Tag Archives: loving oneself

The 52: Lesson Forty — Can You Rest in Contentment?

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butterflybluesky

Once you have tasted contentment and start to live in its beauty, you actually want this river to overflow its banks.

And that gives you the courage to move forward and make the most of this gift of life.

Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Someone, in one of my classes, visually blanched when I mentioned the idea of contentment.  “But if we are content,” she exclaimed, “then we won’t strive to improve.  We won’t make an effort.  We won’t grow and learn.  We will just be content.”  Exactly, we will just be content.  But this doesn’t mean we become a bump on a log, that we are inert and lacking in vitality.  It means something far more important.  It means this:  If you start from a place of contentment with what is in the moment, you move forward without a sense of lack.  You are conscious of your value and worth while you move in whatever direction you might go.

How content are you, right now?  Can you rest in the place where you are in this moment?  Or do you feel lacking, desiring, and inadequate without this and that?  As part of this 52 week study, we are moving through the Yoga Sutras.  They contain enormous wisdom and are guides to aid us in everyday life.  One of the Niyamas is called santosha or contentment in English.  These are guide posts for living our lives in ways that direct us toward lightness and happiness and greater self-knowledge and, ultimately, to the great Light and Love that lives in each of us, to the Divine Self.

LESSON FORTY

CONTENTMENT — SANTOSHA

There was a time in my life when the idea of contentment would have been anathema to me.  I had so many lists of goals and plans and desires — from books I wanted to read, to destinations around the world where I wanted to travel, to languages I hoped I might learn to speak, and, well, blah, blah, blah, and on and on ad infinitum.  My tape deck in my car was full of ways to change my life, wasting no time while I drove from one location to another  — listening to lessons on how to improve myself, repeating French phrases or German or Chinese, learning something or other.  I set up the perfect arrangement to never, ever feel content and  finished in this lifetime and, probably, for many to come.  And worst of all, I felt pride in my list making and goal setting, like people who were content were lazy and lacked vision.  In the meantime, I was dancing as fast as I could, and never happy or fulfilled.  There was always more to add to the list.  Now I know better.

The Yoga Vasishtha is an ancient document which contains many of my favorite writings.  It says:

What is contentment?  To renounce all cravings for what is not obtained unsought

and to be satisfied with what comes unsought.

Without being elated or depressed even by them — this is contentment.

Think about it.  Are you always looking outside yourself for something to bring you peace and contentment?  To something you want?  To another person to accept and provide a sense of worth?  Seeking and avoiding — that is no way to feel fulfilled and content.  Ask me!  I have been an expert at this.  And I know what it brought me.  Nothing but pain, sadness, arrogance, and helplessness.

Here are some ideas that might be helpful:

  • Stop.  Right now.  In this moment.  Stop reading.  Are you content just sitting and reading?  Is this possible?  Maybe, in this moment, even if only for a fraction of “time,” you are content.  Don’t ask for more right now. How does this feel to you?
  • Do you really think that once you have that new BMW or that trip to Honolulu or that book published or that retirement fund built up, that this will ensure contentment?  Are you looking outside yourself?
  • Can you begin to imagine that there is already a treasure of wisdom that out ranks everything “out there” residing right there, in you?  Just knowing that you are worthy and loved without all the accoutrements, the add ons from the world is quite a gift.
  • Could you let go of desire and know that everything will unfold perfectly anyway, without your own effort?

Leading from a place of contentment opens up a whole new world.  But first you have to try it and then stay with it.

Through contentment, there is a world within my heart.

Rumi

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Thirty Seven — Forgiveness is Divine

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butterflyblueskyDo you hold grudges?  Do you let resentment and hatred surge through your being?  Do you think that forgiveness implies weakness and steals from you the “right” to be indignant, furious, and angry?  Are you “proud” of your capacity to punish someone by banishing them from your midst or by spreading terrible words about them?  Did it ever occur to you that the one most hurt by all of this is YOU?  That you are “drinking the poison and expecting someone else to die?” Is it possible that lack of forgiveness is really a sign of fear?

It was Alexander Pope who wrote :

To err is human, to forgive divine.

Aren’t we all human?  Don’t we all make mistakes?  Haven’t we all stumbled and failed at some time in our lives?  Isn’t there some dark shadow of guilt or shame lurking in the recesses of our lives?  Is it too radical to consider these possibilities:  From the depth of love that resounds in our hearts, we can — and must — forgive others.  And coupled with that, we can  — and must –forgive ourselves.  What will be the outcome?  Freedom!  True freedom.

Can we be forgiving about our own times of lack of forgiveness?  Are we big enough, strong enough, powerful and loving enough to choose forgiveness? That is the focus of this lesson.

LESSON THIRTY SEVEN

FORGIVING SETS US FREE

 A Course in Miracles is the awe-inspiring book that has the capacity to transform anyone who follows the course.  (Studying it has been one of the most pivotal experiences and best decisions of my life.)  Forgiveness is a key theme.

Fear binds the world.  Forgiveness sets it free.

Lesson 332  A Course in Miracles

Imagine what your life and world would be like if you shed the burdens you have carried by refusing to forgive.  We, as humans, have carried so many foolish notions on this subject.  Not long ago, someone was telling me about a woman who was generally kind and loving, but “if you crossed her once, she never forgave you.”  This was told to me with a hint of admiration for the woman who never forgave, as if she had some stupendous power, like a Mafia Don,  as if it was a sign of merit and strong character.  One mistake with her and — BOOM — banished forever.  I wonder if she would have ever considered these words from George Herbert:

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.

