Tag Archives: gratitude

More Memories of Memorial Day

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mother portrait

“I’ll be seeing you.” This refrain played over and over in my head that first Memorial Day after my mother’s passing. It seemed that it was inserted into my memory bank for a special reason. Oddly, it was also the first time I so clearly understood that my mother had the ability to place herself into events, books, and even manifest items and occurrences by her own power. Both Richard and I were mystified and not just a little bit confused by all of this. For some reason, I thought that, if someone wanted to communicate after they “died,” they sent a tidy little sign that they were okay and not to worry about them anymore. And that would be that! My mother clearly had something bigger in order.

“I’ll be Seeing You” is a popular World War II song. It is a poignant piece, and, because I like music of that era, it is a favorite of mine. It’s meaning reverberates for me still about seeing “you” in all the old familiar places, that this heart of mine embraces. I love the lyrics that end with “I’ll be looking at the moon but I’ll be seeing you.” Most of us think of this song as referring to a romantic relationship and of those separated by the necessities of war. I was surprised when they took on meaning about a different kind of separation, a separation “beyond” the world. As this story unfolds, you will grasp the meaning more fully. It is all about love and not just any trivial love, but one that is transcendent. It is about a love that feels like your heart is bursting open in joy.

In my last writing, I explained the astonishing coincidences within the book on tape Richard and I heard en route to Ann Arbor. I see now, in retrospect, that my mother was in high gear that weekend. In fact, she presented what I have called her “piece de resistance,” one of her highest achievements up to that time. It is about the violets, one of the themes we have come to see as her “go to” form of showing her presence.

Early in the spring, well before Memorial Day, I always take pleasure in planting grass seed in our lawn. It is quirky, but I am thrilled when the grass comes up and the lawn looks more beautiful. Over the years, I have hired others to do this, but I never like the results. I guess it has something to do with my lovingly putting down the seed by hand and throwing top soil all around and then waiting…

The spring after Mother’s departure, I again set out to seed the lawn, but this time there was a big surprise for me. Large portions of the lawn were radiant with purple violets. I know my lawn. Those were never there before. In wonderment, I immediately knew they must be a gift from my mother. She would know how I would remember all the years we trekked into the woods near our home, dug up violets, and transplanted them onto our property. Even as a little girl, it was an adventure we enjoyed and relished. We would ooh and aah over the different colors and varieties that we discovered, even yellow violets. I cherish this memory.

And now, as if by magic, they were blooming all over the lawn.

A few days later, Richard and I went to New York to visit out of town friends. In a hotel room where we have stayed frequently, we discovered that there was something new there too. In the entryway to the room was a lovely botanical print of a violet, hung so we couldn’t miss it. Whenever we entered the room, there it was. That picture was never there before.

Coincidence?

Then comes Memorial Weekend and we are traveling to plant the flowers at the cemetery in Michigan. Along the way, Richard and I decided to stop in Ohio to visit his ailing brother and our sister in law. We had formulated a plan that Richard would take his brother out for lunch, while I would entertain his wife at another restaurant. They were encountering some hard times with a serious illness, and we wanted to lend support.

My sister in law, Joyce, had carefully chosen a charming little quaint cafe.
We entered and were taken to our table. My eyes grew wide when I saw what was in the centerpiece of the table — it was an antique cotton handkerchief, exactly like one my mother used when I was a child. It was emblazoned with violets all over it. I was stunned. I noticed that none of the other skirted tables had handkerchiefs under the glass on them. When the waiter came to our table, I asked him about the handkerchief. He gazed at the centerpiece and seemed as amazed as I was. He said he had never seen something like this before. (Am I in the twilight zone?) Then, by some quirk of fate, he started telling me that this grandmother had just died and he had seen her image that morning. (I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone now for sure.)
Joyce and I have often marveled at the almost surreal time we had in that restaurant that day.

Richard and I continued our journey. As we rode along, I took note of the umbrella shaped May apples flowers blooming along the side of the road. I had not seen these since I left my childhood home and, you could guess it, my mother and I also transplanted those wild flowers onto our property. There also seemed to be many billboards and churches and signs about God and Jesus. One that could not be missed was a gigantic sculpture of Jesus coming out of the lake in front of the “Solid Rock” church. I felt as if all of this was more than riding along a highway through a part of the Bible Belt. I already knew that everything happens with purpose and that I learned through yoga, not through Christianity.

