Monthly Archives: June 2013

The 52: Lesson Twenty Seven — Are YOU The Divine Self?

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butterflyblueskyMarianne Williamson, the writer and popular spiritual teacher who was  inspired by one of the most life changing books ever written, A Course in Miracles, has shared these words:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us…

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

Why, oh, why, then is it so difficult for most of us to believe and acknowledge this?

In the yoga world, we talk a lot about the Self and the ego.  I used to think that I needed to work hard to recognize the Self (the divine presence) in myself.  That I might be the Light of Love and Truth and Divine in any way seemed a huge stretch. Me?  ME?  Flawed me? Unworthy me?  ME?  Who was I kidding?  It would be lifetimes, I would say to myself, before I could even approach something so wonderful and self loving as that. A few times, I thought, why even bother?

Guess who was telling me all this?  If you said , “the ego,” you would be right.  Of course, the ego is totally invested in bringing on guilt, shame, helplessness, and fear.  That shadow side was ever ready, cloaking itself in oozing sweet words, so I wouldn’t recognize it.  Hiding behind trees and jumping out in various costumes, to masquerade as a logical, reasoned voice.  When the ego wasn’t showing off in cunning words, it was shrieking words so full of fear, I just knew I was low-down and a hopeless loss.  At the time, I didn’t recognize that I didn’t have listen to that talk, entertain those notions, or spend even an iota of time analyzing whether or not they had merit.

The ego, that nasty voice of doubt and fear, relentlessly tries to convince us that we are less than The Divine Light of Love.  If we really, truly knew beyond doubt, just how wonderful and complete we are and how much we are loved, the ego would lose its job.  Imagine!  Banished forever!

LESSON TWENTY SEVEN

ARE YOU THE SELF OR THE EGO?

Many years ago, I thought it would be useful for my students (and for me) to draw up a list of what I considered some of the attributes of the Self.  This is the list:

DIVINE

ETERNAL

BLISSFUL

LOVING

NON-JUDGING

CONTENT

LIGHT

CALM

AT PEACE

TRUSTING

PERFECT

I told everyone that these words express who we are, at our core and that, for a quick glimpse of the ego, just apply the opposite of these words.  I felt as if too much attention was focused on destroying the ego attributes, that it was better to focus on the “good” in all of us.  One of my students memorized the words and repeated them as she took her daily walk, letting them sink into her consciousness.  She said it helped a lot. Another student dropped a copy of the list onto the backseat of her car as she left class.  Sometime later, her husband was in the car with her and spotted the sheet.  Reading it, he asked if these traits were something she aspired to.  She replied (and I love this), “No.  It is who I already AM.”  Would that we ALL knew that all the time.

Here is an exercise for the week:

  • Take any one or all of the words and see how they manifest within you.
  • When doubt arises, remember that it is only the ego throwing water on your parade, diminishing you.
  • The Divine Self is naturally perfect.  That is how you are seen by the Divine.  Don’t get mixed up in thinking the word “perfect” is “egocentric.”
  • Apply these characteristics to others in your life.  If you see them in this light, maybe it will be easier for them to experience this for themselves.
  • Be patient with yourself.  If your thoughts start running contrary to these attributes, try a little thought monitoring as described in an earlier lesson.
  • Whatever your success level with this exercise, always end it with repeating, I LOVE MYSELF COMPLETELY NOW!

Oh, by the way, it takes some practice to “get this.”  Be patient and kind to yourself.  You might have already spent most of your life thinking just the opposite.  It is never too late to change…

Let me know how you do with this.  See if you aren’t lighter and happier! I am here to help, seeing ALL those attributes in you all the time.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, fo to http://www.deannemincer.com

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The 52: Bhakti = Love: Was This the Message of Shyamdas?

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butterflyblueskyI have been quite surprised and struck by the events of this week.

I had another blog written for this week.  It was all set to go. But I was driven to change it and instead wrote about Divine Love and Stephen/Shyamdas.    There seemed to be a dynamic energy pulsing at the Memorial/Celebration held for him last Saturday.  I felt compelled to share what I experienced as the bhakti lesson I wrote.

Anyway, I accept that I (me, Deanne) am not the “doer,” so if this is what unfolded, it was meant to be. And it came as a kind of gift.  It was not as if I knew Shyamdas very well.  Indeed, probably almost every one there knew him better than I, yet it felt like he spoke to me.  Call me goofy, if you like, but this is not an uncommon experience for me.  It has happened, always unexpectedly, on previous occasions, so I have come to recognize this sort of transmission/ mystical event when it happens.

