Monthly Archives: July 2013

The 52: Lesson Thirty One – Are You YOU, Wherever You Go?

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butterflyblueskyOkay.  I know I am paraphrasing Jon Kabat-Zinn, who famously said “Wherever you go, there you are.”  In fact he wrote an important book with this same title.  His words are wise.

Don’t we often think that WE would be different if something around us would be different? Oh, if only I lived in Paris (or New York or India or Montana — fill in the blank).  Or, if only I had a more understanding spouse, partner, mother, child (fill in again).  Or, if only I had the time to study meditation or get my M.B.A. or take a vacation.  You get the picture!  If only . . . The grass is always greener, isn’t it?

Or what about this?  I am my most authentic, honest self only under certain circumstances.  It emerges when I am with  like-minded people.  But are you the same one with your co-workers, your “superiors,”  your in-laws, your children, your parents, with all your friends?

LESSON THIRTY ONE

ARE YOU YOU, WHEREVER YOU GO ?

Many years ago, I was teaching a yoga class at a health club.  This how it was when yoga was not on every corner.  There were step classes next door and people gazing through the glass to see what this weird thing, yoga, was.  One of my students, who I now realize was actually, (how can I put it?) really realized, as in enlightened, arrived at class early.  I casually said to her, knowing that she had spent a lot of time in an ashram in India with a very famous guru, “Oh, it must have been so much easier to have peace and quiet and practice yoga in such a place.”  I remember that she laughed a kind but hearty (filled with heart) laugh and told me that it is the same everywhere.  I did not have a clue what she was talking about. How could that be? How could it be the same, in an ashram filled with silence, incense, meditating people as in a noisy, sweaty, muscle flexing health club?

But now I know it is true!

Some time ago, I returned from a weekend program at The Omega Institute in the rolling hills of Rhinebeck, New York.  In the United States, it is considered a venerable place for learning, a kind of spiritual summer camp.  The place overflows with synchronicity, with energies of past and present teachers of Divine Love, with cross-overs on all spiritual paths.  Hundreds of us were there to bask in the place and learn something new.

It was intriguing to hear one person after another say how happy they were to be with others who were open to whatever they were seeking.  Over and over I heard the comment: “When I am at home, I almost never talk to others about this” — or that (whatever their focus on the path of growing)  “They just wouldn’t understand.”  Such is the pity.  So they were different at home.  But at Omega, it was a safe environment.  They could simply BE.

Yet even there, just like the most sacred locations in any part of the world, emerged  the ego identities we hoped had we left behind.  There were those who complained, who brought their “baggage” with them, who found fault — they struggled to BE something new or different, but it was not so easy.  I don’t say this in judgement but as a witness.  I know to the depth of my being, that EVERYONE is the Divine Light of Truth and Love, steeped in compassion, gratitude,  and forgiveness.  That is the core that we can rely on, no matter where we are.

I don’t pretend that remembering this all the time is easy.  It takes a measure of trust and courage to be congruent at all times.  I try my best but do not always succeed.  I do see improvement however…

This helps me. I hope it will help you:

  • Is it possible for you to witness yourself, as if you could stand aside and watch your own behavior in an impartial yet kind and loving way? This can lead to a better awareness of who you are being at different times.
  • When you know in advance that you may be in situations that will challenge your sense of Self, can you take a few moments to settle into your core — taking a few breaths or meditating for a while or saying an affirmation like I love myself completely NOW?
  • Do you sometimes hear yourself say or do something that you know for sure is inauthentic?  Can you simply mentally put a check next to it to revisit the moment later, to see how and why you took that action?
  • Are you able to stay “light” regarding your behavior?  In other words, not replaying over and over again those times when you felt out of sync.
  • Finally, and only if this is not too astonishing to consider, can you believe that all unfolds with Divine Consciousness and that you are not the “doer?”  Is it possible for you to venture the thought that the world is actually a “play” or maya?

These lessons are meant to help us find ways to feel lighter and happier in the world.  When you operate from your own truth, you will feel better.  Your life will be more smooth and easy.

Imagine being able to say and be who you are wherever you go!  It may take a little time to get there, but it is worth it!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Right Now, Are You in a State of Equanimity?

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butterflyblueskyIt is so easy to have our peace invaded.  We give up our own sense of calm at the drop of a hat.  Or maybe at the drop of a cigarette butt or candy wrapper discarded on the sidewalk.  “Litterer!” we might judge and feel indignant about it.  We might feel superior to another whose habits do not match our own.  Now I am not saying it is okay to litter, I am just asking if it is worth loosing your equanimity over it?  Or because the person driving the car in front of you is slow?  Or when something in the news is exasperating?  Or someone arrives ten minutes late?

