shift in your attitude.

Here is an example I can mention right now.  I am looking out of my office window.  I can see a snow-covered lawn and evergreen trees.  I find this vision generally soothing but there is a lot of snow now.  Will the deer and squirrels make it through all of this snow? I could give attention to this. But I have also placed corn and apples and thistle seed outside.  Now I see that the squirrels are coming with their flickering tails.  And there are a few deer tracks in the snow.  All kinds of birds have alighted to partake of the seeds and corn.  This scene gives me great pleasure and happiness and I feel united with nature.  I “put” those animal treats out myself so I could be made happy at watching this little backyard menagerie.  On the other hand, I also understand that this scene is my own “play” that I have created.

Earlier this week, we did some experiments in seeing our world and testing certain realities. Did you notice that positive and negative responses were evoked by some of what you observed? What happened when you surveyed all objects and tried being neutral about all of them?  When you closed your eyes, did they seem to be still there? Try this:

  • Return to our affirmation about loving yourself.  Calm your body and breath, be silent for a while.  Envision love flowing through you and around you.  Now let that love extend to everything you see with your eyes.  Can you do this?  Does it take some practice?
  • We say that everything, everything, is part of Divine Consciousness, part of God and Love.  Can you imagine that?
  • In yoga, we talk about energy centers on the body, called chakras and nadis.  One of these is located in the area between the eyebrows.  It is where you might see a mark on the face of many Indian people.  We call it “the third eye.”  It is how we see the world through divine wisdom, not through the physical eyes. What if you saw the world that way, saturated with love.

Spend the rest of this lesson noticing how you see the world and how it influences you.  Maybe you will see love as an extension of your own loving self.  What if there is no separation between the loving you and all the love in the world?  Could you BE the actual source of that love?  Just wondering…

I’ll be “seeing” you in the next lesson.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more thoughts, go to www.deannemincer.com and to my Facebook page

The 52: Lesson Seven — You See and Create the World Around You

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Seven billion pairs of eyes look out on their world and believe they are seeing what is there.  No two of them will see the same thing.  Oh, sure, there may be agreement on the name of an object but what is attributed to that object will not be the same.  This is because we are the ones giving meaning to all that surrounds us.

Pratyahara (the control or withdrawal of the senses) is one of the eight “limbs” of classic yoga as described in the authoritative work that describes yoga, The Yoga Sutras.  This important book, written by Pantajali, holds in its pages much of the essence of yoga.   It outlines the true path, far beyond the way most Westerners understand yoga, as mostly yoga poses and the breath. In the course of our studies, we will give focus to these lesser known aspects of yoga, most particularly dhyana, meditation.  But now for a glimpse of pratyahara:

If you meditate, you may have familiarity with the sophistication of withdrawing the senses.  For those new to this idea, I like to first bring attention to the senses, so that we can begin to recognize their influence, use them for our benefit, and then proceed, if we wish, to withdraw from them completely.

The Truths that emanate from so many spiritual disciplines, like yoga, lead to experiencing the world in ways not generally recognized outside of the spiritual realm.  For most of us, it takes some time to realize that the world is not what it seems to be.  Our rational, left brain thinking is not attuned to “seeing” in these new ways.  Let’s try this:

  • Look around you.  “See” all that is present.  Leave nothing out. Think of the names of all that you see.  You had to learn these, you know, as you grew up.  They were taught to you in your own language.
  • As you see them, ponder any emotional reaction you have to what is around you.  This too you had to learn, through experience and teaching.
  • Now notice that everything you see is defined completely by you – in its name as you learned it and in your emotional reaction to it.  In this sense, you created it as it is.
  • Now see if you can imagine that all that you are seeing is “neutral,” without a reaction.  Let everything be neutral for a while.  Does this seem odd?
  • Relax your eyes.  Let them close.  Is everything still “out there” even if you aren’t seeing with your physical eyes?

That’s all you have to do for now.  Whatever you experience, just ponder it.  All of this that you see seems to be outside of you.  Or where is it?  We are just playing with concepts.  Stretching ourselves a bit.  Testing reality. In time, we will consider “seeing” again.

I hope you are “seeing” these lessons as interesting, entertaining, and maybe even curious.  All of that is good.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to www.deannemincer.com