Love is truly the message!  It is the reason we all gathered together, to share a love for Stephen/Shyamdas and/or for the family and friends who grieved for him.  Maybe that love was so great that the soul of Shyamdas could not contain himself.  After all, that is what bhaktis do, the love is so big it explodes in the heart.  Especially if you are a chanter, singer, musician, as Shyamdas was.  It becomes a living expression of that exuberant love.  I am familiar with this feeling — of tears of joy spontaneously falling, of feeling connected to everything and everyone with a purity of heart, and of feeling “home”  (as in hOMe) at last.

This then is a celebration of Love, of Divine Love.  Whatever brought that Love to a deeper and more vibrant level warrants my thankfulness and gratitude.  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Now take a moment and look at the previous post. There are ideas you might try to enhance your own experience of Love  — for yourself and for all that it!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more on “The 52” and other writings, please go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Twenty Six — Bhakti Shyamdas, Devoted to Divine Love

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butterflyblueskyShyamdas, a great devotee and follower of Divine Love was honored in a memorial gathering a year ago. I was privileged to share this tribute with his family and friends at the Connecticut home of his mother and my friend, Gloria.

I thought of re-writing this post, one year later.  but to me, it still resonates with an important message. I hope you will experience this too.  We all need examples of those who lived in the world, while not pretending that any of us escape the ego, some have moved us more than others. So it is in this reflection:

On this beautiful sun-filled afternoon, the time of the summer solstice, and with a full moon rising, everything felt auspicious, almost as if the space were energized by a special brightness  The sound of kirtan softly welcomed the many of us who were invited — the family and friends of various faiths, many of whom knew Stephen Schaffer as a young Jewish boy who frolicked on the lawn where we were now seated and others who knew him as Shyamdas, a bhakti yogi, who wrote and translated scores of books, who was a musician, artist, and kirtan chanter of renown, and whose unbridled love of Yoga and God made him an exceptional teacher.

He spent much of his adult life in India.  He didn’t follow the pattern of many yogis (and others named “das”) of his era, who returned to live in the United States and develop a following, (though some of this happened later in his life).  In most cases, seekers went to him, people like Sting and Trudy Styler, Madonna, David Life and Sharon Gannon (the founders of Jivamukti Yoga in New York), The Beastie Boys, and others. He was welcoming to all.

There is much to learn and appreciate when considering the life of a bhakti, one who ecstatically sings the praises of God, lives in that praise, and sees that all of us are part of Divine Consciousness. The times I met and spoke with Stephen, as I knew him because of my relationship with his parents, were not the simple ordinary settings — one was the memorial gathering for his father and the other was a wedding reception for him and his new bride.  I don’t think I quite understood who he was and what he knew.  Even as we spoke of yoga then, I was still years away from knowing myself as the bhakti I would become. So what I experienced and learned during the tributes yesterday resonated with me for many reasons.

LESSON TWENTY SIX

BEING DEVOTED TO DIVINE LOVE

How would it feel to be embraced in a feeling of love and devotion most of the time?  To witness yourself through eyes of pure love?  To see the world as lila, God’s play?  To recognize the Divine in everything around you? To know that this Love is eternal and will accompany your soul even when you depart your body?  These are some of the Truths that seemed so relevant during the memorial tribute.

How can we apply this, in our everyday life, to be lighter and happier?  Here are some ideas:

  • When you rise in the morning and before going to sleep at night, spend a few moments considering the wonder of life.  It could be in the form of gratitude or in something special that happened that day.  It might be simple like how comfortable you feel lying in bed. Anything!
  • Ponder the idea that you, yourself, carry the light of Divine Love within you all the time.  Think of it as a birthright, as a given.
  • Imagine that everyone you meet and everything you see is part of the Light and shares this Eternal Love.  You might bring to mind someone you love and see them surrounded by this Love.  Or, maybe even better, see someone who has troubled you or angered you, and see them equally that way.
  • Put yourself into the most perfect, dreamlike spot you can imagine.  Maybe at the sea or in the mountains or wherever you feel “at home.” See that place as a vista of God’s Love, of lila.
  • Try to hold on to this open-hearted Love, with complete abandon and joy.  And, if sometimes you lose that sense of joy (which can happen to all of us), be kind and forgiving and know that the feeling will return.  Just witness yourself without judging.

I don’t know that these would be words of advice from Shyamdas, they are interpretations of my own feelings of bhakti. I think he would like them.

Here is something he wrote in his last will and testament:

Jai Shri Krishna…What a lila!

To my entire family as well as to my circle of satsang friends and teachers: It was an honor to be part of it.

Know that the soul is eternal and plays onwards,

always reaching for the Beloved.

Thank you, Shyamdas.  We know your soul is very much alive, chanting even now. And as you say, Om shalom!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writings, go to http://www.deannemincer.com and to http://www.shyamdas.com.

The 52: Just Tell the Truth — Can You Do It?

