Letters

Taf Retouched

One of the best parts of doing what I do is getting letters from people who've been helped by the books and teachings. They always make me feel renewed gratitude to the teachers who've shared liberating knowledge with me, and to all the friends near and far who bring that knowledge to life by putting it into practice. Here are a few letters, in the hope that they'll encourage you on your path.

New letters are added from time to time. If you have experiences or reflections you'd like to share, please write to me at dean@deansluyter.com

Thank you …

– Dean

 

'I'm 84 years old ... '

 

Thank you for writing The Zen Commandments.  I have read, and own, many books on Buddhism and “spirituality” and I am indeed grateful to many writers of them  — especially Eknath Easwaran and Pema Chodron and Byron Katie and Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Thoreau, Whitman, Rumi, Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hahn, etc. But your book stands out as being so human, warm, encouraging, interesting — it is a true  jewel in the lotus! I am going to find your other books also.  Thanks!  Yours is a book I will be rereading many times. I’m 84 years old but not too old to begin to experience what it means to have a  heart as well as a mind.

 

'Today is day one.'

 

I read The Zen Commandments years ago and re-read from time to time. Last summer I bought a copy for my wife and both of my adult children. I gave it to them for Christmas. My daughter, a wonderful elementary school teacher, suggested we do a father/daughter book club. Today is day one.

I am primarily a nonfiction reader. I read biographies, history, etc. This might make you chuckle but other than your book the only other self help book I draw upon frequently is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People “
 
Thanks for your writing and teaching. As with all good teachers, you will never know how many lives you touch.

Hi Dean,

Love the sessions. Is it okay to keep eyes open and unfocused for the sort of meditation we do? I have always had a relaxation “pose” that involves “slackening” my eyes, for lack of a better word. I can look at everything and let the stimulus wash over me without needing to respond to it. It’s my way of just being.  Due to my eye condition, I find closing eyes while totally awake to be agitating.

Thanks for the weekly doses of calm.

All my best,

 

'I am really struggling with obsessive thoughts. '

 

Dear Dean,

 
I am so glad that I found your books! 
 
I have Natural MeditationFear Less and the Zen Commandments (audio and hard copy). I love your writing style. I love your YouTube videos. I spend such a lot of time listening to you and reading your work, I now consider you a virtual friend. You have helped me so much to manage stress and fear, something that is really challenging for everyone at the moment, so thank you so much. 
 
I learned TM in 2018 and found that it had a good effect but it seemed that something was missing with it. I still felt anxious and irritated. I didn't always feel as peaceful as I had hoped. I find that Natural Meditation does give me a more abiding sense of peacefulness and I wondered if you had any insight as to why this would be. I suspect it has to do with the way that I was trying too hard to be effortless with TM. 
 
Another thing I would like to ask you is about OCD. I am a sufferer — I also have Asperger's Syndrome and anxiety and I am really struggling with obsessive thoughts at the moment. I am finding it very hard going and am reaching out to you as I have found the techniques you lay out in Fear Less to help a lot, especially 'relax your grip' and dropping your thoughts. I still find that the thoughts have a very strong emotional charge (they can terrify me, I feel the sense of dread flood through me) and I wondered if there was any advice you can offer me on dealing with this. I dream of the day when thoughts no longer bother me and that I can act from a place of calm relaxation.
 
I am thinking that the root of the fear is around attachments. How do I begin to release them? I am guessing that it is by relaxing my grip but I am afraid that if I do that, I will lose the things I hold most dear.
 
Thanks for all you do.
 
 
Reply:
 
Thanks so, so much for your kind words. It's always very encouraging and very helpful to hear from people who are being benefited by my work. Really, nothing makes me happier.
 
As to your question about attachment to the things you hold dear, I just posted two new sessions to my YouTube channel ("Letting Go of Happy Thoughts" and "The Mind Is Like Wind") which I think you'll find to be right on point.
 
Aside from the insights you'll find there, my main advice to you would be to just keep practicing every day. Know that many, many people have been down this path before you, many of them with OCD, anxiety, etc. In subtle, quiet ways these afflictions soften up at their own pace as you continue to practice. Meanwhile, you're getting more and more clearly established in your recognition of your own nature, the Beingness that's always untouched by phenomena — so that, even though some softened-up version of the old stuff may remain, you're experiencing it (and everything else) from the place of freedom.
 
At some point you might also want to attend some short meditation retreats and perhaps eventually some longer ones. They give you a chance for a deeper immersion in both practice and insight. 
 
Please keep in touch, let me know how you're doing, and don't hesitate to ask again as other questions come up.
 

 

'I'm a lifelong asthmatic … '

 
Dear Dean,
 
I'm rather new to the mindfulness/meditation game. I've been a dabbler for years, but recently through work I'm a part of a group going through the Mindful Schools training program. Over the past few weeks, I've been practicing daily. This is mostly through technology. I wanted to experience live meditation work and, when I saw you were coming to my area to lead a daylong retreat, I jumped at the chance. 
 
