Tag Archives: Sufi

Casting Off

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mother portrait

A new cycle was beginning.

Jean, our hospice nurse, spent time examining mother. She spoke with confidence and gentleness to my mother. Everything had changed. Since the episode a night earlier, Mother was now too weak to leave her bed. She was confined by her own weakness. Her world began to change. Only days earlier, she had sat in her wheel chair, eaten a normal meal and laughed with us in another room. That was to be her last foray outside of her bedroom and her last burst of energy. Everything was shrinking – her appetite, her mobility, and her own body. But her mind was still quite acute. There was no way I was giving up on her. I still thought she and I could get her through this, despite what the doctors and hospice said.

After Jean took time to get acquainted with Mother, she asked all of us to join her in another room. The mood was sombre as we listened intently. Now we were in the world of hospice, a very foreign country to all of us. Already installed in Mother’s room was the humming oxygen machine to assist her breathing when needed. We had refused bringing in a hospital bed, wanting mother to be in her own usual bed.

Jean explained what it meant to have palliative care. She showed us the powerful drugs, like morphine and lorazepam (for anxiety) that would be available for Mother to help ease her through the process. Luckily, Mom was not in pain, and we were grateful for this. Jean warned us that we should not count on our memory to remember when and how much medication Mother was given. We should have a journal. My brother, the ever organized and with a Navy pilot thoroughness, prepared the journal for us.

I made the decision immediately that I would be the only one to give Mother the heavy drugs. I was still her protector and wanted to prevent her from being drugged unnecessarily. Then we learned of the array of other hospice workers who would be available to help. Ever polite and grateful, we walked Jean to the door, thanking her along the way.

When the door closed, we stood stunned but coping. Bill and Judy would soon be returning back home, but they knew they would never again hear Mother’s cheery voice or see her smile. Each took private time with her, holding back tears as best they could until they left the room. They also knew that this would be difficult for Richard and for me and asked us to call whenever we needed help, no matter the time of day or night.

The four of us talked as Mother rested, still with her ever faithful Siamese cat by her side. We agreed on the plans for the funeral and who would be called in Ann Arbor. This would be the key part bill and Judy would play as we held vigil. As we talked, Judy continued knitting the pretty pink afghan she had been making for Mother as a Christmas gift. The afghan was only partially made.

On the morning that Bill and Judy departed, I stood in the kitchen alone with my brother. He said, “Judy cast off the afghan last night and is leaving it for mother just as it is.” She cast off, a knitting term that was a kind of closure on the item being made. Casting off is also letting the ship or boat be free to go out to sea. Mother was casting off her life as she knew it, and we were with her. The destination seemed certain, but the final journey was not yet charted. That was to be revealed to all of us, along with the ethereal lessons and miracles.

Judy left the afghan draped over Mother’s shoulders as she laid in bed. I tried to keep it there as much as I could, placing it to warm her neck. It was a parting gift made with love. At the time Mom took her last breath, that pink afghan was still warming her. But then, Mother had cast off permanently. She was sailing through clear and vibrant seas, and free at last. Soon she would bring us along.

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The Light. She Saw the Light.

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mother portrait

As I stood by mother’s bedside, talking to her and trying to reassure her, I was distraught. We brought her home and promised her that we would not send her back to the hospital and now the worst had happened. We did not yet have everything hospice would provide to help her and, from what I was witnessing, she could die at any moment. I felt helpless and wanted to cradle her in my arms for safe keeping. I kept telling her I loved her and everything would be okay. Even if she didn’t respond; I knew she would hear me on some level.

Over the years, I had many times felt that it was up to me to save mother. It was, of course, a foolish thought, but one that carried a shared agreement between us. She and I would both do our best, so we could enjoy more time, laughs and adventures together.

Now, I found myself running in and out of her room, down to the kitchen to get anything I thought might make her feel better – peppermint tea, cool water. I held her hand and talked quietly to her, I used some of my Reiki energy, moving slowly over her body and calling forth all healing. I prayed. I chanted my mantra.

In short order, Bill and Judy heard the commotion and came from their bedroom on the third floor and met up with me in the hallway. I don’t know why I hadn’t wakened them before. They would surely have helped.

“What’s going on?” they asked urgently. I told them I thought it was possible Mom was dying. It was the first time that they saw her in this state, even though it had been happening frequently in the hospital. They gathered around Mother’s bed, talking with her and trying to soothe her. Now they saw firsthand how grave the situation was. I told them I would call hospice and see if they could help.

As I spoke with hospice, I explained that mother had not yet been admitted to their system. She was scheduled for this the next day.
It never occurred to us that one day would make such a difference. We had none of the powerful drugs hospice would bring the next day. I begged them to tell me what to do. They did their best. We were all helpless. They suggested we dial 911. We all said no. We were on our own and frightened beyond measure. Mother would have to make herself live through that long night. And she did. But something happened to her that night that I did not, at the time, fully understand.

