Tag Archives: Chinese

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

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butterflybluesky

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.

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

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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.”

LESSON THIRTY THREE

BRAHMACHARYA — PURE IN ENERGY

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

For more:  http://www.deannemincer.com

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

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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?

LESSON THIRTY TWO

BREATH AND THE BODY

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

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

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: 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: 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