Tag Archives: Newtown

The 52: Lesson Nineteen — Ahimsa: What If We Were ALL Non-Violent?

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butterflyblueskyAhimsa. What is that, you might ask.  If you are a yogi, you would know.  But everyone benefits by understanding the depth of the word. ahimsa. It means non-violence.

If there is something we could all use more of in this world today, it is non-violence.  That and true unconditional love.

The path of yoga is abundant with all kinds of valuable lessons on leading a loving and responsible life. We learn ways to work with the body, the breath, the senses, the mind, and how to be in the world.  Ahimsa is one of those ways to be.  It is a Sanskrit word that means non-violence.  Most spiritual or religious writings have some kind of writing on this subject, whether they emanate from something like the Ten Commandments of Judao/Christian thought or Buddhist texts and others.  We are asked to practice nonviolence.

In the Yoga Sutras, the quintessential book describing classic yoga, ahimsa is the first of the “rules” for living found in the Yamas. It is about learning to be non-violent in all ways.  We are to remember that nonviolence is to be engaged on every level — in thought, word and deed, in all of our actions with others, with anything and everything in the world, and with ourselves as well.  This broad definition reaches a profound level. To even scratch the surface of ahimsa can lead to significant change and may take years (or some might say, life-times) to fully reach its goal.  It is a worthwhile effort.

Think about this. Not only should we not act in violence, or speak in violence,  we should  not even think in any way that could be deemed violent, abusive, hurtful, cruel, unkind, or damaging.  Try this idea on for size.  Think what would happen if we all engaged this behavior.  Bullying would end.  Boston and Newtown and 9/11 would never have happened, and this is only scratching the surface.  What about Syria, the holocaust, the demeaning of women in many cultures?  Child abuse, elder abuse, animal abuse would stop.  And we would even end our own habit of self denigration.

Think about it!

Thomas Alva Edison wrote this:

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution.

Until we stop harming all other beings, we are still savages.

LESSON NINETEEN

NON-VIOLENCE

If we are to be lighter, happier and more loving, as is the intention in these 52 lessons, then it makes sense that we take inventory about how we are treating ourselves, each other, and the world around us.  If we are harboring thoughts of violence, even if only in our minds, then we cannot be functioning very well.  Sure, we can put on a face that pretends kindness while at the same time, festering within, are feelings and expressions contrary to that friendly face.  Or we might behave in ways that hide the self-violence of judging, demeaning and harming (maybe even hating) ourselves.  Violence is violence in whatever form it takes.

Many years ago, in my effort to do no harm and remembering the words of the great theologian and medical missionary, Albert Schweitzer, I was determined to do my best to avoid harming. I noticed there were some moths in my kitchen pantry.  Being clueless at the time, I thought they were clothes moths and wondered why they weren’t eating my wool sweaters upstairs in the closet.  I let them be.  It wasn’t long before I discovered the “other” kind of moth, the ones that like to invade the staples in the pantry.  They were everywhere.  In my flour, my grains, my cookies, my cereal.  My determination for “no harm” gave way quickly.  They were eating MY food.  They had to go, though I felt a measure of sadness in removing them.

So we all have definitions about what is construed as “violence,:  Let us explore this further:

  • Trying your best to remain objective and non-judging (in other words, act as an impartial witness if you can), think of feelings you may have that are violent and angry regarding your self and those around you.  Notice that these feelings are more than likely harming you just in the process of harboring them.
  • Take one or two of these thoughts and see if you can diffuse them and let them go.  Remember that everyone has challenges and that most people do the best they can to get by in the world. Who are we to judge them?
  • Try to “bookmark” any recurrent thoughts of violence or hatred that flow through your consciousness and then, with each of them, follow our earlier lesson in thought monitoring.  Note the thought.  Decide if it is constructive or damaging to you.  Make the conscious effort to delete or banish it, then replace it with something loving.
  • DO NOT use this lesson as a form of further self denigration!  This is about learning how you respond in life and trying to make positive changes so that you are more open to loving yourself all the time.

Most of us change in increments, in baby steps. Removing one violent thought, behavior, or act has an impact larger than you might realize.  Try it and let me know how it works for you.  I predict the very act of trying will lead to a lighter and happier YOU.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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Healing Words in Times of Grief: Newtown

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In confronting the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I reached back into other times when I have faced grief and loss. Now our entire nation has felt the reverberations emanating from that seemingly perfect New England town. So I have tried to choose words of comfort.  Some will resonate than others, but it is my hope that something here will sootheand lessen the heavy weight of loss.

