Monthly Archives: October 2013

The 52: Lesson Forty Four — I Was Just Thinking…

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butterflyblueskyStop!  Right now!  What have you been thinking?  Do you even know?

Thoughts have power and energy within them.  That’s a fact.  Some say, “As you think, so you become.”  Unfortunately, most of us just think the same old stuff over and over again, as if the mind runs by itself and has a “mind” of its own.  It is on automatic pilot. THAT is a problem.  While you are far more than your mind, it IS your mind.  So pay attention. That pesky mind, when it aligns with the ego, can do a lot of damage. It can end up defining you in ways you might not prefer.

I have written on this subject before. I urge you to go back and look at Lesson 16.  It offers a valuable means of monitoring and changing thought patterns.  Following that practice was life changing for me.  It could do the same for you.  Try it.

LESSON FORTY FOUR

HOW THOUGHTS AFFECT WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE

Yoga and other spiritual paths are rich with words defining the mind.  In fact, with regard to yoga, some would say understanding the mind and letting it go IS the definition of yoga.  As Patanjali wrote in the Yoga Sutras:

Yoga is cessation of the modifications of the mind.

And in the Yoga Vasishtha:

The world is produced from the mind alone, like the waters of a mirage.

It manifests in the form of fleeting thoughts,

which are as illusory as the reflections of the moon on water.

Without doubt, these are potent concepts and not likely to appeal to those new to them.  So let’s take smaller steps.  I have earlier written on thought monitoring and learning to know what you think, then taking action to alter those thoughts.  This time I will draw from a course I studied some years ago. It is called The Sedona Method.  The man who developed it, Lester Levenson, a highly successful and innovative physicist, entrepreneur in New York City, was in such ill-health and was, in effect, given a “death sentence” by his doctors.  Instead of retreating and waiting to die, he found a means to help himself.  Thus, The Sedona Method.  Breaking it down into a nutshell does not do justice to his work, but here is a taste:

This provides an easy way to tell if you are thinking in the realm of the ego (not your “friend”) or the True Self (the place of divine connection and alignment).  When you are disturbed, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this thought about gaining control over something or someone?
  • Am I looking for approval in this thought?
  • Is my motivation the desire for survival?

If you are answering yes to one or more of these questions, then you are in the clutches of the ego (as defined in yoga, not by Freud).  Remember the ego is the opposite of the Self.  Some have said that the object of many spiritual paths is to recognize the ego and to dis-engage it or, some say, destroy it.  I prefer the notion of recognizing it, noting it, and then sending it on its way — maybe even with a little laugh.  The ego hates to be laughed at.

Try asking yourself these questions and see what results.  We are functioning in this world play, so guidelines are helpful. By the way, when I started doing this years ago, I was often answering “yes” to all three questions.  I had previously “thought” I was doing pretty well in life.  Why?  Because my ego was answering the question.  Be patient.  It might take a little while to get the “hang” of it.

As always, do not use any of these lessons to judge or berate yourself.  Not EVER!  Remember that you love yourself completely NOW, even if your thoughts are in disarray.  They are just thoughts, After all, and not who YOU are, at the core of your Divine Being.

Erwin Schrodinger, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933,  wrote:

Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind and cannot be proved to have any other existence.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Forty Three — Tapas: The Flame of Change

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butterflyblueskyTapas.  Ah!  Spanish food!  But no, this is not the kind you eat at a Spanish restaurant — all those delicious “small” plates of food. But, in another way,  this kind of tapas is food too.  It is food for your soul and your eternal being.  In tapas, one might say we are “cooked” into something new.  We are “cracked open” so a greater understanding can emerge.

Tapas is a Sanskrit word that describes yet another of the niyamas, the ethical practices as set out in classic yoga philosophy.  It is a guideline to help us live in the world while still embracing the spiritual essence of our own being.  Most of us are not monks or hermits, living apart from everyday life.  We need systems of support along the way.  Thus, we have the eight limbs of yoga.  And, thus, we have tapas.

LESSON FORTY THREE

TAPAS —  THE FLAME OF CHANGE AND ENTHUSIASM

The word, tapas, has been described in a variety of ways.  Some say it is a fire that burns within and fosters wisdom, integrity, simplicity, and focus. Others laud its ability to trigger enthusiasm and excitement pushing us ever more to release all distractions and bring us through the flames to a place of deep balance and tranquility.  Others explain tapas as that which kindles the flame of the divine within us and burns away all impurities.  All of these describe the richness that is tapas.  

It is useful to think of the practice of tapas when we are in the midst of crisis, change, and pain.  When it seems that some sort of catharsis is occurring and pressing us into a sometimes dramatic change.  When something within us is being burned away so that a new version of ourselves may appear. For myself personally, a few years ago my path took me into a place of deep loss and fear, It was a falling away from what I thought I had been.  Something new was struggling to make itself known — a new “me” in effect.  It felt like being burned up until I could see the debris was melted away, and I was glad to see it go.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Khalil Gibran

Pain and loss are not uncommon in the physical world and while we are residing there, even in it as a dream, our feathers get ruffled.  Staying steadfast in our beliefs is a powerful means of unearthing the “pearl” within the shell.  Sometimes we become so immersed in this play of grief, self-pity, anger, and other emotions, that it is hard to catch the spiritual drift.  Swami Muktananda wrote:

The secret to success in sadhana (spiritual practices) is to use everything to our advantage.

