Monthly Archives: August 2013

The 52: Lesson Thirty Five — Simplify Your Life with Non-Possessiveness



Never heard of this word?  Unless you are a student of yoga, that is likely so. Yet, as one of the many layers or limbs we study  to bring our life into a place of peace — something classic yoga does very well — it is an extraordinary practice to know.

Aparigraha is a Sanskrit word that is defined as non-possessiveness.  Grouped with the many other yamas which we have thus far explored, it is meant to guide us as we live in the world, in our bodies, surrounded by so much that we might desire.  If you look back at the previous posts on the yamas, you will see that there is a symmetry with them.  They work hand in hand to offer points of wisdom.  With all the many objects and experiences that seem to reach out to us, from all directions, it is a relief to know how to let go of them.

Bear in mind that this does not mean that the goal is to live in a cave, without possessions, engulfed in full-time meditation (which some, in fact, do choose).  It means to live in a non-grasping, greedless, non attached state.  We can certainly enjoy all the benefits that the world offers yet remain apart from them and not needing them to define us.



The renowned yoga master and teacher, B.K.S Iyengar, wrote this:

By the observance of aparigraha, the yogi makes his life as simple as possible

and trains his mind not to feel the loss or lack of anything.

Then everything he needs is welcome to him by itself at the proper time.

I admit that this is a practice that has posed great challenges for me.  While it is easy for me to be mostly detached from items of luxury and status, I have in many times of my life been attached to experiences like traveling all around the world, sampling the foods from the most new and trendy restaurants, developing a familiarity with the arts on many levels — going to museums and symphonies and films.  It took a long time for me to recognize that I was chasing my tail.  There would always be another exotic location to see, another restaurant to try, another movie to view.  I slowly began to recognize how futile it was to keep trying to be “in the know.”  I began to that it was the game of the ego.

But that is not all!  I do not part with memorabilia easily.  I have yet to clean out all those boxes in my attic, even though I have not looked in many of them for years.  I am a perfect candidate for taking a course in simplicity of possessions.  And books are my greatest attachment!  I need to wear blinders when I walk into a bookstore.  At least I can see some humor in these traits and do not ever use this as a means for self-criticism.  All that “stuff” is there, and I tell myself, I live in simple ways on other levels.

As I believe that everything is part of Divine Consciousness, even those musty boxes, and that everything unfolds with purpose and at just the right time, I take it easy on myself.  Enjoying my life without attachment, I say.

So I write these words for myself:

  • What are you capable of releasing and letting go?  What would happen if you did not own this or did not do that?
  • Can you fully appreciate and care deeply for what you have in your life, while “packing”  lightly?
  • Is it possible to imagine how much freedom you have when you are not in the throws of desires and perceived needs?
  • Try this:  When you are on the verge of something to purchase, take a few breaths and see if the desire (which may be emanating from the ego) will begin to detach.
  • Do you know when you are clinging to something?
  • Finally, whatever your answers on all of this, it matters that you still experience kindness and unconditional love for yourself. Always!

This is really all about letting our lives become more simple and peaceful and learning how to truly enjoy what we have in a way that shines with the Light of Truth.

Now, I think I better start unpacking those boxes in the attic today.  Oh, there is time tomorrow… (That’s just a little bit of a joke.)

With love and namaste, Deanne

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The 52: Lesson Thirty Four — Love is Divine and Beyond Reason


butterflyblueskyIt is love that gives worth to all things.

These are the words of Saint Teresa of Avila, the Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun who lived in the 1500’s.  They are words of perennial wisdom and deserve attention in any era.

When I was growing up, there was not a lot of talk about love and what it was, what it meant.  It was never clearly defined or expressed.  Our family was quite stoic and of Northern European heritage; the adults were more the silent type.  While I may have felt a commonality with much that was around me, it would never have occurred to me that I loved all of this.

What about you?  Did you grow up with people expressing feelings of love all around you?  If you did, I think that is a fortunate thing.

The great Sufi poet/saint, Rumi,  wrote that

Reason is powerless in the expression of love.

