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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where Are You Going in 2012

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." ~ Lao Tsu



As the new year approaches, I am reminded to be grateful for this wondrous opportunity ahead. They say, ”Life is for the living”. I would like to improve that concept and say, “Life is for lucid living”. Each year I reflectively review my life. I evaluate what is working, what needs changing, what needs eliminating, and things I haven’t experienced on my bucket list. Then, I start a personal vision statement for the coming year. This is basically an updated vision of my personal expression and dream of life. 

Starting my vision statement , I like to evaluate a number of different aspects of life and set the tone for the next year. These areas of life are: physical well being, emotional well being, spiritual practices, financial growth, relationships, creative endeavors, and life experiences. As I create my vision for the future I write everything down and use the magic words “I AM” at the beginning of each statement. By using I AM you are generating an energy of already being there, not the energy of wanting, or trying, but being that which you envision. This has worked well for me every time I use it.


 Examples: 


 I AM eating food that is good for my body and limiting my junk food intake.

I AM learning Tai Chi.

I Am experiencing a respectful and loving relationship with my spouse. 

The magic of "I AM" sets intent in motion and really sets the stage for experiencing the energy of the goal from a standpoint of it already being manifest. If you can hold this point of view with intense feelings of loving passion and joy you will have the key to creating your dream of life. Using the “I AM” along with continuing to passionately focus on my vision throughout the year ,(I put it where I will see it everyday and take a few moments to vision), leads to opportunities for manifestation. By focusing my attention on where I am going and what I will experience, doors of opportunity will suddenly appear and I will naturally plan and take steps toward these opportunities. 

I will also naturally make choices that are in alignment with my vision. For example, if my vision is better health, I will start eating better or joining a sport. If it is financial growth I will continually be open to opportunities and take appropriate action to reach the goal. If it is experiencing a stronger relationship with another person then I will schedule time to connect with this individual and work on unconditional acceptance of this person.

 For each vision you hold, there will be action steps to take throughout the year. Each step you take will align you with your vision more and more. Some visions will be easily manifested in few steps. Others will take many small steps and more time than one year. Either way, you are moving along in life with lucidity, not being pushed through life asleep and lost. So, I ask you, “Where are you going in 2012?” It is your choice.

Monday, December 26, 2011

You Never Have to Do Anything


Do you feel that there isn't enough free time in the day to do everything you'd like to do? Realize that everything you do is exactly what you have chosen to do, and therefore you should do it with all your heart. There is no "free" time, just time. You can either spend it in joyful awareness, or spend it wishing you were doing something else, building feelings of resentment. It's a matter of committing yourself to whatever you are doing at the time. Either do it with joy, or don't do it.

I used to resent doing housework, especially washing the floors.  Then I realized that I choose to do it, no one is forcing me to wash floors.  I choose it because I want clean floors.  Why should I resent doing something that I choose to do? Now I put the radio on and practice singing while washing.  It becomes a joyful chore.

I often hear people complain about having to take care of their parents, grandparents or children's needs.  "I have to take Johnny to karate and then help him with homework, I have no time for myself."  Well, actually, the time you have with Joey in the car is time for building your relationship.  The time you are waiting for his karate lesson is time you could be reading, meditating, or catching up on phone calls.  The time you are helping with homework, you are fostering a better understanding of your child and nurturing his academic growth.  What part of these examples is wasted time?  All of it, if you are doing it with resentment in your heart.   

Lesson:

You never have to do anything. What you do with your time is your choice.