There are legions of stories about those who have turned tragedy into enlightened experiences.  Take, for example St. John of the Cross in his writings in The Dark Night of the Soul. His suffering carried him into the arms of the Divine.  Or consider the response of Ram Dass, a contemporary teacher on the spiritual path who, much to his surprise, “suffered” a stroke some years ago, leaving him quite debilitated physically.  Yet this experience of “fierce grace,” as he called it, resulted in his naming his experience as “being stroked” by God.

Don’t be mistaken, it is my wish that none of us are so “blessed” as to reach deep levels of pain, but perhaps we can begin to see that the fire that consumes the forest makes way for new shoots to spring from the soil.  It is a form of re-birth that allows the Divine within each of us to shine in the light of day.

These ideas may help you better understand tapas:

  • When you are confronted with levels of fear, pain, or loss, what might you do to “ground” yourself?  Would it help for you to take a walk, listen to some music, do yoga poses, watch your breath, meditate, read a book that makes you laugh?  What about praying, asking for guidance and strength?  Or reading some passages that help you remember who you are?
  • Using affirmations can bring a lift.  Saying “I love myself completely NOW,” can be helpful in giving something positive for the mind to give focus, and breaking a pattern of negative thinking.
  • Can you remember times when you felt lost and afraid?  Do you remember how long this lasted?  Did something else arise to replace that experience?  Can you recall in any way that those feelings and emotions were constantly changing, yet you, the real you, was still there, unchanging.  Are you able to see that you made it through and came out stronger?
  • Try thinking of ways that sustain you and keep you steady, when you are not in the eye of the storm.  If you devote more to those habits, like eating good, healthy food, caring for your body, finding coping mechanisms for stress, taking time to go inward, laughing, giving love and forgiveness to yourself and others, they will be “set” in your everyday life.  All of these build up strength for times of duress and flame the fires of joy and happiness within us.

Remember that tapas builds enthusiasm, and “fires us up” for confronting whatever may arrive in our lives.  So let the multiple meanings of tapas enrich your life in new and surprising ways.  We are all in this together, walking hand in hand, on the path that guides us to Eternal Love.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The52: Lesson Forty Two — Do You Include Yourself in Compassionate Thinking?

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butterflybluesky

If your compassion doesn’t include yourself,

it is incomplete.

                                   Jack Kornfield

What about you?  Can you be sensitive, caring, and extend kindnesses to others while ignoring yourself completely?  Are you able to look with understanding on the “failings” and sad situations of others in their struggles, yet hold back the same level of compassion for yourself?  It seems that some of us “buy into” the notion that expressing compassion for our selves is egotistical and inappropriate.  How dare we make the same allowances for ourselves as we might convey to others in pain!

Compassion must begin at home, in ourselves.  If we do not consider ourselves worthy and deserving of this self-care, then how can we legitimately pass it on to others?  Compassion must grow from a sense of self-love and from our own open hearts.

LESSON FORTY TWO

COMPASSION

Compassion!  I have written on many subjects that relate to this issue of compassion — kindness, forgiveness, gratitude, and love — but not directly focusing on compassion.  Yet compassion, for others and for ourselves, offers us spiritual insights that the other topics do not.  It engages a sense of empathy that allows us to enter into a special place with another.  We “walk in their shoes.”

Can you, on a constant level, use the practice of compassion to alter how you see yourself and others in the world?  Can you bring compassion into your awareness even at times when your anger has been activated and your impatience has risen too high?  I have often found this to be a challenge.  I can easily site chapter and verse when I lacked compassion for myself and for others.  Until I learned to practice forgiveness in all ways, (which may not happen instantaneously but is a process), I allowed myself to be tortured in this unhealthy state.

Maybe some of these suggestions will be helpful to you:

  • Engage the silent witness practice, which I have written about previously.  Stand aside from yourself and look with compassion and great kindness on yourself no matter what you have done in the present or past.  See yourself through the eyes of one who is all forgiving and loving.  It could be represented by a deity, an angel, a loving parent, a spirit guide, God, but, ultimately, it is YOU.  It is always the heart connection within yourself.
  • Look all around you – in the present and into the past.  Are there other fellow human beings you have cut out of your circle of acceptance due to disagreements, political persuasion, class lines, or anything else.  You can take a try at engaging acceptance and compassion by seeing them through impartial eyes or as they may see the world.  Aren’t you doing more damage to yourself than to them by seeing yourself as superior or self-righteous in your attitude?  Maybe those assessments are covers for your own damaged self that could use some healing.
  • Now take a moment to think about other co-habitants in the world – the animals, plants, the whole of ecology.  We humans have so often wantonly destroyed our own home, decimating animal populations and forests, for example.  Everything is part of the same energy system.  Just maybe that tree you just chopped down and that deer you just shot is related to your own soul – especially if these acts were for personal gain and not necessity.
  • Remember, as is the philosophy in The 52, that you use none of these lessons in such a way that you feel less loving to yourself.  Everything unfolds with Divine Consciousness in this play of the world.  Every practice you use is meant to increase the Love you feel for yourself.