I wanted to say how much I loved two things: 
 
1. The whole body exhale.
2. Breathing through the feet. 
 
I'm a lifelong asthmatic and recently received a diagnosis of MS that includes something called the "MS Hug" (which is more like a boa constrictor hug). Because of my anxiety around breathing, focusing on my belly or chest was really hard for me. Breathing through the feet and the whole body exhale were truly very helpful. 
 
Thank you so much!
 

 

'My 16-year-old son was diagnosed with lymphoma … '

 

Hello Dean,

I just wanted you to know that yesterday was a tough day. My 16-year-old son was diagnosed very unexpectedly with lymphoma and we are now at the hospital. The good news is that his prognosis is very good. Although we will know more after the biopsy today, his life-long pediatrician (who himself is a Hodgkins survivor), his oncologist, docs, and nurses all feel this is a very early detection and 100% curable. His spirit is great and he is still smiling.
 
The daylong meditation retreat I attended with you on Saturday has been on my mind throughout this ordeal. I feel certain that it helped me prepare greatly for for this awful, surreal experience. I have the Fear Less book with me here in the room as well as my yoga mat, and I feel very calm and empowered.
 
Thank you for your guidance. The cancer is now "That Guy," but I’m afraid we will be kicking that guy’s ass.
 
I appreciate positive thoughts and energies, of course — which somehow I know you are already sending as I write this.
 
May your blessings be numerous and your struggles be few, now and always.
 

 

'I was able to start breathing better … '

 

Dear Dean,

Checking in since it has been a very long time. Just want to express my gratitude for your teaching.

I recently had surgery to remove a facial melanoma and was given way too much fentanyl. l was struggling to breathe in the recovery room, and my wife put the cell phone near me with your Meditation #1 from Fear Less. We have listened to this together many times. I was able start breathing better and get the hell out of there before anything else happened.

I think of you often, with great intentions to go to the Tuesday night sangha, but alas, the neuromuscular boogie-woogie continues and makes it hard to get around safely. ... Anyway, I'm grateful for having excellent medical care, and for your efforts to use the internet, including your YouTubes of the Tuesday sessions.

 

'I was meditating because our Twelve Step program says we should. But … '

 
Hi Dean,
 
I just want to take a moment and tell you how grateful I am that B. introduced me to you and your Tuesday night meditation sessions. I’ve been in AA and sober for 37 years. I’ve practiced different meditations throughout those years, notably TM and Goenka's Vipassana. 
 
I was meditating because Step 11 in our Twelve Step program says we should. But I didn’t love it the way I do Natural Meditation. In fact, it was a chore. Each day I look forward to my late afternoon 30-minute meditation. I have a completely different attitude than I’ve ever had before. I love meditating now. I mean, I really LOVE it! 
 

 

'The impact has amazed me.'

 

Dear Dean,

I bought your book Fear Less after watching your Batgap interview (I’m on chapter 11).

I want to thank you for making available such a generous offering of resources on your website. I have listened to (and now purchased) Just Being, and also the Rest as Awareness album. That made me think how good it would be to be able to join you on a Tuesday night in Santa Monica. Then, exploring your website yesterday, I discovered you have started streaming your sessions. How wonderful to watch from where I live in central Spain!

I was deeply moved, so grateful to watch from start to end, sitting there in the silence with you all, feeling like I actually was a part of the group in your home. And the questions and answers resonated strongly with me. So I want to thank you from the depths of my heart for making it possible for me to be there, and would you please convey my grateful thanks also to the people attending, who are open to the filming of the sessions and the sharing online of their questions. It is a huge gift for me.

I have spent quite a few years now engaging in effortful meditation from different angles, with little satisfaction, although in recent months it had become less of an effort and more of a welcome space of peace. The impact of the Just Being tracks has amazed me. With your words and silence I do indeed drop into and rest in that welcome spaciousness. I don’t know why something so simple is easy to do with your accompaniment and seemingly not so easy without it.

So thank you again.

With warm regards and much appreciation …

 

'Your books have made it clear that any time is enough.'

 

Dean,

I have read and enjoyed all of your books and can't put the latest one down. I just wanted to thank you for making something like meditation so accessible. As a father of four, I barely have time to meditate, but your books have made it clear that any time is enough.

I also appreciate that you have made all traditions accessible. Its easy to get married to one path but again you make it clear that freedom is the goal

Thanks so much …

 

'I recommended it to my ex … '

 

Hi, Dean!

To be honest, my entire meditation journey is due to the fact that I had a very rough and tumultuous break-up. So, in many ways, you helped free me from that bind that I had with my ex and my own thoughts/suffering/what have you. I actually found such comfort in your book that I recommended it to my ex, and he said he bought it and he'll start reading it shortly. Sometimes things really change you for the better and you want to share them with the entire world — even with people who have hurt you. 

You'll be pleased to know that I'm still loving meditation just as much as I loved it when I saw you last month.

My meditation sessions are still delicious. My anxiety has decreased substantially. And I just remind myself that everyone is doing their own thing, let tomorrow worry about itself, and just be cool.

S'all good.