Exercise:

Be free to experience your time with awareness and joy.  Don't be a victim of your ego mind telling you that you could be doing something else instead.  These types of thoughts create unease and stress. Realize that you are free to spend your time however you choose.  Time is always free, are you?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Happiness Recipe

Holiday Happiness Recipe

Ingredients:  Spirit, Family, Friends, Presence

The key to making Happy Holidays is to remember the meaning behind the Holidays is based in spiritual traditions.  The purpose of all the Holidays this season is to honor and celebrate Spirit.  If we look at the word Holiday it is a combination of Holy and day, thus a Holiday is a Holy day by definition.  So the main ingredient in our recipe for happy Holidays is to remember why we are celebrating in the first place. Take time to ponder the spiritual significance of your faith as you perform the various rituals of the Holy day.  In addition to any customary practices of the Holiday, you may wish to incorporate some personal reflection time, where you can relax as well as renew your spirit.  Try this simple fire meditation:


Light the Fire Within:

Oh, Lord, we honor thee, With fire burning bright Reflecting the warm delight In our hearts tonight.
Tonight, light a candle or sit by an open fire, and take a few minutes to connect with Spirit. Concentrate on the flickering of the flames, as you gently release the outside world.  Breath deeply and slowly, allowing all thoughts to flow by without attachment.  Relax into the light.  Feel the love of Spirit in the warmth.  Relax and rejuvenate your soul. ♥ ♥ ♥
The next ingredient in our Happy Holidays is to mix together family, friends, and presence.  Of all the holidays past, what I remember most is the warmth and love I felt at the many family feasts and friendly gatherings. I remember not the physical presents, but the physical presence of those I loved and those who loved me.  It is not the temporary toy or gift certificate that you will recall many years later.  You will remember the love, the acceptance, the laughter, and the joy of being together.  Give the gift of presence and you give the gift of loving memories for a lifetime.
My friends, make the Holidays Happy,  
many blessings~
Laura

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Power of Silence



In Eastern cultures it is a natural part of growing up.  Their children are taught, and regularly practice meditation to calm the soul and connect with spirit.  They understand the value and necessity of silencing the body and mind for mental health.  The importance of balance is well understood and actively practiced.  

Silence is music to the soul.   Our culture, especially this time of year, bombards us with audio and visual stimuli and the stress of over scheduled agendas.  Too much physical and mental activity drowns out our still small voice of intuition, disconnecting us from Spirit.  Take a few minutes every day to just BE. In the sounds of silence you will feel the calming stillness of inner peace.  

Silence...


quietly sings

breathes peace

frees thought

brings release



Silence...


connects one

to the source

allows unity

guides course


Silence...


relaxes mind

clears chatter

relieves worry

so fears shatter


Silence...


charges soul

renews self

taps knowledge

of innate wealth

(From Awakening Perception, 2006)

Exercise:

Sit or lay still, relaxing your body.  Breath deeply and slowly.  Concentrate on your breath as it fills your body with oxygenating life force.  Feel the stress leaving your body as you exhale.  You can do this simple stress relieving exercise any time you feel overwhelmed, or just want to reconnect with Spirit.  Even just a few minutes will help regain emotional and spiritual balance.  Start practicing this simple meditation every day and you will begin to embrace silence as your sanctuary.




Friday, December 16, 2011

How Compassionate Are You?


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 poor 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.

Unconditional compassion is non judgmental. It comes from a fully open heart. The more open your heart is, the more love you will be able to give and the more love you will be able to feel. A heart with conditional compassion is limited in its ability to fully feel love. The heart becomes blocked. The blockages in a heart are a result of the ego mind pushing for separation from others and spirit. The ego has to justify its existence through thoughts of self righteousness and a “I'm better than you” attitude. These type of trains of thought lead to justification of conditional compassion, which in turn limits our expression of love.

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 and begin to clear away any blockages in your heart. An open heart is able to freely express love to others and feel the immense joy of receiving love.

Lesson:

Practicing unconditional compassion opens your heart, which enables you to fully express and feel love.

Exercise:

Become aware of any instances where you are reluctant to feel compassion for someone who is suffering, regardless of the cause of the suffering. When you find yourself resisting real compassion, say a prayer for them. Pray that their suffering will soon be over. Pray for your heart to open wider and to have compassion on all beings.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Scheduling Life Outside Your Head



Let’s discuss the future. The future is not Now, yet on a practical level it deserves some consideration in the Now. It’s not necessary to dwell on tomorrow too much, but you do need to have some sort of clue as to what you are doing today, next week, and next year.