It seemed to me, in those days, that reason was the only way I could get answers and figure out something so confusing as love.  I looked to books and minds greater than my own to define love.   When I read that Erich Fromm, the German social psychologist (in his book the Art of Loving) said that love between people, if it was to be successful, required these elements: care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge (which I can still recite by memory), I thought that was it!  I failed to consider that the answer to my question was readily available in spiritual literature and in so many places outside of the scientific, rational, material world.  I wasted a lot of time, (if time is a notion to be considered), spinning my wheels and suffering in the process.

Rumi also wrote this:

If love is in your heart, you will find your way home.

It is no wonder, then, that when I naively walked into Rumi’s resting place, his shrine in Konya, Turkey, that I got a blast of energy so profound it brought me to tears. I did not have a clue who he was and what was happening, but I knew they were tears of joy, happiness and love.  I needed to be dissolved in love, if only temporarily to know what this kind of love was like.  It  was a turning point, as were many of the new mystical experiences that were unfolding around me.  unbeknownst to me, I was transitioning into a bhakti yogi after all those years in study, as a jnana yogi. But, in truth, while yoga opened this door for me, it could have arisen from many other sources — from Christianity or Judaism or Islam or a myriad of other forms — I was ready to be bathed in love.

Now I am steeped in this love.  It is, at the core of my being, the only thing that matters and is authentic.  I have been blessed with many teachers along the way.  They arose from unexpected places, like the signs and messages and manifestations my mother sent to me AFTER she departed the world.  Recently, only weeks ago, another teacher just happened  to arrive in my life.

My husband and I attended a Fourth of July garden luncheon at the home of dear friends.  When we arrived, our hostess told me there was someone there I should meet, that we were both “spiritual.”  As my new acquaintance and I sat at a table in the shade, surrounded by flowering gardens, she told me instantly that her belief was in Divine Light and Love.  I don’t know about you, but this is not a frequent topic of conversation at most country garden parties.  I felt as if I had met an old friend, a kindred spirit.  We understood one another in seconds.  What grace, I thought. I felt intense gratitude. It was love at first sight — this expression of universal Love.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this:

Every man is divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.

You never know how or when there will a moment of “enlightenment,” when a spark of Love will be ignited that will alter your perception of everything in your life.  It could be someone you meet, a phrase you read in a book, a quote on Facebook, a sign from someone departed, a scene in a movie, a sunset, a porpoise swimming next to your boat.  It could be anything!  But your senses must be open for it.  Here are some ideas:

  • When you meet someone, in any circumstance, try imagining that you are looking at a soul rather than just another person.  See them through eyes of Love.
  • Take a few moments, or as long as you can, to experience everything around as infused with love.  Make that the words you are reading now, the chair where you are sitting, the device you are using to read this, the clothes you are wearing — everything. Then do this practice several times a day.
  • Soften your present, past and future with feelings of love and acceptance.  Set aside your “normal” mind based reactions.  You can go back to them whenever you want.
  • Now see yourself sitting in a pool of Divine Light, surrounded by Love.  Say to yourself: I LOVE MYSELF COMPLETELY NOW, then spread that love out to the space around you.  This, by the way, is not very different from circumstances  described by those who have near death experiences.  They feel complete and total unconditional love.  You can do this while in this life.  You don’t have to nearly die to know it.

I hope you will give serious attention to this subject of love.  If I can be of help or you have thoughts you would like to share, I am here for you.  Just ask.

You see, I know who you are.  You may be in disguise, but I know that you are the essence of Divine Love.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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The 52: Lesson Thirty Three — How Do You Use Your Energy?


butterflyblueskyWe are vibrating bundles of energy!  Our bodies.  Our breath.  Our thoughts.  All that is around us.  All that ever was.  No wonder we are inter-connected, at the primary level of being!

Energy is a precious thing.  It is not just what propels us in our activities, providing the stamina needed to function in everyday life.  Energy is everything!  Literally!  It is everything!  What does this mean to you and your life?