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butterflyblueskySo easy to say — just tell the truth.  For most of us, this is easier said than done. Truth goes to the core of our being and our authenticity.  Don’t we all, at times, stretch or deny, the truth?  Do “little white lies” slip off our tongue?  Does being liked or approved of push us towards lack of honesty?  For most of us, this is how we live.  But we don’t have to!

In embracing the Truth of yoga and Divine Consciousness, we are already approved.  We are pre-approved from the time we were born and even before.  Not remembering this, causes us to trust the ego more than trusting our inner core.  Rather than embracing the light, we instead let fear inch its way into our awareness and behavior.  As I learned early in my yoga training and study — fear is the basis for all of our suffering and misery.

So go back now to the last lesson about Truthfulness.  Now I capitalize the word to set it apart from just plain old “truthfulness.”  This goes deeper than some rule like “do not tell a lie.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the renowned German poet and artist whose work, Faust, had a lot to say about Truth, said:

The first and last thing required of genius is,

love of the truth.

You don’t have to qualify on some random scale as a genius, just knowing and living with this principle is enough.  It makes you a genius in my book. But I am not saying it is easy. to be untruthful to others is one thing, to tell lies to ourselves is another.  We can only try, while still loving ourselves in the process.

So let go of fear.  Move boldly forward with Truth in your heart.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more thoughts, go to wwwdeannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson 25 — Truthfulness Makes for a Lighter and Happier You

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butterflyblueskyShakespeare wrote these words:

To thine own self, be true, and it must follow, as the night the day,

thou canst not then be false to any man.

Satya, a Sanskrit word,means truthfulness. It follows ahimsa, which means nonviolence. We focused on it in Lesson Nineteen.  Satya is the second practice we learn in the Yamas,  restraints or ethical guidelines on the path of yoga.  So, if you thought yoga was merely a bunch of unusual poses with the body, with some ways of breathing thrown in, you have missed the essence of yoga.

Yoga is and has always been, a spiritual path teaching us to love ourselves, to release the illusion of duality and to reach a state of union with Divine Love and Consciousness. Yoga is rich in its age-old wisdom.  The classic text, codified by a writer named Patanjali, the Yoga Sutras, offers a clear and brilliant road map for learning to live in the world but transcend it at the same time.

In this course of 52 weeks, I promised to show how yoga and other spiritual paths lead us to the awareness of the True Self, the eternal core of our being that is ever blissful.  This week, we introduce the concept of Truthfulness (Satya) and how you will be lighter and happier as your authentic self emerges more fully.

LESSON TWENTY FIVE

THE YAMAS:  TRUTHFULNESS (SATYA)

Can we be consistently truthful in all activities of our lives?  Is it possible that we are congruent in these three aspects — thought, word, and deed? In other words, do we have the courage and fortitude to be honest under all circumstances?  This is, for most of us, a very tall order.  You see, it goes beyond avoiding little white lies, it means being ourselves on all occasions.

When I first began practicing this “limb” of yoga, I actually thought it was about not lying.  I did not recognize the depth of meaning.  Then I heard people talk about the notion that, as Shakespeare said of being true to oneself, it meant being consistent under all circumstances.  People spoke of the dilemma of acting in one way with certain people and in another with others.  Which one was going to show up, depending on the company?  And further, if one projected a certain persona, then switched to another, how was it possible to remember which character was being played and with whom?  Putting on an act can be quite exhausting and confusing.  Better to be authentic in all environments.

The same goes for telling lies. It seems that some people are very adept at fabricating stories, not just on occasion, but almost all the time.  How they can keep track of their many stories confounds me, yet some are very good at it.  The concept of Truthfulness for them is unfathomable; it seems they are addicted to lying and often actually believe their stories.

Let’s consider some ways to analyze where we fit on the truthfulness scale.  Caution!  I am asking you to avoid turning this into a way to experience guilt or self-criticism.  We are witnessing who we are in a non-judgmental way; this is merely a  beginning point for making your life easier and more fulfilling.  A way to feel comfortable in your own skin.

  • When you are alone, are you a different person than the one who engages with others?  Can you accept and love yourself in every setting?
  • Do you find it necessary to play one role in certain company and another when with other people? If you do this, how does it feel when you are different from the one you are when you are alone?
  • Do you feel the need to stretch or alter the truth in your conversation?  If so, why?  How do you feel?
  • Do you think about who you should be, playing a role to be nice, but not necessarily real.  Do you make a habit of distorting or silencing yourself to please others? (This was one of my challenges.  Many women, myself included, are people pleasers.  I learned this early in my life.)
  • Are you able to speak truth in uncomfortable situations while still remembering to engage non-violence and compassion? Do you think before you speak so that what you say does no harm to another?  (Pausing, taking a breath, and witnessing yourself are all helpful.)
  • On the subject of lying — do you find that you have difficulty being truthful about who you are and how you behave?  Can you honestly evaluate yourself without placing harsh judgments at the same time?