We will all lose loved ones.  No one escapes this truth.  Loss and grief have a commonality; we miss those who are no longer with us.  We feel this whether they are are taken too young , in senseless violence and before they have blossomed or if they have experienced a long life, as in the case of my mother who departed at age 98.  We still miss them and wish for yet another day or, in the case of all those so young and innocent, a lifetime of becoming who they would have been. 

This poem, among many other writings, touched my heart and I offer it to you.  It was printed on a funeral card for my mother. The author is Mary Elizabeth Frye:

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there.  I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glint in snow.

I am the sunlight on the ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there.  I did not die.

I had never heard these words before, but they served as a source of great comfort to me.  They spoke of the Truth I already embraced; that none of us die and that life is eternal. I believe this at the core of my being, yet I still felt tremendous loss.  As my mother moved ever closing to departing the world, she made it abundantly clear that she knew where she was going. After she stopped breathing and miracles unfolded,  it was not long before shesent scores of signs and messages indicating her presence and her love for us.  While I did not expect this, they were there. We who witnessed them were enthralled. 

To all who have lost loved ones, watch, stay tuned, and be aware. Instead of doubting something you see or hear or experience, try to be open to messages you may receive from deceased loved ones.  They may or may not come; this is not a measure of how much love there is between you.  For me and my family, we were always amazed and never expected any of the many communications that took place.  They bolstered and cheered us.  The book, Hello From Heaven, by Bill and Judy Guggenheim, is full of accounts of many after death communications.  I recommend it as a source of information and for the wonders within.  But whatever brings comfort, let it be there in abundance.  There is love flowing to you always, both from heaven and earth.

Peace be with you.

For more writings: www.deannemincer.com and https://deannemincer.wordpress.com

In a Small Bucolic Town in Connecticut — The Unthinkable

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It was in “our own backyard,” not far from our home. In a neighboring community, thought to be safe and civilized, where you might leave your front door unlocked and your children could play in a safe haven, into this setting, a dark and sad presence came forth.  The merry spirit of the holidays, the homes ablaze with bright lights and wreaths welcoming friends to visit, with children anticipating the visit of Santa Claus, and the happiness of parents watching their young ones in the school holiday program, a perfect Norman Rockwell painting  — all of this was shattered by an unfathomable act of violence. The aftermath revealed that many of our fellow human beings were shot dead, twenty of them young and innocent children.  Some of them were as young as six years old.  It happened in the presumed safety of their own school room.  The shock and grief are palpable in our community and in our nation.

Words are useless, yet it is mainly through words that we communicate.  We humans try to make sense and find answers.  There will be much valid conversation about gun laws and about security in schools and about the challenges of better understanding the mentally ill.  In natural disasters, we show our concern and caring by taking action.  In the recent hurricane that struck our area, we could band together, give aid, money, food, clothing, something, to replace lost homes and possessions.  Now what do we give to soothe those whose children and parents, brothers and sisters, grandchildren will never come home again?

What can we do in the face of circumstances that defy logic?  How can we help those dealing with loss so extreme that the nation collectively has cried out in pain?  What can we do? I found comfort in wise and poignant words of author Anne Lamott, from her new book, Help Thanks Wow:

In prayer, I see the suffering bathed in light. In God, there is no darkness. I see God’s light permeate them, soak into them, guide their feet.  I want to tell God what to do: “Look, Pal, this is a catastrophe.  You have got to shape up.” But it wouldn’t work.  So I pray for people who are hurting, that they be lifted with air and light.  Air and light, they somehow get into those dark, musty places, like spiritual antibiotics.

We can only open our hearts and offer love and prayers, compassion and a sense of peace.  We can spread kindness wherever we go and be gentle with those in our lives.  We can hold all who grieve in our thoughts, imagining them encircled with a Grace that transcends the smallness of the world.  We cannot change the vagaries of the world, much as we would like to.  There will always be chaos.  But we can and must allow ourselves to move inward, to make our own peace, and to let this Light shine around us. To lighten the burdens of all whom we touch and, in so doing, to lighten our own.  To BE the light.

We cannot make sense of these tragedies.  Death is never far away and is a fact of life.  Yet we are learning with more and more depth that death is a transition, a crossing over, and that life is eternal.  The world is transitory; life is not. All who die, continue to be.  That is the Resurrection and is embraced by the most ancient of spiritual writings. I believe this Truth with every fibre of my own being.

Death is not extinguishing the light,

it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.

Rabindranath Tagore

For more thoughts: www.deannemincer.com and https://deannemincer.wordpress.com or join me on facebook