Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You a Human BEing?

Be where you are.
                       Do what you are doing.
Experience life as it happens.

Practice being a human BEING, not a human THINKING. It is when we allow ourselves to BE in the moment that we capture the peace and joy of living.

Practice: Choose at least one activity that you normally do everyday.  It can be anything at all, eating, showering, drinking coffee, exercising, etc.  Whenever you do this activity be present as much as possible.  Start by bringing your attention to your body and senses.  What do you feel physically?  What do you see, smell, and hear?  At the same time be aware of your thoughts.  It’s natural to have thoughts.  The goal isn’t to eliminate them, but to let them pass by like trains in a train station.


Walking:  Be aware of the physical sensations;  Feel your muscles contract as you walk. Feel the heat or cold on your skin. Feel the textures of your clothing.  Be aware of any sounds; listen to the sound of your own breath as it flows in and out.

Eating:  Take time to enjoy the taste and aroma of your food.  Savor each bite as if you never tasted it before.  Pay attention to the texture, the way your tongue moves as you chew.

Really focus on staying present.  When you find your mind drifting to other thoughts, gently pull yourself back into the moment. This exercise will demonstrate just how much you are caught up in your thoughts versus being present.

When we live inside our heads, thinking about being somewhere else, doing something else, or thinking about the past or the future, we are missing out on living. You will enjoy life more if you actually live it as it happens.

Be Happy, my Friends-
Laura Barrette Shannon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Forgiveness Is a One Person Act

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." ~ Lewis Smedes
Who do you need to forgive in order to release yourself from the prison of repetitive emotional pain? How long will you hold onto this pain, like a deluded victim clinging to the knife that stabs them, pretending that you aren't the one holding the knife? Forgiving is a one person act. It never has anything to do with the person we hold resentment or anger toward. It has to do with the attachment to the anger and resentment within ourselves. Release the desire to justify holding onto the emotional pain and it loses its attraction. Then you can see it for what it is, a destructive train of thought. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. It is not condoning whatever actions or words hurt you. It is making a decision not to let the event keep hurting you over and over. It is an act of self healing. By releasing the thoughts of resentment and anger we release our attachment to suffering.
Some people think that you shouldn't forgive someone unless they deserve to be forgiven.  This is not being fair to yourself. You are the one who deserves to be free of this heavy weight.  If you think you need to wait until the other person apologizes or somehow repents, you have given them the power over your suffering. Don't let others control your emotions. You are responsible for how you respond to people and events in life. You are the only one who can end this suffering. You are not doing them a favor by forgiving, you are releasing yourself from the bondage they hold over you. The act of forgiveness releases you from the repetitive thoughts of being a victim.  You may have been a victim once, but until you forgive and let those thoughts of resentment go, you will be a victim of this emotional suffering again and again. 
Once you forgive a person, it does not mean that you should allow the same situation to repeat itself.  Just because you have forgiven something does not mean it is okay to allow it to happen again. Be forgiving in nature but be wise in your decisions to interact with others by not playing a fool.  Forgiving doesn't necessarily mean that the relationship should return to what it was. Sometime it will be even better, sometimes it will change as new boundaries are set, and sometimes it completely ends. No matter how the relationship changes, the important part is that you aren't suffering with anger and resentment anymore.
The act of forgiveness may take time, so be gentle with yourself as you move toward freeing yourself from this dark prison.

Laura Barrette Shannon

Friday, October 21, 2011

Releasing Regrets

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When we hold onto regrets, it hinders our ability to fully enjoy life. It creates a darkness that clouds our inner joy. To truly enjoy life we need to make peace with our past by accepting it for what it was. Release any thoughts about how the past should have been any different than it was. These types of thoughts are pointless and they only serve to disturb your peace of mind. Come to accept that whatever happened is now over now.. To think about how you wish it had been different is riding on a train of thought that leads to emotional suffering. Don't be attached to imaginary past scenarios by rewriting history in your mind. Use your imagination to focus on future dreams, not to torture yourself with thoughts of what should have been or what could have been.
For some people “what could have been” thoughts are the root of personal regret. You may look back and ponder different choices you might have made that would have resulted in different events occurring. As tempting as this negative mind candy can be, we must be aware of how destructive this way of thinking is to our peace of mind. The “could have been” scenarios reinforce the negative emotions about what actually happened. It won't help you get past the regret, it will ignite it with each thought of “if I had only done this”.
Be aware that you made choices in the past that made sense at the time according to knowledge you had and the state of mind you were in at that time.  Forgive yourself for doing the best you could.  That is all anyone ever does.  Don't let the "what ifs" take over your mind and hijack your emotions.  Accept the past for what it was and move forward.
No amount of thinking can change the past, but thinking too much about how you wish it were different will change your present into living hell of regret.

Be Happy, my Friends-
Laura Barrette Shannon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are You Compassionate?


