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The 52: Lesson Fifty Two — And Finally and Only — Love

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butterflyblueskyLove surrounds you.  

Of this be sure.

You do not walk alone.

These words, from A Course in Miracles, form the essence of The 52.  It is first, last, and always, the only and most important Truth to know and believe. Recognize it at the core of your being.  It is the path to true freedom.  Love destroys fear and the insidious messages of the ego, which you may have mistakenly taken to be the truth.  But hatred, judgement, anger, and hostility have no power where Love resides.  The darkness has no power over the Light.  It never has and never will.

Don’t be mistaken, this is not some trivial, maudlin, sentimental kind of love — the kind you might find in typical movies and songs and romance novels.  It is beyond physical love and that between individuals, though this kind of love carries a seed of Divine Love.  This is big Love.  It is not dependent on fluctuations in temperament or on the way the world is evolving or on another person. It does not wax and wane. It is only about YOU and the Divine Consciousness within you.

LESSON FIFTY TWO

LOVE YOURSELF

The image of the blue butterfly soaring toward the light conveys what The 52 is meant to represent.  It reflects how we, as humans, seek to find freedom and peace and the ability to feel and express love.  Sometimes we are not aware of this longing, but, nonetheless, it is there. The butterfly transforms itself, from the caterpillar that crawls on the earth, to a beautiful creature with wings outspread, flying in freedom.  All of us, no matter how much we think we are tied to the earth, has the capacity and wisdom to take flight. We can experience metamorphosis, just like the butterfly.  Our wings may be folded now inside a cocoon, waiting.  But then Love will split the cocoon and we will all fly free into the Light of Eternal Love.  All of us!  No one is left behind!

Once this happens — when you have even a glimpse of this Light — you will never be the same again.  You will know, in the depth of your heart, who and what you are.  You will recognize that you are not alone in this journey.  This is my purpose in writing.  To tell you this and that I am with you as a fellow traveler.  Many others are with you.  We will all find each other, just as you have found this writing.

In the Chandogya Upanishad, an ancient book of spiritual writings from India, it is written:

There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.

This is the light that shines in our heart.

It isn’t out there, some where.  It isn’t beyond your grasp.  It doesn’t depend on who you are, your good deeds, your history, your “worthiness.” It is your “birthright,” given to you for all time.  It was there before you took birth.  It will be there when you take your last breath and depart this plane.  It is eternal.  And it is present in this very moment, as you read these words.  Even if you and your ego doubt it, Divine Love and Consciousness do not.  I believe in it now to the core of my being, even though there was a time when I would have laughed at the notion.  Others have found the same Truth and many may have expressed it with greater influence or more wisely, yet I believe that it is my purpose to share it.  It was illuminated to me as the greatest gift of my life. This gift is meant to be shared.

So, here I stand, firmly grounded and steadfast and soaring with this Truth.  You are Love.  Love is you.  Love is in everything you hear, see, taste, touch and smell.  Love is ever-present and a present to you. To deny this is tantamount to denying yourself and all that is.

“I love myself completely NOW.”  This was the affirmation of the first lesson of The 52.  And so it is also the last.  If you have embraced this, repeated it over and over, no matter the circumstances, you will, in fact be, lighter and happier than you were when you began.  I promised that, if you followed the course, you would be a lighter and happier you in 52 (weeks).  I hope that you are.

 These writings and my beliefs have been non-denominational and have been planted in the spiritual belief systems of all faiths, tribes, and philosophies, all of which, at the core, share Love as the common and most important center of teaching and knowing.  Here, from the Holy Bible, is a favorite of mine.  From I Corinthians 13:

Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

Believe in Love. Love never ends.  Not ever!

With love and namaste, Deanne

PLEASE STAY TUNED.  While this is the last of The 52, nest week’s post will bring a new announcement.

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

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The 52: Lesson Fifty One — Stop Searching. YOU Are the Destination

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butterflyblueskyGod is a great underground river that

no one can dam up and no one can stop.