But there were more plans afoot. As I look back now, with far more understanding than I had then, I can imagine my mother rubbing her hands together as she gleefully plotted her next surprise. She was holding onto these and was poised to present them to include my brother and sister in law, Bill and Judy, with whom we would visit and do the ceremonial planting of the flowers for both my mother and my father.

We never knew what wonders we would behold from minute to minute. This was becoming a great adventure into the land of miracles. Anything could happen now!

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The 52: What is to Come Next? I Would Like Your Help!

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butterflyblueskyLast week, Lesson 52 was completed.  Just as the 52 lessons began with Love, so they ended.  Love is the ultimate spiritual practice.  It holds everything within it.  My heart has felt opened and filled with Love in writing each post.

As I contemplate the future for this blog, I respectfully request your feedback.  Many have written asking that this course be offered in book form.  Others want it to be repeated, as a blog.  Some of you would like a means of communicating with others who are reading The 52.  Please let me know what you think.  I would also like to know more about you. In addition to my many readers across the U.S., The 52 has  developed a large following in several other countries including Ireland, China, The Netherlands, and  Russia.  All of you, and your thoughts, matter a great deal to me.  So I would value knowing which lessons resonated the most with you and if you found them easy to follow. You can respond to this blog or on Facebook or to my email addresses at deanne@deannemincer.com or dminc100@aol.com. Let me know what YOU would like.

A year ago, I rather spontaneously (and perhaps, audaciously) decided to put into print the many teachings I have shared with my students and learned, both  by study and reading and through mystical experiences, from many sources on my own spiritual journey.  These have brought together the classic teachings of yoga and the mystical branches of many religions.  The lessons have been informed by the teachings of Jesus, the Buddha, Rumi and other Sufi masters, native and aboriginal traditions, Judaic mystical writings, ancient Hindu texts and other forms of inspired spiritual lessons.  While certain themes have repeated themselves, I have sought to give bullet point suggestions for you to put into practice those ideas and to offer a multitude of guidelines.  Believing that all paths lead ultimately to the great Source, to the Light of Eternal Love, to Truth, to freedom, to God, each reader could choose what most resonated with them.

Years ago, I subscribed to a course provided by the Siddha lineage of yoga.  It was, at the time, called The Siddha Yoga Correspondence Course and was authored by Ram at the request of his guru, Muktananda.  In the very first lesson, I recall reading that it would contain everything we needed to know, all subsequent lessons would be different approaches to the same theme.  The lessons were surprisingly simple (as I have tried to make The 52 simple).  The Course requested only that the reader repeat reading the same two lessons throughout the month, reading the words and imbibing the energy therein, even if the words made no particular sense.  Just being present to the Divine Energy therein would be enough.  And it was!

Later I began the daily readings of A Course in Miracles. I have since read every word of the text and information for teachers and have repeated the workbook section more than once.  Repeated reading has brought more and more spiritual benefit and insight.

I hope that The 52 bears repeating and that your depth of understanding will increase with time. (Although I do not pretend to the high powers within A Course in Miracles.)  So, for now, I intend to re-edit and add some fresh material to the lessons begun last year.  Starting next week, the newer version of The 52 will begin.

And now — another request.  The opportunity to change people’s lives, to let them experience a lighter, happier life, and to recognize that they ARE Divine Love will increase exponentially when this message is shared.  If The 52 has been of benefit to you, I ask that you share it with others. Please forward the emails, share it on Facebook, let your friends bask in the Light of Eternal Love.  My one purpose in writing these words has been to be of service and to help others. Won’t you join me on this journey? I will be most grateful to you.

I thank you for your kindnesses and for your support and encouragement as I offered these sincere words from my heart.  My heart bonds with yours as we see that all of us are, indeed, one. You are the Light of Eternal Love.

Maybe you should know yourself for just one moment.

Maybe you should glimpse your most beautiful face.