Forgiveness must go in all directions, passing through all relationships, into what we perceive as the past and the future, from one generation to another and globally as well.  I think of the damage done to families that have held onto angers, like the Hatfields and the McCoys.  This brings to mind political stances (like Democrats never forgiving the Republican politicians for something or other (you can reverse the party title for the same effect) or citizens of one country bearing the blame for “sins” committed long before they were born, such as longstanding anger with anyone from the Mideast or Europe or the United States  or fill in the blank.

If we are to wipe the slate clean, it has to start somewhere.  How about starting it yourself, with you?

Now take a calming few breaths, quiet your mind and try some or all of these ideas:

  • Are you aware of a long-standing anger you have harbored for someone? Or maybe it is a surge of anger that started just yesterday?  Can you actually see that person through a lens of forgiveness, trying to fathom who they are and what it may feel like in their shoes for a minute or so.
  • Can you entertain the possibility that you are harming, not them, but yourself by holding onto these emotions? That actual physical symptoms, like high blood pressure or depression may be a result of lack of forgiveness.
  • If it helps, you can always write a letter, which you will not send, to the person who has “wronged” you.  Get it off your chest (notice what this phrase means with regard to your heart,) whatever has to be said.  Then let it go!
  • Can you dig into your past and find the place where you began to believe your were unworthy, unloveable and unforgivable?  Can you look at it now, see that the past is over, and let light merge into that spot?  You might visualize the “you” from the past and send love, saying “I love myself completely NOW,” to that person that your were then.
  • Try seeing your long perceived “enemy” in the same light.  Aren’t we all just doing the best we can to get through life?  Aren’t we all capable of mistakes?  What if you chose to spread Love instead?  Do you think this is all silly and a waste of time?  Have you ever tried it? How about setting the ego aside for a little while and making a new choice?  You can do it, you know.
  • Be patient and kind with yourself.  This way of forgiveness may not become a habit overnight.  It may take a little practice.  Give it some time and see how you feel.  Remember to keep loving yourself all the time.

Here is a quote attributed to Mark Twain, the legendary American author and humorist.  I think it expresses a profundity beyond measure.

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Thirty Six — Be Still and Remember Who You Are!

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butterflyblueskyAre you afraid to be quiet?  Is it too daunting to think of being alone with yourself?  What will happen if you turn off the sounds around you — the iPod, the radio, the TV, the chatting on the phone, the texting — all that surrounds you?  Or maybe, wise you, you don’t live in this kind of noise any more.

Are we so addicted to all this noisy input that we cannot fathom what it is like to see how it feels to be quiet.? Maybe we have become what James Thurber, the great humorist, suggested:

Nowadays most men live lives of noisy desperation.

LESSON THIRTY SIX

BE STILL

Several years ago, when we were living in a quiet, leafy suburb of Chicago, we invited a successful playwright to stay with us as one of his plays was being produced in Chicago.  He lived in the heart of New York City in an apartment surrounded by bustling activity and noise.  After a few hours, sitting on the veranda at our home, with birds chirping, leaves gently rustling in the breeze, and squirrels making their way from one branch to another, he could not stand it any longer.  He blurted out:  “How can you stand it here? It is too quiet!”  My husband and I were so stunned at this statement  that we laughed in response.

The Arctic expresses the sum of all wisdom: silence.

Walter Bauer

Well, most of us will not be going to the Arctic anytime soon.  So what about you?  Can you stand a little silence?  I don’t mean meditating, though that would be even better.  I only suggest being still and turning off the outside chatter.  You might even choose to go somewhere that is relatively quiet — somewhere like a path in the woods or a park or to a museum or library.  In these places you will still have nature and artworks and books to keep you company, but, at least, the noise will be less.  You might, at some point, realize that you (yes, YOU) are pretty good company to keep.  And then your chattering mind might find it pleasant to drop back and relax.

Here are some ideas:

  • Actively notice when you are bombarded with auditory influences and sound, then take note of times when you let these go.  How does it feel?
  • Make a conscious effort to take a little time each day to shut out exterior sound.  Don’t try to find another distraction, like reading or texting.
  • Make those time longer.  Perhaps set a time aside to be still and, each day, make it a priority.
  • You might make it even more positive by adding a statement:  At the beginning of your quiet time say  — I love myself completely now. — or — I enjoy this time to myself. — or any phrase that makes you feel good.
  • You may notice, as time goes on, that YOU can be silent, calm and peaceful, even when surrounded by blaring sounds  and cacophony.

This idea of stillness did not always come easy to me, so I can sympathize if this seems hard.  Recently I went to a spiritual retreat center, a kind of summer camp for seekers.  At dinner, i looked for a table marked with a sign that read “silence.” Most ashrams and places of this sort have them so I was disappointed that there was no table to just sit and feel the pleasure of nourishing good food.  On the reverse,  long ago, I was at a social gathering with a group of loquacious, high energy TV producers and others.  Someone had heard of experiments on being silent.  We agreed to try it and see how long we could be together without talking.  It lasted for a while, with none of us used to such a thing.  And guess who was the first to break the silence, to feel compelled to make some joke?  That’s right.  I could not just relax with the quiet. I was the first one to break the silence. But that was long before I had any idea I would begin meditating and go in the direction I took. I was “chatty Cathy” in those days.

Now there is little I relish more than stillness, my mantra and meditation.  Just being, that’s all.

Mother Teresa made this statement:

We need to find God and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.  God is the friend of silence.  

See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence. 

See the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move in silence…

We need silence in order to touch souls.

Who knows?  In silence you may touch your own soul — and God.

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: 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: Love the YOU Who is Present Right Now!

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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

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