As the Dalai Lama has observed:

It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion towards others.  

If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.

Whenever there is a choice, choose Love, for yourself and others.  It is an easy choice and always the right one.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Forty One — You Travel but in Dreams while Safe at HOMe

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There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

                     William Shakespeare

Do you remember the last time you had a vivid dream and, when you awakened from it, you said this to yourself –” Oh, thank God that was just a dream.”  You were relieved that what had seemed so completely real, so true, while you were dreaming, what troubled or frightened you was not real  at all. You were dreaming it and now, no longer sleeping, you can take solace in knowing that it was all illusion.  How many times has this happened to you?  For me, it is more times than I could ever count.

But here is another thought.  What if this happens?  You are at your moment of death, perhaps on your “death-bed,” you breathe the last breath of your life, and now, according to the measurements we use to designate when someone has officially died, you are technically “dead.”  That’s how it appears to the world, but something else happens to you.  Something you might not have expected.  maybe even something outside of whatever  belief system you may have embraced in life.  Instead of dropping into nothingness, into a dark blankness, a void, you actually “wake up.”  This time you really wake up, into a reality bigger and better than anything you could have conceived.  You wake up to Eternal Life and Love.  You have never felt more alive and joyous.  You say to yourself, “Oh my, all of that stuff before this was only a dream. ”  Maybe what you took to be your life all those years was only a dream.

You have just been introduced to maya, the Sanskrit word that denotes illusion or “that which is not.”

It is not surprising that I have waited until the last months of lessons to introduce this idea.  It is for most of us too radical, too crazy, too impossible to consider.  We are taught to believe that the only “reality” is the one we think of as the material, left brain, Newtonian universe.  We often cling to this belief, yet there is much to the contrary.  There is much that is not explainable by science and the experiences of the five senses. I believe this to the core of my being.  the world, as we experience it, is nothing more than maya, an illusion, beyond time and space.  And yet,, ironically, this allows us to love without conditions and to witness ourselves with acceptance in this play, this life on the stage of maya.

LESSON FORTY ONE

MAYA — THE ILLUSION

i am fully aware that this topic, this lesson, will feel totally implausible to many of you.  It surely did to me when i first heard of it.  Illusion?  More like  delusion, I thought.  If you already discount near death experiences, after death communications, communication with other realms, and the credible information shared by many hospice workers, then this will be a stretch.  And if you believe that all the spiritual writings of antiquity and today, as well as belief systems in many religions, are all bunk, then you have probably already stopped reading this.  I get it!  I used to share your incredulity, but I don’t anymore.

If you happen to be steeped in science, it might interest you to know that great physicists like Einstein, Niels Bohr, Steven Hawking, and David Bohm have weighed in with the findings of quantum physics.  Who would have thought that science is coming around, at last, to the ideas that were conveyed thousands of years ago in spiritual texts.  How about this?  The physical world that most people take to be real and solid is nothing more than illusion. Or this? Space and time and causality are purely mental bonds.  We created all this ourselves.

It was not, by the way,  a typo in the title of this lesson.  I meant to write hOMe.  The sound “om” from which we derive Shalom, Salaam, Amen, and home is thought to have infinite power within it.  Some say it is the sound of all creation that resonates in each of us, as a memory somewhere in our consciousness.  When my mother was near death, she, who was not overtly a particularly religious person, exclaimed out loud and to no one I could see, “home soon.”  I was stunned at her words.  she knew she was going “home.”  She looked radiant when she said it.

You dwell not here but in eternity.

You travel but in dreams, while safe at home.

A Course in Miracles

While I will write more on this subject in this future, I hope you will consider this:

  • What if you felt safe and at “home” even in the midst of world events, problems, illness? In the midst of the illusion.
  • Could you take a few moments to be quiet and consider that all is “unfolding” in your “play” in a way that you may not understand right now, but that it means something?
  • Can you entertain the notion or even consider the potential that the material world is not all there is?  That there is a place and thinking that is reachable and that transcends this often petty environment?
  • Could you stand aside, even for moments, to become a “witness” to yourself and everything around you?  Would it all still be there without any sensory acknowledgement of it?
  • Could you learn to view the “illusion” in all it grandness and beauty and awesomeness as something to be enjoyed even while knowing it is a play?
  • Maybe “consciousness” is all there is.  How about that?

I wish you bon voyage on your journey beyond the dream and into Truth.  There is nothing more exciting and it is all in your own loving heart.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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