                              Meister Eckhart

We search and search.  We study and pray.  We read books and scriptures.  We meditate. We question.  We doubt.  We avoid and negate. We humans are not passive about God, even when we actively deny the existence of some “thing” called God or the Infinite or the Source or the Creator.  Most of the greatest minds in the world — from many disciplines including  science and philosophy — have pondered the quintessential  questions about God.  Are we searching for meaning to our own existence, for something more than the mundane birth to death and day-to-day aspects of our life?  And for those of us who are seekers on the spiritual path, it may seem surprising to finally come to the conclusion that we, ourselves, turn out to be the destination we seek.  That all we had to do was knock on the door and the Light would emerge from within us.  Not from outside.

LESSON FIFTY ONE

WHERE IS GOD?

What we seek is seeking us.

So spoke the great Sufi poet/saint, Rumi.  He got it.  So did Jesus.  He said in Luke 17:21 (KJV):

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Yes!  Within you right now, just where God has always been.  Not in some throne up in the sky, sending out judgements that reflect only our own ego needs about judging and approval and sin and death.  After years of separating myself from a God belief that was based on a child’s view of God, I now see only the Eternal Light of Love springing from the one I care to call God.  It does not matter whether or not you agree with me.  I don’t seek to argue the logic of it.  For years, I postured and felt smug in my arguments against God. Now my belief system has left logic behind a long time ago.  Why? Because I had the experience of God, and the joy was so immense, there was no turning back.  It is odd that it does not matter what you believe.  The Divine is within all of us, no matter who we are, whatever our religion or lack of it. That is how immeasurable that Love is.

Swami Vivekananada wrote:

The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, 

the moment I stand before every human being and see God in him —

that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.

For those of us who wish to explore and look inward, this becomes both a great freedom and a change that alters our perception of the world.  How can we look upon another, seeing God’s Light equally in them, and still practice violence and prejudice and hatred?  They are us!  And we are all equal in this great Love from God.

We are not some unworthy, soiled piece of cloth.  The expectation of all true spiritual paths is that we transform our thinking, that we abandon notions that we are unforgivable and lacking and not the embodiment of love.  Most of us have wallowed in the pains of our own constructed world, not realizing that it is nothing more than a “play,” and, we, as actors in this play, still sit in the audience and extend love to our own false identity as the player.

As The 52 draws to a close, I believe that the suggestions in this lesson are among the most valued of all I have learned over twenty-five years of study, teaching, mystical experiences, and communion with the Divine.  While it took a little while for me to completely embrace and understand the relevance of what I write here, I can only say that peace has come and fear has diminished.  This can be true for you too.

Out beyond the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

Rumi

Shall we make it a date?  I will look forward to meeting you there.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Forty Nine — The Courage to Surrender

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butterflyblueskySurrender is the faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything

even when you cannot foresee the outcome.

Deepak Chopra

The idea of surrender is not easy for many of us.  We function in the belief that we must be in control at all times.  We make the false assumption that surrender implies weakness and passivity.  We have grown so attached to this incorrect notion that our egos (which IS us to most of us) is the only hope.  So we place our trust, not in the all-powerful Divine that is the eternal us (The Self) at the core of our being, and hook our belief to the ever-changing, never reliable ego.  Such is the pity.

If only we had the courage to surrender!  And, trust in this, not only do you have the courage, it is, in fact, the place of the greatest reliability.  Letting go is the starting point where a peaceful life begins. We might call it trust in God or any other concept you hold that expresses to you Eternal Light and Love.

LESSON FORTY EIGHT

SURRENDER

“Thy will be done.”  Years ago, Dr. Larry Dossey wrote about the power of prayer in several books including Healing Words.  His findings at the time were considered ground breaking. He cited many studies that showed that some kind of “non-local” thinking or prayer could be transferred out into the energy fields where tangible results were corroborated. When people said “My thoughts and prayers are with you,” they might not have known how much power they were conveying.  Prayers do make a difference, yet some were more powerful than others.  The “God as Santa Claus” prayers, (those which gave out a list of what was wanted, like a child’s list to Santa at Christmas) could not match those that implied surrender.  The most powerful prayer of all was “thy will be done.”  Surrender and trust!