Do we seek to soar, like the blue butterfly, toward the light? Do we want to experience the bliss of knowing Divine Light and Love? Do we want to just plain be happier in our lives?  If so, then we must become acutely aware of the energy in ourselves and in everything around us.  We will learn that we feel different — better– when that energy feels pure and clear.  Do you ever think about  your own thoughts and actions and how they are affecting your energy (positive or negative) at that moment?

One way to understand this better is to look at the yama , called, in Sanskrit, brahmacharya,.  As you may recall, we have been exploring some of the guidelines laid out as the yamas in one of the most important books on yoga called The Yoga Sutras.  Endeavoring to follow these guidelines can lead us to living a happier, lighter and healthier life.  Conserving our energy through non-excess and through viewing all of life as sacred keeps our energy pure and powerful.  Brahmacharya means “walking with God.”



While this yama has often been described as indicating self-imposed celibacy and monastic living, it is far more complex than this.  It was thought that retaining sexual energy would allow for greater energy in spiritual seeking, and this is likely true.  But we live in an era different from that when it was quite usual for those on the spiritual path, (mostly males at the time and residing in India) to join monasteries for all of or portions of their adulthood.  It is not my purpose in writing to delve deeply into the subject of energy on only this level.  Suffice it to say that non-excess is of value in whatever we pursue.  Yet there are profound lessons to be learned beyond this.

Every thought and act is a movement of energy. What choices do you make, every day, to keep your own energy pure and loving and to avoid excess?

Just recently, someone suggested a new television series, praising the acting and writing.  I watched part of one episode.  The characters were cruel, insensitive, and distasteful.  The story line was dark and rife with violence, abuse, and double-dealing.  It was, in short, repugnant to me.  Why would I want to spend any time watching a program with this kind of energy?

Here are some ways to observe how you use your energy:

  • Do you deplete your energy in pursuits that are negative — like gossiping or listening to music that is caustic or viewing films that glorify ego and destructive behavior or reading stories (even the news) that are unceasingly unsettling?
  • When observing mistreatment of others, do you join in?  Do you bully just to be accepted?
  • Do you sometimes find that you over-do — in eating, exercising, drinking, fulfilling your “bucket list?”
  • If you can choose activities in your free time that feel good — like taking a walk in the woods or sitting and meditating or cooking a lovingly prepared nutritious meal or calling a sick friend — do you think about how fulfilling and boosting it will be to your own well-being?
  • Trust your own truth.  You will know, on some level, if what you are doing or thinking is depleting or diminishing your energy.   Go with what enhances love and light.

These are simple ideas, but we often are paying no attention.  We just operate by rote.  “Oh, I always watch that news show or TV series.”  Stop!  Pay attention!  What you are doing is having an affect — on you and on everything around you.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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The 52: For Breath is Life!


butterflyblueskyFor breath is life, so if you breathe well, you live long on earth.

This quote is said to be a Sanskrit proverb.  I would add to it, not only might you live long on earth, the quality of that time will be greatly enhanced.  You can do this  by learning from your breath and by being a student of breathing.

I remember, in my yoga teacher training with some of the most prominent thinkers on breathing as my teachers,  I was quite taken by this expression:

If you can control your breath, you can control your life. 

Ponder the meaning of these words.  It is a life changing statement.  I was both in wonder of it, the first time I heard it, and skeptical as to the enormity of the claim.  By controlling my breath, I could control my life?  How was that possible?  Now I know it be true. This is what I have learned:

  • When I am conscious of my breathing  — using proper diaphragmatic inhalation and exhalation in a steady, smooth stream — both my body and my mind grow calm.
  • Focusing on breathing, rather than outside influences, draws me inward and into the core of my own place of Divine Light and Love.
  • Visualizing the inhalation and exhalation as healing and spreading healing and calm within me and all around me causes a shift in my perceptions of the world.
  • Being aware that I am subject to the events around me, which may evoke stress or fear, I can remember to go straight to the breath to shut down the sight/slight mode.

I don’t say that I am perfect at this.  Of course, I sometimes forget and falter.  But, when I do, I don’t waste time berating myself or feeling guilty that I “dropped my guard.”  I just go on…

The poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, wrote this:

He lives most life whoever breathes most air.