Maybe you should sleep less deeply in your house of clay.

Maybe you should move into the house of joy, and shine in every crevice.

Maybe you are the bearer of hidden treasure.

Maybe you always have been.

RUMI

I think you already ARE!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

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

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butterflyblueskyAPARIGRAHA

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.

LESSON THIRTY FIVE

NON-POSSESSIVENESS

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

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

The 52: More on Lesson Nine — You Are As Happy As You Want To Be

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butterflybluesky

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Abraham Lincoln

That Abraham Lincoln!  With everything else he did, I never knew he made comments on happiness — and profound ones indeed.  So you see, happiness doesn’t just happen.  It has something to do with how you think  and how your mind is responding to your life and world.  You can make up your mind to be happy.  How liberating is that?

One of the yoga classes I teach focuses on being light and happy.  At the beginning of class, everyone takes one of those sticky smiley faces. You know the ones that are usually yellow and they used to be plastered in all kinds of places.  “Have a nice day,”  might go along with them.  They were ubiquitous at one time. I stick my smiley face on the front of my shirt so everyone can see it.  I encourage students to stick them on their bathroom mirror, on the dashboard of their car, on their computer, wherever they will see it.  It’s a reminder to lighten up and be happy.  We need all the help we can get!

Sure, some may think that this idea of happy faces is a little trivial, silly, syrupy, and sentiments like that.  I don’t care because I would rather be reminded to be happy than be politically correct or cynical about it.  I tried that way (the cynical way) for a long time.  All I derived from that was pain and separation. It does not work, especially if you want any happiness in your life.

Many of us say to ourselves, “Well, I will be happy when I find a partner or make enough money or have a new car or buy that special pair of shoes or get my child into the best school.”  Think about it.  You will always have another “as soon as” and then happiness just passes you by.  Happiness is not something that comes from the outside.  It is an inside deal.  Remember Lincoln said, it is in your mind.

I like this quote from one of the great texts on yoga, the Yoga Vasistha:

One who is happy with whatever clothing he is given,

whatever food he is fed, and whatever resting place he is given,

shines like an emperor.

  • Think about times when you were especially grateful or happy.  What triggered that response? Maybe it was something simple like making it on time to your child’s school play or getting the last seat on an airplane or seeing a squirrel scamper across your yard.
  • Go way back in time, to your childhood.  Something very simple might have been the impetus.  I remember being in elementary school and, on the first really warm spring day, how much happiness I felt at going outside to swing on swings and run across the grass.
  • Look around you.  Really look.  I know you will find something around you that can elicit gratitude  and happiness.  Just sitting here in my office, I am happy that the sun is streaming through the window, that my computer is working, that I have my cup of green tea right next to me.  Remember, I said simple.

You can “make up your mind” to be happy, to find something that evokes happiness.  You are not tossed about by the circumstances of the world.  In fact, you are the world you construct.

With happiness, I wish you a wonderful day!

With love and namaste, Deanne

Check out www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Eight — Still Judging Others?

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Dr. Wayne Dyer is one of the most prolific writers and teachers on the subjects of psychology, Divine Love, and the spiritual path.  I have enormous respect for the way he blends spiritual truth, venerable writers, gurus, and poet’s quotations, and his own unique humor and personal experiences into such a powerful message that seems to be applicable for all of us.  He said:

You do not define anyone with your judgment.

You only define yourself as someone who needs to judge

I heard Dr. Dyer speak at a Hay House event in New York City.  He held the audience spellbound for nearly three hours as he shared profound spiritual truths in the most simple language.  He described how, as he became aware that he had just judged someone, he decided to correct the situation then and there.  Many of us find judging so normal in our lives that we don’t even notice. We just engage the behavior, gossip, devalue others, pat ourselves on the back for our superiority. Or we notice and “fix” it.  Or maybe we see the judging starting, but we are tuned in enough to delete the behavior right away.  Then there is the step where the judging does not even start.  Where do you fit in this picture?

