Tag Archives: Religion. meditation

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

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The 52: Lesson Twenty Nine — Stolen Anything Lately?

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butterflyblueskyWhat?  I am not a thief, you say.  I don’t steal.  But it may not be all that easy…

When was the last time you were late to a meeting?  Did you “steal” the valuable time of others?  Has it ever occurred to you that hoarding — keeping more than you actually need, be it food, money, possessions, could be a form of stealing?  Have you ever taken someone else’s idea and pretended it was yours, taking credit which belongs to another?  And how about stealing emotions from others — by pretending to be connected but actually being detached from them?  Or having “casual sex” which was only casual for YOU and not the other person.

In this lesson, we continue examining the moral and ethical “limbs” of the Eight Fold Path of Yoga.  This is one of the yamas.  We have already spent time with the first two — non-violence and truthfulness.  Now we turn to asteya, non stealing.  As you have seen, there is considerable depth to each of these concepts.  That is how it works in this spiritual study of yoga.  You can’t just say in a flippant way something like this. “Me?  I don’t steal from people.  I am not a thief.”  And maybe you are not and never have been.  Let’s see…

LESSON TWENTY NINE

ASTEYA — NON-STEALING

From the first time I heard of the yamas, my mind went straight to the Ten Commandments.  They were rules.  You could take an inventory and check off the ones where you deserved a gold star and the ones that seemed a little “iffy.”  At one point in my yoga practices, I went through each of them every single day, just before meditating.  I did this self-examination through the yamas.  At the beginning, just as with the Ten Commandments, I think I did some kind of surface evaluation.  It took a long time for me to recognize just how much depth there is to each.

Before saying more, please remember that these lessons are not meant to set up a sense of guilt or failure.  We have already ascertained who you are at the depth of your being.  That you are loved beyond measure and that IT is the core of your being. But we still live in the world, illusion or otherwise.  If we can better align our daily behavior with our spiritual Truth, we will certainly find ourselves lighter and happier.  There will be congruity.

Swami Sivananda wrote:

Desire or want  is the root cause of stealing.

This is interesting to contemplate.  If we are content with what comes to us, to fill our needs, we will not be tempted to steal.  Yet we are surrounded, from the time we are infants, with the notion that we need more, should accumulate more.  Advertising and commercials ceaselessly tell us about all the things and experiences we don’t have.  On top of all of that, the implication is often made that, unless we have those “things,” what ever they may be, we are inadequate, unworthy.  We don’t “rock.”  It is no wonder then, that we are sometimes willing to do anything to get them.

Here are a few thoughts to consider, remembering that you are “witnessing” your behaviors, not “judging” them:

  • The most basic idea in non-stealing is whether or not you have knowingly stolen something that does not belong to you.  This is not hard to evaluate, unless you steal without even knowing or thinking about it. If you robbed a bank or stole a purse, you know you have been stealing.  If you put an article of clothing in a bag and did not pay for it, you stole something.  If the cashier forgot to charge you for something and you knew it, did you steal?  Just think about what you may have taken that was not yours. whatever it was.
  • What about stealing of personal information, like passing on a confidence that was shared by a friend.
  • If you regularly play loud music or party late into the night, are you stealing quiet time from others?
  • Do you repeatedly interrupt conversations to make your own point?  Is this stealing?
  • Do you steal from the environment if you use more of something than you need?
  • How about stealing from animals or mother nature?

These questions are posed to broaden the concept of non-stealing.  Again, they are not meant to evoke guilt or shame.  The PC (politically correct) police do a good job at that already.  YOU decide what makes you comfortable and how you feel.  I might say that I could likely answer yes to many of the above questions — though I never robbed a bank or stole a purse.  At least not in this lifetime.

Let me know if you have other ideas to contribute on this subject of non-stealing.  I am always interested in what you think.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Twenty One — Some Touching Thoughts

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butterflyblueskyWhat does the word, touch, mean to you?

You might say, “Oh, I was so touched by your gift.”  Or “I used to watch the TV show, “Touched by An Angel.”  You could go to a practitioner for a kind of body work called Healing Touch. Or you may make a conscious effort to get in touch withsomeone who is sick and ailing or saddened with grief.  You might pet your cat or dog because that contact, that touch, is soothing and beneficial to both human and animal.

The sense of touch is one of the five senses that includes sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. In earlier lessons we explored the senses of sight and sound.  Now we give particular attention to touch and what it means to us in the world and in the spiritual sense.  In yoga, we study one of the eight limbs of classic yoga called pratyahara, the control of the senses. We learn new ways to be conscious of how the senses impact our lives, how to use them to enhance our everyday life, and, ultimately, if we wish, we learn to detach from them as much as possible.