Simple and to the point.

Now how are YOU breathing?

With love and namaste, Deanne

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The 52: Lesson Thirty Two — Can Your Breathing Heal Your Body?


butterflyblueskyThich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk observed:

Breathing in, I calm body and mind.  Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment. I know this is the only moment.

Do you think it is important to calm the body and mind?  Do you think doing this and paying attention to your breath can actually, tangibly change your mental and physical health?

For most of us, breathing is just second nature.  We are born and we breathe.  We breathe everyday until we take our last breath and then we don’t breathe anymore.  With that last breath, our body, deprived of oxygen (and the life force), has lost its support system.  It “dies.”

Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health.

Andrew Weil, M. D.

Are you ready to take charge of your breathing, your body, your mind?



This is not the first lesson in The 52 that has been devoted to the breath.  How we breathe is so important that many of us spend a life time learning the subtle nature of the breath.  The more we know about it, the more we observe how its functioning alters our health, how we think and how we feel.

Take the body first:  If you asked most people, they would tell you that they want a strong and healthy body, one that will take them through-out their lives without illness.  We may say this but do we do what is needed?  Setting aside the obvious — those who smoke or use their nose to knowingly inhale toxic substances — we forget that disease has a step up in a body deprived of oxygen.  Of course we know about lung diseases, but what about cell deprivation in all the cells of your body?  What if you never fully breathe? What if you breathe the wrong way?  What if you voluntarily stop breathing as a habit.

Does the health of your body matter enough to you to spend a little time learning to breathe?

You can learn to improve your breathing.  Try this:

  • Are you breathing all the way down into your belly? Or is your breath up there, high in the chest? Consciously, make yourself breathe more deeply, into the belly.
  • Is the breath fast and choppy instead of slow and steady?  You want it to be long and smooth.  Work on it!
  • Do you stop breathing?  When you do certain things or think certain thoughts or move your body certain ways?  Don’t stop breathing!  Keep it going.  When you “hold” your breath you deprive it of oxygen and throw off the rhythm.  Maybe you are “holding off” your life.
  • Don’t just check your breathing once or twice a day.  Do it a lot.  Give yourself some kind of reminder, a signal, something you see or hear and, each time, you are reminded to check your breath.  It isn’t a chore and won’t take much time.  Just do it!
  • Each time you breathe, take it as a blessing.  Breathe in love, clarity, good health, kindness, and breathe out illness, weakness, anger (or anything you want removed.

My favorite poet, the Sufi master of Divine Love, Rumi, wrote:

There is a way of breathing that’s a shame and a suffocation

And there’s a way of expiring, a love breath,

That lets you open infinitely.

What about you?  Would you like your simple breathing to change the quality of your life?  You have the power, you know!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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The 52: Love the YOU Who is Present Right Now!


butterflyblueskyThink about this: How would you feel if you absolutely and honestly loved the YOU who is present at all times?  Even when you know that you are not in the best form.  At those times when you realize that anxiety or fear has caused you to be other than the you at the core of your being? Did you know that you are loved unconditionally, regardless of how you are “performing” at the moment?

It should be easy to know this and believe it.  But, for most of us, it isn’t.

While we may strive to stay authentic and true to ourselves, we all falter at times.  I remember certain times in my life when even the most trivial action could throw me for a loop.  Things like calling someone by the wrong name.  Or missing an appointment.  Or getting angry at some little thing, like a slow driver in front of my car.  Or not finishing everything on my overloaded to-do list. (Didn’t I actually fill it so full that I could never get everything done in one day and then would feel guilt about it?)  In the scheme of life and the world, these are small glitches.  They are tiny dots on the tapestry of life.  What was not operating for me was the loving witness (me). I didn’t realize that, with just a little shift, I could engage the love that is always flowing from my heart.

So be aware and know who you are as you are functioning in the play of the world. But never forget that YOU are the Light of Love, and no one can ever, in any way, deprive you of this Truth.

I am your fellow traveler on this journey.  Love connects all of us.  I am happy that you are with me!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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