Planning for the future, scheduling small tasks, appointments, and goals is an important part of being a functional adult. Especially in today’s society, it has become necessary to organized and prioritize life at least to some extent. There’s nothing wrong with planning. Planning has its purpose.

Thinking about the future is part of being a human being. The problem for unhappy people is too much thinking about the future in negative ways. When you worry about what may happen later today, tomorrow, and next year you are focusing on all the “bad” things that may possibly occur. Most of the time these scenarios never play out. By worrying, unhappy people occupy their minds with negative thoughts which creates anxiety. They worry about every little thing, making themselves a nervous wreck.

Worrying about the future is just as unproductive as dwelling on the past. There’s nothing you can do about the past, it was as it was. In the same way, the future will unfold as it will, with or without your worrying.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan and be prepared for life. Be proactive, do what you can to anticipate life and drive yourself toward your dreams. But, let go of those thoughts that needlessly focus on undesired outcomes. When you worry, you are preoccupying your mind with thoughts that generate anxiety, which results in stress. If you find yourself worrying, gently bring yourself into the present. Evaluate the concern you were thinking about and decide if there is something that you can do to prevent the undesired outcome. If you can be proactive,do it! And then let the situation go. Don’t allow the worrying thoughts to take over your mind and hijack your emotions.

Since we live in a busy world, there is usually numerous activities that need to be scheduled in the near future. Set aside time to prioritize and schedule your life. It probably won’t take more than 15 minutes of your day. You can use this time to do all the thinking and planning for the day. Once this is accomplished it will be easier to push the worrying aside.

Many people find it helpful to address their agenda for the following day before they go to bed. If you have a clear picture of what your schedule will be tomorrow, you will sleep better. There will be no reason to lie awake worrying or even just thinking about all the tasks that need to get done. Do not attempt to keep your entire life scheduled in your head. Use a calender, appointment book, or a PDA. Once you write it down you will be able to let the thoughts go. There will be no reason to think about it any more. The important tasks will be scheduled and you will think about them when the time comes.


Lesson:

Too much time spent on thinking about the future will result in needless worrying. Schedule your life outside of your head.

Exercise:

It’s time to stop worrying and over thinking about everything you need to do. This week start using an appointment book or other form of agenda. Take a few minutes before bed to look over the next day so you know what the plans are when you wake up. Then have a restful night.

If you catch yourself worrying, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Take a deep breath. Evaluate the worry. Is it something you can take action to prevent? If so, then do it. If not, then it's time to let the thoughts flow through and out of your mind. Keep your attention on the Now. Enjoy your time without worry.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Be With Nature



As I lay in the hammock in my backyard, a big yellow butterfly passes by, capturing my attention. I am immediately transported to a world of floral delight, fluttering from flower to flower. I feel the wind blow and begin losing myself in the movement of the leaves mixed with shadows in the tree above me. After a few minutes I gaze through an opening in the tree canopy and concentrate on the passing clouds, each animated shape becoming alive before it dissolves into the blue background. A mocking bird calls me back to Earth and then the melodic sound of the waterfall entrances me with its gentle rumble.

Take time to be with nature, time to be one with nature. The above backyard meditation is easy to do. Just sit quietly and observe your surroundings without commentary. Use your senses and explore the wonders of the natural world.

The ocean is my sanctuary,
Where I return like rivers and rain,
Reminding me of the greater whole,
from whence my soul once came.


No matter how far mankind has tried to distance himself from nature, the fact remains that humans are a part of nature. We live in a time where people have learned to spend most of their day disconnected from Mother nature. In the modern world, we spend time in a variety of boxes that separate us from our natural surroundings. There is the house where you live, perhaps spending half your day or more inside this domestic box. There may be the building where you work, and some of you even have a little office or a cubicle box. There are the mobile boxes such as cars, buses, and trains. We spend our time moving from one box to another, keeping ourselves as far away from nature as our money can buy.