LESSON TWENTY ONE

THE SENSE OF TOUCH

The skin is the largest sensory organ of the body.  It is our outer “coating” and provides us with valuable information.  It protects us by sensing pain so we don’t burn ourselves on a hot stove.  It registers the comfort of warmth when the sun soothes our bodies on a cool day.  It tells us that we need to put on a coat when we walk outside and feel a chill as a cold wind strikes our bodies.  It acts as a source of pleasure when we are touched by certain people in certain ways.

Research has shown that people need to be touched in order to thrive and be happy.  Years ago a study revealed that children in an orphanage did not thrive and grow if they were not held and touched.  Indeed, some even withered from the lack of touch.  Perhaps, even as we age, we are prone to a kind of emotional “withering” if we aren’t touched in some way by those around us.  Notice that we may shake hands on meeting someone new or hug and give a kiss on the cheek or an “air” kiss.  A high-five is a form of touch as is a pat on the back or an athlete awarding another team member with a body bump.

But what does all of this have to do with a spiritual life and becoming lighter and happier?  We can learn to use the sense of touch to improve and enhance our lives.  Here are some ideas:

  • Think about the clothes you wear and how the fabrics feel against your skin.  Do you wear wool sweaters even if they make you itchy? Do you choose stiff fabrics or structured clothing that is not comfortable to wear?  Do you wear skin tight jeans, even if your body is “stuffed” into them, just because they make a fashion statement?  Think about what you put on your body.  It is your decision. Why not be as comfortable as possible.  Why not?
  • Do you take into account the temperature around you so that you do your best to feel comfortable wherever you are?  So you prepare and dress in such a way, taking into account the weather, the temperatures and your activities?
  • Aside from comfort, what feels really good next to your skin?  A fluffy, soft, fleecy thing?  A cashmere sweater? A cozy bath robe?  A silky shirt?  Soft cotton shorts and tops?  Whenever you can, indulge this sense of touch.
  • Do you regularly reach out and actually touch those people you love. Do they touch you?  It is not too late to start if you feel you are lacking in this area.
  • Could you make it a habit to extend your love to others by touching them in meaningful ways, holding a hand or touching an arm, hugging and embracing?  I often think of people who may rarely be touched, such as the elderly or infirm or those with disabilities.  It takes so little effort to reach out in kindness.
  • Become a connoisseur of what pleases your sense of touch, not to be attached to it but to bring pleasure.

I will be very touched if you take this lesson to heart.  See how much lighter and happier you will feel with observing yourself and the sense of touch.  The more conscious you become about the senses, the more your world will change.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

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

The 52: A Lighter, Happier YOU — So, What Are You Thinking?

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butterflybluesky

Just what are thinking now?  And all day long? What is rolling around in your mind?  Are you paying attention?

This week’s lesson is focused on a time tested, relevant method for changing perpetual ways of thinking.  For bringing them to light and then acting on them.  Do you realize how important this is?

I first heard about this idea from Dr. Henry Grayson (see previous post and check him out online at www.henrygrayson.com.  One day he suggested that I monitor my thoughts by writing them down all day long, noting those that are troubling.  I looked at him with glazed eyes.  “Are you kidding?” I thought.  Who has time to do such a thing?  We laughed about it, but what he said was not lost on me.  I began noting those thoughts that were self destructive or, if not so extreme, just repetitive and damaging on some level.  These were things like telling myself : I wasn’t organized enough.  I wasn’t teaching enough classes.  I wasn’t caring enough to my friends and family.  I wasn’t reading enough books.  I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, kind enough… Blah, blah, blah.  And those were the easier ones I told myself. 

As I began thought monitoring and deleting those thoughts, I noticed tangible change.  Not that some of those thoughts didn’t slip in and I missed them from time to time, but I saw the pattern.  I saw that a lot of it revolved around a sense of lack of worthiness.  Noticing this changed my life.

I am not saying I liked acknowledging how lomg I had held onto terrible thoughts and how deeply set they had taken root, even in my childhood.  It hurt quite a lot to acknowledge this.  I had spent much of my life acting in ways to deny how much fear and sadness was there..  But now, like a miracle, it was out in the open.  It was no longer cloaked in dark places. I began to find new ways — thanks to Dr. Grayson and my intense yoga spiritual studies and beliefs — to start dissolving those fear based thoughts. 

In future lessons,we will give attention to removing these sad core beliefs, to set new core beliefs in place, and to penetrate the depth of those beliefs to excise them.

For now, I hope you have begun thought monitoring. Please don’t be afraid to clear this clutter. It cannot hurt you.  You are much bigger than any thoughts you have. You are the essence of love.  Believe it!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more. go to www.deannemincer.com and visit on Facebook

The 52: Lesson Fourteen — Eternal Life AND Love

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butterflyblueskySpringtime has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy Springtime. We think of springtime as bringing renewal. As I write this, it is springtime in New England, where I live.  The sun is warming the earth and, in response, green shoots are popping out of the soil, woodchucks are emerging from their hibernation and foraging for sustenance, new, colorful birds are arriving in the midst of their travels.  There is a song in the air and an expression  of  lightness in the faces of people enjoying the fresh air..