As most religions speak of surrender, so too does yoga.  With The 52, I have sought to share the brilliance of the Yoga Sutras as a powerful guideline for all of us.  The wisdom transcends religion per se, and can be effectively embraced by all, atheists and those of any belief system.

We have, throughout this course, reviewed the first two “rungs” or limbs of Eight Limbed Yoga.  Within the Niyamas (ethical guidelines and inner practices), comes the final lesson of surrender.  It is called, in Sanskrit, Ishvara Pranidhana, and shows us how surrender is a virtue and a significant sacred shift that changes our  lives.  This shift has the power to reunite us with the True Self, the eternal being that defines us.  It can effectively empty the ego of its influences and align us with Universal Consciousness.

All this power!  But this doesn’t mean it is an easy lesson for many of us to learn.  It has been one of my biggest challenges.  And I had to learn it over and over again.  It took dire circumstances to wrestle me free of the ego’s powerful force and the misery I was experiencing.

Several years ago, my elderly mother moved into our home.  She was 95 years old at the time, had an active and lucid mind, but was faced with several medical conditions that limited her mobility.  I jumped to meet the challenges but I underestimated totally what it would take.  Being a full-time caregiver and juggling work was more than I could handle, even though I still taught yoga classes and meditated everyday.  I was not about to surrender and accept how hard it was.  Instead, I fought ever more to keep her healthy and safe while I was falling apart physically, mentally, and financially.  And then we ran out of options.  She was over 98 years old, her body was worn out and she was too tired to go on.  We called on hospice.  Even then, I held out hope that she would “pull through.”  What was I thinking?  But the day came when it was clear that all of us, my mother,my husband, and I had no choice.  We could not change anything.  We could only surrender and wait.  That’s when the miracles began in earnest.  We let go, and it became a sacred sharing for all three of us.  We finally surrendered at last.

Of course I know that learning to surrender does not have to be under such sad and dramatic circumstances.  But now I can see when I am resistant and when surrender is the path to take.  My favorite Sufi poet, Rumi has written:

They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.

A few ideas that might help:

  • When you’ve programmed your day and will never finish all your tasks, think about letting some of them go.  What’s the big deal?  Who is judging anyway?
  • When you know that you are feeling fatigue, give yourself a break.  Go within for a while, take some refreshing cleansing breathes.  Have a cup of tea.  Or even take a little nap.
  • Have you ever been at the airport and your flight is delayed or cancelled?  I used to rant. Now I check out my options and try to “go with the flow.”  I feel much better this way.
  • Say to yourself, “Relax!” While there was a time when saying it was anathema to me, I can now easily say, “Thy will be done.”

If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.

Anne Morrow Lindburgh

Go ahead.  Take the leap.  Let go.  Let the winds of surrender carry you higher and higher.  Now you will soar like an eagle! Or maybe an angel!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Forty Five — Finding the Gold Within Yourself

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butterflyblueskyThe final mystery is oneself.

Oscar Wilde

Isn’t it odd that we are so hard on ourselves?  That we, the ones who live in this body and have a pretty good idea of our history and likes and dislikes seem to wrestle with knowing who we really are?  We get all mixed up in thinking false ideas. We hook ourselves up to the definitions made by the ego and go on our not-so-merry way.  We define ourselves by outward notions — things like our education level, our race, our appearance, our nationality, or income, our family, our possessions, our name, even our weight  — and wonder why happiness eludes us.

We are searching in all the wrong places.  We have to peel away the layers, as one might envision the thin layers of an onion.  In the Yoga Sutras, we refer to this as self-study.  We try to honestly and actively pursue the removing of these layers so our true and Divine Self can emerge into the Light.  This practice is called , in Sanskrit, svadhyaya.  Self reflection.