Do you have compassion? Compassion is when we open our hearts to empathize and extend love to others. It may be easy to have compassion on those who you see as suffering from life events or forces outside of themselves, but can you offer compassion for those who are victims of their own choices. Can you have compassion for the homeless crack addict as well as the baby born with health issues? Can you come to a place of compassion for those who are stuck in unawareness, suffering in a living hell of their own doing? If you can have compassion on all who suffer, regardless of the cause of suffering, then this is unconditional compassion. Practice feeling compassion towards those you normally judge as “losers”. The reality is they are suffering because they have lost themselves. Thoughts of judgment only serve to irritate us and reinforce feelings of being better than others. Praying for those who suffer will not only help them, it will enhance your own feelings of serenity.
Be compassionate, and be happy, my Friends-
Laura Barrette Shannon

Friday, October 14, 2011

To Each His Own

A young man in search of wisdom asked, "Please tell me, Grandmother, how can I attain wisdom such as yours,? Which path can I take to follow you?" The wise old Grandmother replied, "Dear child, you can journey to where I am, but you can not follow me. The path to wisdom is a personal journey. There are many different roads to take, and no two are ever the same. You will find many guides and signs leading you along the path to wisdom, but only you can make the choices at each fork in the road.” “But, Grandmother, how will I know which way to go when I reach a fork in the road?” “Dear child, do not fret over which road to choose, all paths eventually lead to the same place. Some may look easier and faster if you are following in someone else's path, but it is when you make your own way, following your own path that you will not only find your way, but you'll have found yourself in the process.”
Resist the urge to think that your way or your path is the right way or only way. Allow others to travel their life journey according to their own heart. By respecting the beliefs and choices of others we have no need to defend our own. It demostrates that we acknowledge that everyone has their own path to forge, including ourselves. When we try to control other people we are taking their personal power away.
Allowing others to walk their own path does not mean we have indulge people caught up in victim mentality. Those are the people who seem to be looking for advice, but actually just want to draw you into their drama. They are looking for sympathy not solutions. Years ago, I used to give advice to others, and when they didn't follow my direction it would cause me to feel frustrated. I was attached to the outcome of how I thought they should act. If we can get to a place where we can offer guidance without attachment, have compassion for those who are still struggling to find themselves, and a let go and let God attitude, then we release ourselves from stressing over other people's lives.
When we constantly seek guidance and approval of our choices we give our personal power away. Seek wise advice as necessary, but always make the choice according to your own heart. Decide if what you are choosing is aligned with who you are. Is it aligned with your values and dreams of the future? Is the choice made out of love or out of fear? These questions will help you evaluate your life decisions. In the end, there really is no wrong choice made with awareness and love. You may decide that after a time you want to make a new choice in another direction. That is fine too, because all paths are tools for self introspection and offer lessons in life. Never regret anything you've done if you have learned an important lesson through the experience. Forgive yourself for being human. We all make choices that in hindsight we would do differently. Yet, we all do the best we can with the level of awareness we have at the time. If you are tolerant of your “mistakes” then you'll be tolerant when others make the same “mistakes.”
Life is a personal journey of self discovery. Allow others to have a chance to find themselves in their own way.
Does it upset you when people close to you don't follow your advice? Practice bringing awareness into the situation. Release your need to control their life choices because you know what is best for them. What is best for them is to figure out what is best for themselves by learning to follow their authentic self. Practice guidance without expectation. Be supportive of your loved ones even when they make choices that are different from what you would do.  
Be happy,my Friends-
Laura Barrette Shannon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Imagine a Second Chance

Imagine yourself many years from now, in the last few minutes of your life....

You are calm and at peace, reflecting on the wonderful life you’ve had, but also keenly aware of things you could have done differently. 

Think about the ordinary moments that you wish you had payed more attention to as they happened.

Recall the people you wish you had shown more love and forgiveness...

Now, imagine that you have a chance to go back to today and live out those years again, with enhanced awareness, with more love and more joy...

Poof! You are here, Now. Be grateful for this second chance. Enjoy your journey, and be happy, my Friends :)
Laura barrette Shannon

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Think Before You Speak

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Watch how you talk about yourself.  When you repeat stories of being a victim, express self effacing comments, or other self limiting statements about your life, you are giving away your personal power and playing the roll of one who is unworthy and unhappy.  If you have nothing nice to say about yourself or your life, then it is better to say nothing at all.  Learn to express your inner light and self worth and you will be amazed at how your moods will be lifted.  Plus, you will be more fun to be around!
Be Happy, my Friends-
Laura Barrette Shannon

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Be Remembered

 People may forget what you say, they might even forget things you do for them, but they will never forget how they feel around you. If you want to make a lasting impression on someone, open your heart, listen to them when they speak, look them in the eyes, give encouragement, and always offer hugs when appropriate. Some people go a whole day or more without experiencing the touch of another human being. Even a pat of the shoulder or back can long be remembered and appreciated. Be generous with your hugs! 
When you offer your attention and warm emotion, you will be remembered.  You will be making others feel like they matter.  This is a key to forming healthy relationships.
Be Happy, my Friends-
Laura Barrette Shannon

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Take the Happiness Challenge!

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THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE: This week, when a stressful situation arises, take a slow deep breath and make an effort to focus your attention on being present. This will give you time to choose to act with awareness instead of reacting to all the little things that happen in a day. Really make an effort to stop complaining out loud. Negative thoughts may still arise in your mind, but if you have eno...ugh awareness to stop those negative thoughts from being spoken, then you are making progress. Eventually, with practice it will become easier and easier to let those negative thoughts flow through your mind before they grab your attention and irritate you.
Don’t judge your efforts. Even if you can not catch yourself before you complain, but do have enough awareness to notice it after you said it, you are making a step toward being a happier person. With enough practice you will begin to raise your level of awareness which will enable you to respond positively instead of negatively to life.
Be Happy, my Friends-
Laura Barrette Shannon