Give yourself time to ponder these thoughts.  It may not be easy, but I promise you that it is worthwhile.

When I began writing this blog and sharing my beliefs and my personal life as a yogi, I knew that I was making a break through into Truthfulness. Still, I sometimes felt vulnerable and worried about the response to so clearly stating these ideas.  I knew that some of my friends had little awareness of what I really believe.  So this has been an adventure into exposing my authentic self, and it has been liberating.

I hope that you too will feel this liberation.  It is, I think, a courageous act and very worthwhile. And, best of all, you will learn to love yourself even more in the process.

If you have comments or questions or have insights during this process, I am here to help!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Confucius Says THIS About Silence

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butterflyblueskySilence is the true friend that never betrays.

That’s what Confucius said about silence.  Who doesn’t need a true friend that never betrays.  A friend you carry around with you.  You don’t need to text them or call and make a date or go out for coffee with them.  This friend requires nothing but your understanding that it is there, at your beck and call and will never leave you.  I’ll take that kind of friend.

This “friend” of silence, peace and stillness offers even more.  There you find a retreat from the frenzy and demands of the world.  Like giving yourself a little vacation, you can be there in a place where your are appreciated and enjoyed, where there is not guilt or criticism. Wouldn’t you like to spend a bit of time every day with this friend?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a person deeply connected to eternal wisdom and love.  She said this:

There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace.

You will find that deep peace of silence right in your room, your garden, and even your bath tub.

What are you waiting for?  An invitation to a retreat?  You have it!  A few extra minutes in the day?  Maybe that will never come.  A crisis that sends you into such despair that you must do something to find peace?  Better to make it a practice for all times, good or bad as you may experience your world.

Give yourself the gift or silence and peace.  No one else can give this gift to you.  You deserve it!

Look back at my previous post for more ideas about setting this pattern in your life.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Twenty Four — What Will YOU Hear in the Silence?

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butterflyblueskyYou can hear the footsteps of God when silence reigns.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba spoke these words, to share with us the depth of power and the healing grace of engaging in silence.  Imagine the notion of being so close to the Presence, Divine Consciousness, to God?  We don’t have to be literal in interpreting Sai Baba’s words.  Even without belief, miracles can still occur.

We meditate to shut off the cacophony of the world and to go within. We turn off our iPods and computers, our televisions and radios so that we can be on our own, without the trappings of the world.  For anyone familiar with the practice of silence, it is well-known that the real adventure, the heroic exploring, is within us.  But, if we are addicted to the world and its busyness, we never experience or understand what is so special about resting in stillness.  If you try it, you might meet with some surprises — like touching the essence of your own Self, your own transcendent wisdom. Anything can happen…

LESSON TWENTY FOUR

SILENCE IS YOUR TRUE FRIEND

My favorite Sufi poet/mystic, Rumi, wrote this:

Now I will be quiet and let silence separate what is true and what is illusion,

as thrashing does.

“Thrashing ” may not be a familiar term to some of you.  It means to beat or hit repeatedly.  It is also a farming term.  Farmers thrash the seed from the husk, separating it from the hay.  This I see as Rumi’s intent in using the word – to find the “kernel” of wisdom while we are quiet.

You don’t have to go anywhere special to engage in silence.  Often we think it is necessary to go to a retreat, a meditation “cave,” a weekend seminar — somewhere other than our everyday life.  You don’t have to wait for a special occasion or event.  Right where you are you can start.

A weekly class I teach is called Meditation in Movement.  We settle ourselves into meditation and then, while meditating, we begin to slowly start moving through yoga postures.  It is paramount to recognize that the depth of meditation does not leave us and does not have to fit into a box or set period of time.

Here are some ideas that might prove useful:

  • Choose an activity,  usually something quite routine like riding a train or bus or drying dishes or eating lunch, when you will stop, for a moment, and remind yourself to be quiet.  Be in the present.
  • You might become super conscious of your “routine” activity and let it become an impetus to be present and silent.  At one time, during a period of upheaval, I made driving my car the practice.  I focused on every aspect of my driving — my hands on the steering wheel, my foot on the accelerator, watching for traffic — in truth, I was witnessing myself doing these things, but from a place of silence and acceptance.
  • If it suits you, pick a specific time to be still.  Early in the morning, before the world “kicks in” too much, just before dinner or bedtime.
  • Repeat the word “silence” whenever you feel the need.

We are learning, little by little, to “be.”  To hone our skills at altering our perception of who we are and what the world represents.

It is a worthwhile endeavor and can bring riches beyond our wildest dreams.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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