We think of springtime as bringing renewal, and it does.  One of the Christian holidays that marks this time of year is Easter, the celebration of true re-birth, hope, and love. A triumph of eternal love.  All of these qualities are worthy of celebration, not just in the spring, but in all seasons of our lives.

Perhaps Easter is not a holiday you celebrate. Even so, I believe that Easter is an important day for all of humanity.  Why would I say this?  The “story” of Easter and resurrection is immensely valuable to contemplate when thinking of the meaning and duration of life and love.  I am enthralled with the story of the passion and the unconditional love that is predominant in the Easter story.  Of course, I was raised in a Christian family and Easter, with all its pageantry, was a special day in my life.  I liked searching for Easter eggs, eating jelly beans, enjoying a springtime dinner with family, and dressing up in new clothes that reflected the sunny days and flowers blooming.  Our family album is full of pictures of my mother, father, and brother, all decked out in new Easter finery, with my brother and me clutching Easter baskets full of treats.

For many years, I discounted the story of Easter.  Those were the years when I took a sabbatical from organized religion.  In fact, I pretty much discounted all the stories of miracles and faith, Christian or otherwise.  That was then.  Now, again, I call myself a Christian but right along with this statement, I could equally call myself a Yogi , and a believer in the mystical branches of all religions.

I relish the chance to say Happy Easter.  The significance of the story of Jesus and resurrection, of eternal life and love, and of what this says about death (or no death, to be exact) resonates with the truths of the most ancient spiritual writings.

I have written quite a lot about eternal love.  I hope you will take a minute to go back to Lesson Six that focused on this subject.  It will give you a better idea of how I came to so firmly believe in the continuation of life after we depart the body and why I have not the vaguest doubt that love is eternally the most important subject of all time.

So now, at this time of renewal and rebirth, we remember the truth that our souls are free from death.  We only depart from our bodies, yet WE continue to be the Divine Spirit and embodiment of Love.

LESSON FOURTEEN

ETERNAL LIFE AND LOVE

This is the Practice for this week’s lesson:

  • Take a bit of time each day to contemplate the idea of eternal life and love.
  • Carve out a few minutes to sit in silence.  Calm your body and your breath.  Long slow breathing.
  • Now contemplate these words from A Course in Miracles:

You dwell not here but in eternity.

You travel but in dreams while safe at home.

  • Think on these words.  What does it mean for you, for those who have already “died” and for those you love who will surely leave their bodies?
  • What if you are already dwelling in eternity, but have failed to recognize this?
  • What if you are safe at home all the time?
  • What if you are, right now, the perfect embodiment of love, but you have confused this truth with messages from the world of dreams.

I do not pretend that this is easy material to consider, especially if you are seeing it for the first time.  It is, nonetheless, the basis of most spiritual paths, dating from the earliest writings that still exist.

This is where we are heading.  And, whether you embrace these beliefs or not, it does not alter the Truth.

You are Love.

You are Eternal.

Life is Eternal.

Love is Eternal.

These words are not just meant for Jesus or Buddha or saints or gurus.  These words are about YOU!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more thoughts, go to www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Is Your Life Music to Your Ears?

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Meow!  Meeeeeeooooow!  Meow!  It is a shrill sound and very loud.  It penetrates right down to your bones, if you let it.  It comes without warning, in the midst of day when I am typing away and concentrating on my writing.  Or it comes in the middle of the night, while I am sound asleep.  For awhile it was jarring, but now I just smile.  It is the distinct sound of our almost twenty year old Siamese cat.  We adopted her after my mother passed away.  She is nearly blind and hard of hearing, yet still quite beautiful and lively.  Even if the sound is abrasive and shocks me, I don’t mind it anymore.  I love that little old, elderly cat and have come to even relish hearing her shrieking voice.  That’s how we sometimes adjust to sounds.

What do you hear right now?  How do you react to the sounds around you?

This lesson has evoked some interesting responses.  A lot of people are surprised at how much they experience dissonance and feel many ranges of response — even anger.  All the time these reactions have been there in a subtle form — creating discomfort and unhappiness, yet they went un noticed.  No wonder we don’t understand why we have levels of stress and agitation and don’t know why.  It is time to pay attention.

Please go back to the previous lesson and continue the practice of observing what you hear.  You cannot alter your environment if you don’t even know what is troubling to you.  Pay attention!  Begin the process of  becoming lighter and happier.  Clear out the cacophony as best you can or just accept the “noises” you cannot alter.  Then introduce those sounds that are soothing to you and that enrich your experience of the world.

Who knows?  Some day you might even try singing hymns or chanting sacred words.  Then you will be elevating and bringing beauty, not just to your world, but to your own level of Divine Energy.

Let your life become “music to your ears.”

With love and namaste,  Deanne

For more thughts, go to www.deannemincer.com