Let’s make it a lesson:

  • Do you find yourself routinely judging others, complaining, arguing without any conscious awareness of this behavior?  (Well, if it is unconscious, you might not be able to answer this part at all.) Let’s say you are in a check out line.  The person in front of you is slow at everything.  They can’t find their credit card.  You are in a hurry and are seething inside.  You might be calling them names to yourself or sighing and giving dirty looks. You think this is “normal” and you are justified.  What’s wrong with this incompetent fool, you might think.
  • Next step:  Do you see it happening and, rather than letting it go, you put a “check” next to the behavior.  Now you know you are doing it.  You notice how angry you are getting and act just as in the previous description.  But now you have noticed and something does not seem right to you.  You are not behaving “normally.’
  • Let’s say you notice it and it has affected another person.  Can you correct it right now?  You’ve noticed that the person is front of you in line is aware of your behavior.  She has heard you sighing and seen your angry face.  You stop and look at her.  You stop the behavior.  You say something like — I ‘m sorry, I am having a bad day or I don’t know why I am in such a rush or you give her some indication that you have calmed down and you mean it!  Maybe you even try to help her.
  • Now you see the judgement starting and you are aware enough to nip it in the bud. You just plain stop it! You know that this is a situation that would aggravate you.  Your blood starts to warm up but before it can start to boil you relax your body and your breathing and you back off.
  • Let’s say something happens, that would normally trigger your judging, like the scenario we are exploring.  You can let it go.  You can smile within and remember the old judging you and smile again at yourself.  Now the check out line becomes a pleasant and learning experience because YOU have made it so.  Congratulations!

Can you see yourself feeling softer, calmer, more loving.  Do you start to notice that you have a lot to do with how you see and experience your world?  Don’t you feel better?

I used the example of the check out line because it used to be a trigger for me!  My impatience and tight scheduling (along with a big dose of ego) would bring about those reactions.  How about you?  What is a trigger point for you? What might you find to use as a learning experience?  I’d like to know.  But I’m not judging!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more information, go to www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Two — How Calm and Relaxed Are You Right Now?

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butterflyblueskyThe body is the temple of the spirit.

Amrit Dasai

It’s time to scan your body.  That’s right.  It’s the body that seems to contain your Eternal  and Divine Spirit.  Just how light, happy, and full of love can you be if your body is tight with anxiety, like a twisted knot?  It is important to take every part of our being into account on this joyous ride of Love.  We don’t leave behind any aspect of ourselves, including our physical presence.

LESSON TWO

LOVING AND NURTURING YOUR BODY

This is the focus of Lesson Two — getting to know when and how your body reacts to stress.  Tense muscles.  Tight jaw line.  Scrunched shoulders.  The back held in a noose.  Do you recognize these stress symptoms? Some bodies choose to display stress in one or two or all of these ways at once. Then most of us walk around all day long, unconscious and never noticing.  But, once you know, you can start eliminating the body’s reaction to stress and negativity.  You can have a new dialogue with your body, while being compassionate and kind all the while.

You can talk soothingly to your body, reassuring it and sending it  love.  “Go ahead, shoulders, take a little break.  Soften up,” you might say.  Or “There you go, you tense back, how about a little rest right now.  Stretch out.  Doesn’t that feel good?”  It’s YOUR body, after all.  You can have a friendly chat with it.  You might not want to do it out loud if you are in a public place, but then people will maybe just think you are talking on your cell phone. Or that you are little odd.  No matter!

I used to work in a place that was vibrating with tension.  Executive decisions were made, then rescinded all the time.  It was the land of the ten minute decision — in ten minutes there would be another, conflicting decision.  The stress was palpable and everyone worked in close contact, seated in the same area.  The only retreat was a bathroom stall.  I would go in there and stand for a minute or two and imagine a flow of soothing warm water pouring over my body, washing away tension.  I imagined the stress dripping off of my fingers and pooling at my feet, then flowing away. It worked.  That was then.  Now I don’t need to go anywhere; I can do the scan and the imagery where ever I might be.  You can too, once you are used to the idea.