Just how important is it for you to stay with that which really matters.  There you are, soaring like the blue butterfly, freely floating in the warm embrace of Divine Light, and then something trivial happens and you give it all up.  You know you can make a choice.  You can learn new responses.  You can establish a peace that is not interrupted or bendable.

Think about this:

  • If you can, count to ten before you react. Maybe it isn’t a new idea, but this is time tested wisdom.
  • Ask yourself, is this worth loosing my sense of peace, reacting to it?
  • You can react as usual, but as a witness.  In other words, you might say, “Hey, please don’t throw your candy wrapper there.” at the same time as you let go of the outcome.  You see yourself in a kind of play.
  • You might spend time learning to meditate or recognizing that, while you meditate, you have a familiarity with your innermost being.  Then, when agitation rises, you can easily send yourself right back to your peaceful place.  You know that place so well, it feels like home to you.

Most of us are easily thrown off base.  It does not have to be this way.  Trust in your own Divine Wisdom of Kindness and Love.  Always move outward from that very place and your life will be transformed.

Let me know what works for you.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

 

The 52: Lesson Thirty –Rest in Equanimity, Even When Everything Else is Chaos

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The 52: Lesson Thirty — Rest in Equanimity, Even When Everything Else is in Chaos

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“Equanimity — The quality of being calm and even-tempered, having composure, neither elated nor depressed, especially in difficult times. Other words that come to mind are unattached and undisturbed. Ancient Vedanta writings teach us that equanimity is our true, eternal nature, apart from time and space, where we rest in the peace and love within our hearts.  While equanimity is well-defined in Indian teachings, yoga, and Buddhism, it is spoken of in other spiritual belief systems as well.  St. Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-13: I have learned to be content with whatever I have.  I know what it is to have little and I know what it is to have plenty. 

Sri Sathya Sai Baba said:

Let the wave of memory, the storm of desire, the fire of emotion pass through without affecting your equanimity.

What would it be like, if the ups and downs, the constant shifting of good and…

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The 52: Do You “Steal” From Yourself?

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butterflyblueskyThis week we are paying attention to non-stealing – one of the ethical and moral subjects or guidelines for living and one of the yamas, in the Eight Limbed Path of Yoga.  To truly understand the depth of yoga and how one is transformed by it, one must go to a deeper place than usually expected.

Please read the previous lesson for an explanation and the questions you might ask yourself regarding the third yama, non-stealing. Many have been surprised at the various ways of perceiving non-stealing.  It is definitely “food for thought.”

In this follow-up lesson for the week, I suggest you consider whether or not you unwittingly “steal” from yourself.  Does this seem impossible?  We recognize that most of us function on two levels or planes while we are in the body.  Even when we know there is something called the Self, that which is eternally free and based in love and perfection, we all are at risk for wavering — for finding ourselves in the clutches of the small self, the ego and that which gets tripped up in believing that we are something other than what we are and that we are separate from one another.  Because of this, we are capable of “stealing” from ourselves. You will likely note that non-stealing and the previous yamas, non-violence and truthfulness will start to extend into each other.

Do you find that you “steal’ from yourself in any of these ways:

  • Do you steal from yourself the opportunity to be quiet and calm when you engage in activities or mix with others who could disturb your peace?
  • Do you find yourself eating foods and drinking beverages that could steal from an otherwise healthy, mindful  body?
  • Do you mindlessly steal from your spiritual life by letting the senses rule in ways that the culture may support but your spiritual life may not.  For example, do you spend hours watching newscasts or TV, sitting in movie theaters seeing violent or demeaning (to anyone) films, or listening to angry and jarring music or speaking negatively of others, etc.
  • Do you say certain words that you know are not your true thoughts, just to be accepted, and thus steal away your own truth?

Do not be mistaken by these questions.  We are free to make our choices and let go of judgement.  But you knowon some level, when too much is too much. Where is your “higher” self in all of this?

I thank you for considering these ideas and for taking the time to read this post.  I would never want to mindlessly “steal” away your time.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Twenty Nine — Stolen Anything Lately?

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butterflyblueskyWhat?  I am not a thief, you say.  I don’t steal.  But it may not be all that easy…

When was the last time you were late to a meeting?  Did you “steal” the valuable time of others?  Has it ever occurred to you that hoarding — keeping more than you actually need, be it food, money, possessions, could be a form of stealing?  Have you ever taken someone else’s idea and pretended it was yours, taking credit which belongs to another?  And how about stealing emotions from others — by pretending to be connected but actually being detached from them?  Or having “casual sex” which was only casual for YOU and not the other person.