When Mother was again able to speak, she looked up at the ceiling and repeatedly pointed to something. “The light” she said, wistfully, “Look at the light.” She smiled slightly and turned to me. She thought that I could share what she saw. I could not, but I was very familiar with these words as a common statement made by those who have had near death experiences. They usually saw a light not describable in this world and one that brought enormous peace.

I believe now with certainty that, during that night, my mother parted the thin veil separating life and death, as we termed it. She had crossed into the Light of Eternal and Divine Love. Now everything would be different for all of us. Now she would be teaching and showing us, in her own way, that she had already seen where she was going.

The 52: What is to Come Next? I Would Like Your Help!

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butterflyblueskyLast week, Lesson 52 was completed.  Just as the 52 lessons began with Love, so they ended.  Love is the ultimate spiritual practice.  It holds everything within it.  My heart has felt opened and filled with Love in writing each post.

As I contemplate the future for this blog, I respectfully request your feedback.  Many have written asking that this course be offered in book form.  Others want it to be repeated, as a blog.  Some of you would like a means of communicating with others who are reading The 52.  Please let me know what you think.  I would also like to know more about you. In addition to my many readers across the U.S., The 52 has  developed a large following in several other countries including Ireland, China, The Netherlands, and  Russia.  All of you, and your thoughts, matter a great deal to me.  So I would value knowing which lessons resonated the most with you and if you found them easy to follow. You can respond to this blog or on Facebook or to my email addresses at deanne@deannemincer.com or dminc100@aol.com. Let me know what YOU would like.

A year ago, I rather spontaneously (and perhaps, audaciously) decided to put into print the many teachings I have shared with my students and learned, both  by study and reading and through mystical experiences, from many sources on my own spiritual journey.  These have brought together the classic teachings of yoga and the mystical branches of many religions.  The lessons have been informed by the teachings of Jesus, the Buddha, Rumi and other Sufi masters, native and aboriginal traditions, Judaic mystical writings, ancient Hindu texts and other forms of inspired spiritual lessons.  While certain themes have repeated themselves, I have sought to give bullet point suggestions for you to put into practice those ideas and to offer a multitude of guidelines.  Believing that all paths lead ultimately to the great Source, to the Light of Eternal Love, to Truth, to freedom, to God, each reader could choose what most resonated with them.

Years ago, I subscribed to a course provided by the Siddha lineage of yoga.  It was, at the time, called The Siddha Yoga Correspondence Course and was authored by Ram at the request of his guru, Muktananda.  In the very first lesson, I recall reading that it would contain everything we needed to know, all subsequent lessons would be different approaches to the same theme.  The lessons were surprisingly simple (as I have tried to make The 52 simple).  The Course requested only that the reader repeat reading the same two lessons throughout the month, reading the words and imbibing the energy therein, even if the words made no particular sense.  Just being present to the Divine Energy therein would be enough.  And it was!

Later I began the daily readings of A Course in Miracles. I have since read every word of the text and information for teachers and have repeated the workbook section more than once.  Repeated reading has brought more and more spiritual benefit and insight.

I hope that The 52 bears repeating and that your depth of understanding will increase with time. (Although I do not pretend to the high powers within A Course in Miracles.)  So, for now, I intend to re-edit and add some fresh material to the lessons begun last year.  Starting next week, the newer version of The 52 will begin.

And now — another request.  The opportunity to change people’s lives, to let them experience a lighter, happier life, and to recognize that they ARE Divine Love will increase exponentially when this message is shared.  If The 52 has been of benefit to you, I ask that you share it with others. Please forward the emails, share it on Facebook, let your friends bask in the Light of Eternal Love.  My one purpose in writing these words has been to be of service and to help others. Won’t you join me on this journey? I will be most grateful to you.

I thank you for your kindnesses and for your support and encouragement as I offered these sincere words from my heart.  My heart bonds with yours as we see that all of us are, indeed, one. You are the Light of Eternal Love.

Maybe you should know yourself for just one moment.

Maybe you should glimpse your most beautiful face.

Maybe you should sleep less deeply in your house of clay.

Maybe you should move into the house of joy, and shine in every crevice.

Maybe you are the bearer of hidden treasure.

Maybe you always have been.

RUMI

I think you already ARE!

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 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 Two — Can Your Breathing Heal Your Body?

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butterflyblueskyThich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk observed:

Breathing in, I calm body and mind.  Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment. I know this is the only moment.

Do you think it is important to calm the body and mind?  Do you think doing this and paying attention to your breath can actually, tangibly change your mental and physical health?

For most of us, breathing is just second nature.  We are born and we breathe.  We breathe everyday until we take our last breath and then we don’t breathe anymore.  With that last breath, our body, deprived of oxygen (and the life force), has lost its support system.  It “dies.”

Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health.

Andrew Weil, M. D.