Remember your body reacts to what you think and say to it.  It knows when you are sending it nurturing and love.  You can love ALL parts of your being at once. Try some of these ideas:

  • Honestly scan your body and be aware of tightness and stress.  give conscious permission to let it.
  • Repeat this scan often throughout the day and even at night in bed, if you are awake enough to notice.
  • You will see that your body reacts to these changes.  Each time it will be easier to calm the body.
  • Think of any parts of your body that have been problematic or are sensitive to negative thoughts.  Actively send kindness and love to these places in particular.
  • Imagine Love and Light massaging and filling those parts of your body. Perhaps inhaling Love and Light and then exhaling away judgement, pain, and anything negative lodged in those spots.
  • Take a class in deep rest and meditation.  I teach Yoga Nidra (sleeping meditation) and it works so well at de-flating stress.
  • See your body, from which you will surely part one day, as another expression of Divine Consciousness, of God.  Treat it with tenderness and respect.
  • Say these words over and over until they ring in your mind — I LOVE MY BODY AND MYSELF COMPLETELY NOW.

I am honored to join you in learning to love yourself more.  It is the true purpose in living, though that thought may, for now, seem unlikely.  but, over time, and with following The 52, you will see the incredible power in understanding this thinking. I am here to help if you need me.  Just ask.

With love and namaste, Deanne

More at www.deannemincer.com and share this blog with your friends who want to be lighter and happier and more full of Love.

(c) A Lighter, Happier YOU in 52 (weeks) by Deanne Mincer, 2013

Thanks Giving: Joyous Food for the Spirit

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       In a recent conversation with a friend, I reflected on my love of cooking.  I said that, if I had a free moment to relax, it would likely be with poring over a recipe or preparing a special meal.  In my mind, I would conjure the process of working in my kitchen preparing something that will nurture and nourish myself and those around me.  I can feel my heart open and a joyousness emerges as I think of the fireplace crackling with warmth, classical music or chants , wafting through the room, a fragrant candle with the hint of apples and pumpkin, and me, chopping and mixing up a blend of home cooked kindness.  This is, in fact, how it is in my Thanksgiving kitchen.

      As I set about to take various ingredients and turn them into food to offer family and guests, I never feel alone.  Instead, my kitchen is surrounded by memories and traditions.  It brims with remembrances of past holidays, generations of those family and friends past and present, of aromas and tables set with foods popular during the time they were offered.  Food provides a sense of community (of communing together) and connecting in ways that only food can evoke.

      I savor a  memory of my mother baking hundreds of Christmas cookies that she gave out to eager recipients each year — everyone from family and neighbors to the post man and the man who took care of her car.  My mother learned cooking, sewing, and other domestic skills from her own mother.  She, in turn, taught them to her eager daughter.  I knew that I was learning a skill but I was also learning a more important lesson. It was a lesson about how to share love with others.  Then, as my mother reached into her late nineties and lived with my husband and me, we prepared many of those same Christmas cookies.  She had grown too weak and fragile to stand at the counter, mixing heavy dough in big bowls. Under her watchful eye and taking her advice, we took the cookies  from the oven and offered them to her for the true taste test. Every morsel was an act of love.

      Though I did not know it then, the energy and attitude of the cook goes into the food itself.  Mixing dough, mashing potatoes, making the sauces — whatever the dish — it becomes infused with the predominant attitudes of the one cooking.  So cooking with attention to attitude is important.  Maybe even offering a prayer or affirmation as cooking commences is a kind gesture in much the same way as offering thanks for the food set on the table.

      Food and eating as a group has traditions that stretch back into the roots of our humanity and are shared in all cultures.  The “communion,” in religious ritual, brings like-minded people together in praise and commonality — perhaps even in rapture.  It is no mistake that food plays such a central role in all the important ceremonies of life.  Think of holidays (holy days) of all persuasions, weddings, anniversaries, funerals. 

      So it is with much love that I approach the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner.  I will offer a prayer of thanks giving for an abundant sense of love, for all in our nation, and in the world, for concern for those without family and home, for those present and past.  And, especially, to my mother, in thankfulness for the lessons she taught me all those years ago and into this very day.

      Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.  You don’t even have to live in a country where Thanksgiving is celebrated each year, you can make EVERY day one of thanks giving.

With love and namaste from Deanne

For more thoughts, go to www.deannemincer.com and to http://deannemincer@wordpress.com