LESSON FORTY FIVE

SELF STUDY

Thomas Merton, an Anglo-American Catholic monk and mystic, has written:

The first step toward finding God, who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself.

There are many means to accomplish this task. Honestly observing our interactions with those around us is one way.  Another is by pursuing the reading of spiritual texts that enlighten us as to the traits of loving kindness.  For some, chanting a mantra, meditating, doing yoga poses, walking in nature, helping others are effective.  Showing genuine forgiveness and kindness to ourselves, perhaps for some by going to confession or following rituals that encourage self-examination.  As the external layers are removed, we are lighter and feel cleansed.

I have several times been in Bangkok, Thailand, and, each time, I have gone to The Temple of the Golden Buddha.  I never tire of the story.  I hope you will like it too.

Over 300 years ago, when then Siam was being attacked, a group of monks, wanting to protect their golden Buddha that was 10 feet tall and weighed at least 2 1/2 tons, covered it with 12 inches of clay.  They felt certain that it would be ignored and not taken.  They were right but, unfortunately, all the monks were slaughtered, and the secret was lost.  Then, in the mid 1950’s, the monastery that housed the statue had to be moved to another location.  A crane was brought in to raise the clay Buddha.  but the crane was not powerful enough as the Buddha was so heavy.  The Buddha was dropped and a small part of the clay cracked.  The head monk, taking a flashlight, saw something bright through the crack.  As he chipped away, he found what was enclosed inside — a solid gold Buddha that had been encased in clay.

This is like ourselves.  We mistake ourselves to be nothing but clay.  Common, ordinary clay.  But we too have a golden light so brilliant and a love so eternal that we fail to see what is inside of us. But when we look, with kindness and compassion, we will find the treasure and feel the elation.  We then know who we truly are and this surpasses the most rudimentary concepts of happiness.  It is bliss!

Some ideas:

  • Look honestly at yourself.  You will likely know if there are behaviors within yourself that trouble you.  Are you “short” with some people? Are you condescending?  Are you even cruel?  Begin peeling, little by little and count each change as a triumph.
  • Be grateful when you can see yourself more plainly.  There need be no fear.  They are only thoughts. Be grateful for inner wisdom.
  • Is there someone with whom to share your journey inward?  Maybe within a religious context?  Or a spiritual mentor?  Or a trusted friend?
  • Do not get lost in feeling guilt or shame.  It is easy to do this.  Forgiveness and compassion begins with YOU.
  • Watch as you become lighter and happier, more authentically you.
  • Be patient.  It could take some time.  Time does not matter.  You are on the path.
  • Keep saying “I love myself completely NOW,” throughout the process.

August Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize winning  playwright said:

Confront the dark parts of yourself and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness.

Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.

It might delight Wilson to think that we are all actors in a play.  The play of maya.  That gold at the core of our being remains the definition of who we are.  Perfect and the Light of Eternal Love, that’s who.  Nothing has changed. It is who we have always been!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

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

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

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

LESSON FORTY THREE

TAPAS —  THE FLAME OF CHANGE AND ENTHUSIASM

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

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

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

Khalil Gibran

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

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

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

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

These ideas may help you better understand tapas:

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

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

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Thirty Nine — Many Paths to Truth, What is Yours?

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butterflyblueskyHenry David Thoreau wrote:

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.

Over the years, I followed many paths, though I am not sure I always knew what I was seeking.  There was the path of my childhood faith, then the path of rebellion when I disavowed all that was religious or spiritual.  Even so, I was pulled toward discussions about God, either positive or negative.  Then something “happened,” and I was walking another path.  My journey has seen me forge ahead on different paths, but they were now all leading to one place — to Truth, Realization, Eternal Life and Love, the Divine, amd to God.  While yoga and the ancient texts, so resonant with wisdom, opened the first doors and still is the mainstay of my understandings, Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, and just about any system that is heart-led, is now my passion.