In this lesson, we continue examining the moral and ethical “limbs” of the Eight Fold Path of Yoga.  This is one of the yamas.  We have already spent time with the first two — non-violence and truthfulness.  Now we turn to asteya, non stealing.  As you have seen, there is considerable depth to each of these concepts.  That is how it works in this spiritual study of yoga.  You can’t just say in a flippant way something like this. “Me?  I don’t steal from people.  I am not a thief.”  And maybe you are not and never have been.  Let’s see…

LESSON TWENTY NINE

ASTEYA — NON-STEALING

From the first time I heard of the yamas, my mind went straight to the Ten Commandments.  They were rules.  You could take an inventory and check off the ones where you deserved a gold star and the ones that seemed a little “iffy.”  At one point in my yoga practices, I went through each of them every single day, just before meditating.  I did this self-examination through the yamas.  At the beginning, just as with the Ten Commandments, I think I did some kind of surface evaluation.  It took a long time for me to recognize just how much depth there is to each.

Before saying more, please remember that these lessons are not meant to set up a sense of guilt or failure.  We have already ascertained who you are at the depth of your being.  That you are loved beyond measure and that IT is the core of your being. But we still live in the world, illusion or otherwise.  If we can better align our daily behavior with our spiritual Truth, we will certainly find ourselves lighter and happier.  There will be congruity.

Swami Sivananda wrote:

Desire or want  is the root cause of stealing.

This is interesting to contemplate.  If we are content with what comes to us, to fill our needs, we will not be tempted to steal.  Yet we are surrounded, from the time we are infants, with the notion that we need more, should accumulate more.  Advertising and commercials ceaselessly tell us about all the things and experiences we don’t have.  On top of all of that, the implication is often made that, unless we have those “things,” what ever they may be, we are inadequate, unworthy.  We don’t “rock.”  It is no wonder then, that we are sometimes willing to do anything to get them.

Here are a few thoughts to consider, remembering that you are “witnessing” your behaviors, not “judging” them:

  • The most basic idea in non-stealing is whether or not you have knowingly stolen something that does not belong to you.  This is not hard to evaluate, unless you steal without even knowing or thinking about it. If you robbed a bank or stole a purse, you know you have been stealing.  If you put an article of clothing in a bag and did not pay for it, you stole something.  If the cashier forgot to charge you for something and you knew it, did you steal?  Just think about what you may have taken that was not yours. whatever it was.
  • What about stealing of personal information, like passing on a confidence that was shared by a friend.
  • If you regularly play loud music or party late into the night, are you stealing quiet time from others?
  • Do you repeatedly interrupt conversations to make your own point?  Is this stealing?
  • Do you steal from the environment if you use more of something than you need?
  • How about stealing from animals or mother nature?

These questions are posed to broaden the concept of non-stealing.  Again, they are not meant to evoke guilt or shame.  The PC (politically correct) police do a good job at that already.  YOU decide what makes you comfortable and how you feel.  I might say that I could likely answer yes to many of the above questions — though I never robbed a bank or stole a purse.  At least not in this lifetime.

Let me know if you have other ideas to contribute on this subject of non-stealing.  I am always interested in what you think.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Have You Come to Your Senses Yet?

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butterflyblueskyOur senses tell us all about the world around us.  All five senses (sight, sound tough, taste, and smell) inform us. Yet many of us take for granted how we respond to them.  Over the years, our minds have developed habits of response.  We may not even be consciously aware of how we respond.  We see, hear, touch, smell or taste something and  — CLICK — we just responded without really thinking  about it.  Does this happen to you?  Are you aware of it?  Do you know that you first have to know how you respond and how your mind works before alteration takes place.

If we want to be lighter, happier, and more spiritually conscious in our lives, we need to understand when emotions and feelings percolate up and — BINGO! — SURPRISE! — you are suddenly angry, sad, disgusted, irrationally responding.

Please review the last lesson.  It will guide you to all the lessons I have written on pratyahara, the sanskrit word that describes one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga.  Did you actively try the exercises with the senses?  Did you learn something new about yourself?  Did you find that you were unwittingly setting yourself up, giving over control of your responses because you never actually thought about what was happening to you?

None of these questions are asked in a manner that is meant to make you uncomfortable or guilty.  “How could I be so dumb to not have noticed?” That would be FAR from my purpose. Everything is these lessons is designed to be approached with love, kindness, compassion. NEVER put yourself down.  I say this because I felt stupid myself when I first began to understand pratyahara. I wondered what took me so long to flail around, subject to emotions and feelings that only made me feel bad.  Divine Love and Consciousness were not very well-developed in my life then.

