Tag Archives: St. John of the Cross

More Memories of Memorial Day

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mother portrait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coincidence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Thoughts on Lesson Two: A Lighter, Happier YOU

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butterflybluesky

‘Welcome back!

As I am hearing from you, I realize that some are calling the course “the 52”  I like that.  If that rings for you, we can all be on “the 52” together.

Let’s do a little check up:  Is your body less tense in the last day or two?  How are you right now?  Any tightness in the shoulders?  The neck?  Is the jaw locked in tension?  Is your back strained?  Just asking!  I am hoping that you are regularly asking these questions.   I promise that, if you are, you will experience change.  And you are loving your body at the same time.

You see, we want our bodies to be the recipients of all the tender loving care we will be experiencing in the upcoming weeks.  So we are sending a wave of softness to soothe the body — right from the crown of the head to your feet.  In a short time, this can become second nature.  It will only take a second or two to calm your body, to feel your shoulders drop down and relax.  There is a reason the expression about carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders became so well-known.  That is exactly how it feels sometimes.  I know.  I remember feeling that way.

If you would like some feedback, write back to me.  If you have engaged someone to be your on the spot support system, I would like to know how it is working.  Over the coming weeks, you will develop a dialogue of common life changing habits and thought patterns.  It is fun to watch the change in yourself and others.  This is meant to be fun — like a game.  And you will always be the winner.

I am here for you!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more information, go to www.deannemincer.com and read some of the other blog posts.  Thanks!

 

Lesson Two: A Lighter, Happier YOU in 52 (Weeks)

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In our first lesson, we reminded ourselves to say our mantra:  I LOVE MYSELF COMPLETELY NOW. 

In lesson two, we will be turning to the outer-most part of our being — our  bodies.  This is the physical presence we wear in the world.  It is our costume in the play.  It is the vehicle that transports us.  Of course, that body changes over time.  Which model do you have now?  It isn’t the one you had ten years ago — or even yesterday.  We want to keep it tuned up.  But how do we do this if the body is overwhelmed with stress and tension?  We must learn to love every part of our being in this course.

Think about this:  How light and happy can you be if  your body is as tight as a twisted knot?  We may say our affirmations and that is very good, but our outward demeanor may serve to undermine those words. 

We are human beings of multiple levels  and that includes the  body, breath, mind, senses, and spirit. Each of these must be attended to if we are to stay in balance.  A wholistic approach is what I am suggesting to becoming lighter and happier.

As Yogi Amrit Desai, the founder of Kripalu, one of the largest and oldest yoga centers in the United States, said,

The body is the temple of the spirit.

We want that temple to be shiny and welcoming to ourselves.  Don’t forget. too, that we include the body in loving ourselves completely now.  No part of us is left out, no matter what its outward condition.  We learn to love all of us.

Now  I will suggest a simple practice.  We will keep it simple, just as I promised.

LESSON TWO

I am calling this a weight-loss lesson. Why?  Because we are going to find ways to “take the weight of the world” off our shoulders, our back, our neck.  Now that is a weight loss program we can ALL use.

Right now, take a few seconds to mentally scan your whole body.  Where do you feel stress or tension?  Is it in the shoulders?  In your jaw line?  In your lower back? In the neck? For the majority of people these are the most common target zones.  So, first, we need to know what to look for and how to help ourselves.

Sit in a chair or stand up, which ever is most comfortable. Close your eyes. Scan your body.  Note any tightness. Resolve to soothe and calm the body. Imagine a warm fluid flowing over your body, from the top of your head downward,  melting away any tension and sore muscles, wherever they may be.  As you breathe, feel that each breath calms any areas that are holding tension.  Allow your shoulders to release away from the neck and give way to gravity. Say to yourself:

My body is softening.  My body is growing calm.  I am relaxed.

It is simple to do.  But you must repeat it often. Certainly, whenever you feel tension returning. Do this body scan even when you aren’t aware of tension. Tension can be insidious and become a habit.  Whenever you feel anxiety or stress, let it go, wherever you are – in the car, at your desk, washing dishes, in a meeting, at the grocery store, in bed.  Remember that you are being kind and loving to your body so that it can support your happier life. 

Become a student of your own body, but not like a rigid task master.  Instead be a kind and compassionate observer.  Be the kind of person who says:

I love myself AND MY BODY completely now.

Remember you can invite someone else to travel this transformation journey with you.  A supporting helpmate could be just the thing you need. Or consider me your fellow traveler. I am here to help.

Be sure to follow this blog so that you know when new postings occur and look at other, earlier postings and go to www.deannemincer.com for more information.

I am honored to share with you this path of transformation.

With love and namaste, Deanne

 

No Thoughts. No Words. Just Silence.

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In silence there is eloquence.

Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.

Thus wrote the great Sufi mystic, Rumi.  Why is it that so many of us are reluctant, indeed, afraid, to be silent.  To allow our thoughts and words to drop into the back of our consciousness and to rest in the stillness.  To simply be, with no adornment and without commentary on who we think we are and what role we play in the world.  What happens to us, the ones we think we are, during those times of quiet?  Are we still here?  Do we still exist?

What if we found that,  without all the adjectives that we attach to our name, we are actually MORE alive and joyous when we step into the place of silence?  All of those stories we tell ourselves about who we are and all the trappings we have in the world are okay, but they DO NOT define who we really are.  Only when we step aside, witness, and see through divine eyes, do we see our magnificence.

Silence is a source of great strength.

Lao Tzu

All of us can take the time to just be silent.  You don’t have to do formal meditation or go on a retreat.  Maybe you just clear the thoughts and words out of your mind for a few minutes just before you fall asleep or at a designated convenient time during the day or just before dinner.  See what happens.  Thoughts and words will probably rise.  Take a look at them, don’t get hooked, just let them go.  You might even repeat “No thoughts.  No words.  Just silence,” as a type of mantra and reminder.  Then, when you are finished with your “vacation” from thinking, don’t analyze what happened.  Let it all go.

Saint John of the Cross said:

It is best to learn to silence the faculties and to cause them to be still,

so that God may speak.

It has long been known that silence is capable of opening a doorway, a sacred link to the eternal being that is you.  There is much wonder to behold when you engage silence as a personal habit.  So take a moment to glimpse or fully experience the you that is ever eternal and embraced in love.  What could be more important?

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