Are you ready to take charge of your breathing, your body, your mind?

LESSON THIRTY TWO

BREATH AND THE BODY

This is not the first lesson in The 52 that has been devoted to the breath.  How we breathe is so important that many of us spend a life time learning the subtle nature of the breath.  The more we know about it, the more we observe how its functioning alters our health, how we think and how we feel.

Take the body first:  If you asked most people, they would tell you that they want a strong and healthy body, one that will take them through-out their lives without illness.  We may say this but do we do what is needed?  Setting aside the obvious — those who smoke or use their nose to knowingly inhale toxic substances — we forget that disease has a step up in a body deprived of oxygen.  Of course we know about lung diseases, but what about cell deprivation in all the cells of your body?  What if you never fully breathe? What if you breathe the wrong way?  What if you voluntarily stop breathing as a habit.

Does the health of your body matter enough to you to spend a little time learning to breathe?

You can learn to improve your breathing.  Try this:

  • Are you breathing all the way down into your belly? Or is your breath up there, high in the chest? Consciously, make yourself breathe more deeply, into the belly.
  • Is the breath fast and choppy instead of slow and steady?  You want it to be long and smooth.  Work on it!
  • Do you stop breathing?  When you do certain things or think certain thoughts or move your body certain ways?  Don’t stop breathing!  Keep it going.  When you “hold” your breath you deprive it of oxygen and throw off the rhythm.  Maybe you are “holding off” your life.
  • Don’t just check your breathing once or twice a day.  Do it a lot.  Give yourself some kind of reminder, a signal, something you see or hear and, each time, you are reminded to check your breath.  It isn’t a chore and won’t take much time.  Just do it!
  • Each time you breathe, take it as a blessing.  Breathe in love, clarity, good health, kindness, and breathe out illness, weakness, anger (or anything you want removed.

My favorite poet, the Sufi master of Divine Love, Rumi, wrote:

There is a way of breathing that’s a shame and a suffocation

And there’s a way of expiring, a love breath,

That lets you open infinitely.

What about you?  Would you like your simple breathing to change the quality of your life?  You have the power, you know!

With love and namaste, Deanne

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

The 52: Lesson Twenty Four — What Will YOU Hear in the Silence?

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butterflyblueskyYou can hear the footsteps of God when silence reigns.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba spoke these words, to share with us the depth of power and the healing grace of engaging in silence.  Imagine the notion of being so close to the Presence, Divine Consciousness, to God?  We don’t have to be literal in interpreting Sai Baba’s words.  Even without belief, miracles can still occur.

We meditate to shut off the cacophony of the world and to go within. We turn off our iPods and computers, our televisions and radios so that we can be on our own, without the trappings of the world.  For anyone familiar with the practice of silence, it is well-known that the real adventure, the heroic exploring, is within us.  But, if we are addicted to the world and its busyness, we never experience or understand what is so special about resting in stillness.  If you try it, you might meet with some surprises — like touching the essence of your own Self, your own transcendent wisdom. Anything can happen…

LESSON TWENTY FOUR

SILENCE IS YOUR TRUE FRIEND

My favorite Sufi poet/mystic, Rumi, wrote this:

Now I will be quiet and let silence separate what is true and what is illusion,

as thrashing does.

“Thrashing ” may not be a familiar term to some of you.  It means to beat or hit repeatedly.  It is also a farming term.  Farmers thrash the seed from the husk, separating it from the hay.  This I see as Rumi’s intent in using the word – to find the “kernel” of wisdom while we are quiet.

You don’t have to go anywhere special to engage in silence.  Often we think it is necessary to go to a retreat, a meditation “cave,” a weekend seminar — somewhere other than our everyday life.  You don’t have to wait for a special occasion or event.  Right where you are you can start.

A weekly class I teach is called Meditation in Movement.  We settle ourselves into meditation and then, while meditating, we begin to slowly start moving through yoga postures.  It is paramount to recognize that the depth of meditation does not leave us and does not have to fit into a box or set period of time.

Here are some ideas that might prove useful:

  • Choose an activity,  usually something quite routine like riding a train or bus or drying dishes or eating lunch, when you will stop, for a moment, and remind yourself to be quiet.  Be in the present.
  • You might become super conscious of your “routine” activity and let it become an impetus to be present and silent.  At one time, during a period of upheaval, I made driving my car the practice.  I focused on every aspect of my driving — my hands on the steering wheel, my foot on the accelerator, watching for traffic — in truth, I was witnessing myself doing these things, but from a place of silence and acceptance.
  • If it suits you, pick a specific time to be still.  Early in the morning, before the world “kicks in” too much, just before dinner or bedtime.
  • Repeat the word “silence” whenever you feel the need.

We are learning, little by little, to “be.”  To hone our skills at altering our perception of who we are and what the world represents.

It is a worthwhile endeavor and can bring riches beyond our wildest dreams.

With love and namaste, Deanne

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