So be easy with yourself!  See what unfolds.  Notice how you can alter your responses.  Bask in the peace that is released within you.

No matter what, repeat I LOVE MYSELF COMPLETELY NOW.  No matter what!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Twenty Eight — What Do Your Senses Tell You?

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Have you any idea how profound the sense of smell and taste can bebutterflybluesky?  Consider this:  When there are bad odors in the air, people drive very aggressively and car accidents increase in number.   Did you realize that, for most of us, when we are exposed to the scent of lavender, we experience a feeling of peace and calm.  Examples are numerous!

Did you know that the sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any of the other senses and that the response is immediate.  It goes straight to the place where emotion and memory is held.

So watch what you are breathing — and tasting…

In yoga, we learn to examine the world around us so that we better understand how we are internally influenced.  This is done in many ways, but, ultimately, we come to recognize that the “play” of the world does not define us.  We come to know who we are as beings of Light and Love,  but this is usually a process and does not happen overnight, even if we have recognized glimpses of Truth in an instantaneous fashion. Most of us need some help along the way, often in the form of lessons and steps.

The Eight Fold Path of Yoga is a complete system to bring us to awareness.  In this lesson, today, we complete one part of it.  It is called pratyahara. It is about learning to control the senses so that we can better focus on our True Self.  We need to first understand the subtle influence the senses have on us, how to work with them, and use them to enhance our lightness, happiness, and joy in living. We have already spent some time with the senses of sight, sound, and touch (in Lessons 7, 14, and 21, if you care to review).   Now we give attention to the remaining and more subtle two senses — smell and taste.  They are surprisingly powerful and may influence you much more than you might expect.

LESSON TWENTY EIGHT

THE SENSES OF SMELL AND TASTE

Whenever I smell cookies baking, I am back in my mother’s kitchen at Christmastime, seeing her open the oven, removing the cookies and placing them out to cool a little so that I can taste one while it is still warm.  Anytime I smell a fresh tomato, I remember picking them from my father’s large vegetable garden, of his explaining about ripe tomatoes, taking them into the house and eating them right away.  The scent of lavender reminds me to be calm and restful.  The smell of peppermint, even in the peppermint soap I sometimes use, energizes and lifts my spirit.  Whenever I have a taste of chili con carne, it is football season in my mind. The roses I just picked from my garden always brings a feeling of love, romance, and beauty. Some say that when you smell roses, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is near.

What about you?  What scents and tastes brings memories rushing into your awareness?

If the sense of smell were not so important, we would not have access to thousands of perfumes and colognes, to deodorant and breath mints and even Odor Eaters.  We are a smelling population.

I have grouped together the sense of smell and taste because they are closely aligned.    Have you ever noticed that your enjoyment of food may decline if you have a cold and stuffy nose.  Smell and taste work together.  Smell is known to be the most powerful and primitive of the senses.  It attaches to memory and emotion in a way that the others may not.  It bypasses thought process and brings memory alive. It is the only sense that moves directly into the brain (the hippocampus and amygdala) through the limbic system and bypasses routine thought evaluation.  Imagine the power!  If one loses the sense of smell, usually appetite declines and food “taste” is different.

Because these two senses are so tied to memory, emotion, and survival, here are a few ways to become more keenly aware of their influence:

  • Make a list (in your mind if you like) of those fragrances and foods you find pleasing.
  • When you respond in  negative manner to either sense or taste, take note.  Is a memory being tripped?  Can you find a way to avoid the experience?  Can your learn something of value from it?
  • If you know your mood and sense of enjoyment in life is enhanced by certain smells and tastes, consciously make them a habit .
  • If your routine requires that you be around smells and tastes that are unpleasant, how might you adjust your reaction to remain in a state of equilibrium and at ease.
  • Can you see that none of these senses actually alter who you are, at the core of your being? Yet they can enhance your life.

I remember hearing a story many years ago about a group of followers of a certain esteemed guru who took them on a “conscious” walk.  Their mission was to see everything as part of Divine Consciousness, of God.  As they strolled along the street, a bus passed them, emitting a black cloud of noxious exhaust.  Everyone reacted, finding it repulsive, harmful to the environment, irresponsible of the driver — except the guru.  She reminded them calmly that everything is part of the Divine  — even that.

So let all of your senses bask in Divine Light, even as you bring more knowledge of the senses into your everyday life.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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