What about you?  Have you seen “take-aways” and “aha” moments in writings that emerge from a source different from some spiritual path you have followed?

LESSON THIRTY NINE

THE PATHS TO TRUTH

Many are stubborn in the pursuit of the path they have chosen,

few in pursuit of the goal.

Friedrich Nietzsche

You’ve met them.  We all have.  People who embrace a belief system, then fight (sometimes to the death) in serving that path, even when they seem clueless about reaching the goal of Truth and what it is.  We might call this blind faith.  And it is, in many ways, a dangerous thing.  It is a sort of fundamentalism that stretches across the spectrum of religions but also may be  planted deeply in non-theistic thought, like atheism, or political correctness.  It hinges on the belief that we (the believer) is superior to others who disagree.  It loses touch with the common and more important themes of forgiveness, love, compassion, and non-duality.

I have had quite a learning curve in understanding what it means to know Truth.  I will never forget being with my friend who introduced me to the Siddha Path of Yoga and the guru system.  I was too naive then to understand that she was there as a teacher and guide for me.  One day, after she had visited me in my home, I drove her to a car rental.  As she got into the car to continue her journey,  she waved to me with a broad smile and said, “I intend to become fully realized in this lifetime.”  I raised my hand to bid her adieu, as her words engulfed me, and a kind of astonishment  began to sink in.  In my child’s mind (spiritually speaking), it never occurred to me that someone would actually become enlightened NOW, in this life.  Didn’t that take lifetimes?  Weren’t we far from the mark?  Weren’t we too imperfect? How could this be?

This was before I understood that we are already “realized” and we just don’t know it a lot of the time, if ever.  That we are already the Light of Love and God.  That we have always been that and always will be that.  That, when we understand and trust that we are in the loving arms of Grace or the guru or Christ or Buddha or God, that we can relax and be guided.  That most of us think this “world,” this material place, with all it sensory input, IS the whole deal.  But that is NOT what we, as eternal beings, believe.  That we are, in fact, already perfect.  Yes, I said PERFECT.

Then I came to see that all the subsequent “paths” I walked, in tandem with my early Christian and yoga studies, pointing to the same thing.  It might have been the writings of Rumi or years of study in A Course in Miracles or The Sedona Method and many others.  The veil was parting, the Truth was emerging, the wonder was abundant, and mystical events were unfolding all around me.  Nothing would ever be the same again!

These are some questions to consider:

  • Does the path you follow lead to forgiveness, love, acceptance, and kindness for ALL beings?
  • Do you believe that, whatever your belief system, that you are unconditionally loved at all times?
  • Do you feel empowered by your path or diminished, not quite good enough, because of it?
  • Are you happy and fulfilled on your journey?
  • Does fear play any part in the belief system you follow?  If so, does this feel comfortable for you?
  • Do you love and accept yourself completely on this path?

It is not my role or my goal to try to persuade you to join a certain path. Everyone has free choice and can make this decision on their own.  I only hope that you will consider the possibility that this world is not all there is in life.  You could find that going within is be far superior to projecting outward.  You might be “looking for love in all the wrong places” when it is already right there, within you!

There are so many paths leading to Love.  I hope you will choose one, open your heart, and experience ecstatic joy.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writing, go to wwwdeannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Thirty-Eight — Well, Just How Pure Are You?

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butterflyblueskyWhat a challenge!  Can we be “pure” in body, mind, spirit, thoughts, and words?  What if you think you have accomplished one of them and then you have a little “slip?”  Say, you eat only raw foods, but you go to a banquet and have something else?  Or you promise yourself you will only have pure thoughts, then anger arises?  What then?  Is it time to go back to the last lesson — on forgiveness?

Purification is spoken about in many spiritual disciplines.  In yoga, it is called, in Sanskrit, saucha, and refers to purification on many levels — in body, mind and heart, in thought and action.  Saucha is the first of the niyamas or observances that make up a part of the Yoga Sutras, the comprehensive and reliable path as laid out by the yoga sage, Patanjali.  This eight fold or eight limbed guide is thoughtful and as relevent today as it was at the time it was written.  I like to think of sutras as guidelines.  If we are too rigid, we (and the ego) might use them as a means to beat ourselves up , to judge ourselves and others.  That would, from my viewpoint, defeat the whole idea that we are loved unconditionally, right now, just as we are.

LESSON THIRTY-EIGHT

SAUCHA — PURITY

When I was fairly new to yoga and its teachings, I took very seriously the idea of purification of the body.  I was learning to be a teacher of hatha yoga and understood very well how two of the “limbs” of classic yoga  were effective for the body — asana (the postures or poses of yoga), and pranayama (breath work).  Simply expressed, the poses are effective in purifying the physical body as well as the energy system, the nadis and the chakras.  The breathing practices help cleanse and purify by moving oxygen and prana through the body.  Of course, the mind and spirit benefit as well.

In addition to these forms of purification, there were others that I embraced.  They were things like weekly fasting on water and juices, cleansing through daily use (which I still do every morning) by using the neti pot and sending water through both nostrils and out, eye asanas to cleanse the eyes, and various and sundry other cleansings.  I can still hear the gasps from my yoga students when I describe the “string” neti, pulling sterile string through the nose and out the mouth, and, even more loud gasps, fasting then inducing vomiting (we called it purging) to empty the stomach of mucus and old contents.  Well, let’s just say, without going into some even more shocking methods, ,you could spend a lot of time on cleansing the body.  I sure felt clean but I’m not sure I was doing the big time, real purifications I needed — like purifying the mind and thought and heart.

Of course, I tended to want pure and fresh foods, eaten with intention and reverence.  My diet styles shifted and changed.  I had jars of sprouts growing and ground my flax seeds and balanced non animal proteins and felt quite virtuous and a little smug too.  Wasn’t I just being so pure?  In point of fact, wasn’t I just deceiving myself?  Every morning, before I began my formal meditation, my mind wandered through all the yamas and niyamas, giving myself a kind of check list of how I was faring on the spiritual path of yoga. Did I notice that, while I thought I scored high on some measures,  I still lacked forgiveness.  I was harsh in my  judgment of others and myself.  I only understood the baby steps of these concepts.  I had a long way to go…

Only when the purification REALLY began to happen, in my mind and heart, in actions and thoughts, did I know for sure I was actually doing something transformational.

Here are a few ideas to consider.  For some they are baby steps.  For others, they may be old hat.  It never hurts to be a beginner again.

  • Look at your body.  Is there something you can do today to help to purify and nurture your body?  Maybe you will drink some glasses of pure clean water or have a cup of green tea.  Perhaps you will do some yoga stretches or take a walk outside.  How about not eating that hot dog loaded with additives?  You may wish to speak to your body about how much you appreciate it.  Whatever you choose, let it be filled with love and pleasure.
  • Try changing your attitude towards something that is routine, like vacuuming the rug or taking out the trash. Think of it as purifying and cleansing.  Imbue it with positive energy.  Cleaning out a closet could be like this.  Or taking away clothing you no longer wear and giving it to others who would appreciate those garments.
  • Take a moment to see how you are thinking.  Clean up the “closet” of your thoughts? Like getting rid of complaining and negativity, judging and arguing.  You might even consider a little silence, giving your mind a chance to rest and be quiet.  Or you could meditate for a bit of time or extend you meditation.

Ultimately, the following  are the words I like best.  I could not find the attribution, so I am not sure who made this point, but, nonetheless:

The only “dirt” is Avidya, ignorance of the True Self.

When you know who you are and that you are Divine Light and Love, your heart sings, and everything else is window dressing.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writings and on the Yoga Sutras, go to http://www.deannemincer.com