Watching nature is viewed from television sets and computers. The art of sitting outside, relaxing, and just being with nature is becoming uncommon. The electronic age has taken over our minds, luring us to spend countless hours watching TV, connected to the Internet, and glued to our cell phones waiting for the next text message or tweet. Our minds are being hooked by audio visual electronic stimuli to the point where we have tuned out what we feel with our body and the smell and taste of our food because we aren't paying attention. We are forgetting the purpose of having a physical body is so that we can experience the world through our senses.

Not all of you are caught up in your boxes, but most unhappy people have this in common. If you are one of those people, get out of your box! By getting fresh air and sunshine you will give yourself a boost of happiness. Take a short walk, read outside, go for a hike, go fishing, camping, biking, or just sit quietly outside taking in the sights and sounds. You will begin to reconnect with the natural world. You'll begin to notice your habitat and surroundings. You'll become aware of and even stop to watch birds and butterflies. The more you can incorporate being outside in nature, the bigger the emotional reward will be.

Besides the relaxing benefits of reconnecting with nature, the human body benefits from sunlight itself. The amount of sunlight we receive affects our levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is absorbed through exposure to sunlight. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D may cause some people to feel symptoms of depression. So sunshine can actually brighten your day emotionally! Take a few minutes every day to bask in the sunlight and renew your spirit

When we take time to connect with nature we recharge our spirits and relax our minds. Being outside encourages us to use our senses as they were meant to be used: experiencing our surroundings. We give ourselves the opportunity to feel the sunlight, rain, and wind. We can experience the sweet sound of bird songs and be a witness the miracle of flight. We can dig our toes in the sand at the beach, or smell the freshness of damp grass on a summer morning. Being with nature allows us to be present, which reduces stress and rejuvenates the soul. Increase your awareness of your surroundings and you may be surprised how much it enhances your life.


Lesson #26:

Being with nature encourages presence, which reduces stress and rejuvenates the soul.

Exercise:

Spend some time everyday outside. Incorporate outdoor activities as much as possible. Practice being with nature. Learn to hear the sounds, distinguish the scents, and appreciate the sights of the the natural world. If you find thoughts of the past or the future coming to mind, refocus on your surroundings. This exercise helps train your ability to focus and to be present while rejuvenating yourself at the same time.

Simple outdoor meditations:

  • Sit quietly, close your eyes, and listen to as many distinct sounds you can sense.
  • Watch the movement and pay attention to the shadows of the leaves in a tree.
  • Close your eyes and see how many distinct scents you can sense.
  • Sky watch. Gaze at the clouds or the stars.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Awaken Your Inner Child



When we were children we were free. We lived in the moment, focusing on just being a child. If you are in my generation or older, then you probably were never bored. This seems to be a new phenomenon among our youth in the last twenty years or so. No, when I was young I was never bored. I played outside, with or without toys, with or without friends. Whatever I was doing was all that mattered at the time.

As we get older we lose that feeling of freedom to be only in the moment. We become slaves to our wondering mind, often thinking about the past or the future, and not really living in the moment. We become absent in our own lives. The body breathes, walks, performs actions, but the mind is somewhere else. When we consciously bring our attention to the present moment, we become like little children again. We enjoy our life with more vigor. We begin to be present in our own life.

When you are free like a child you naturally express your innate creativity and wonder. Children use their imaginations, opening their world to endless possibilities. They are naturally inquisitive, creative, playful, and willing to explore their world. It's time to live like a child again. When you become present you will pay more attention to your surroundings. You will notice the flowers as you walk into the bank, you will notice the stars at night and maybe take time to watch the sunset. You will have more time to pursue creative activities and more time to play. How can you have more time? Remember how long summer vacations used to seem when you were young? The more present you are the slower time seems to flow. When you aren't stuck inside your head and are actually present, time seems to expand.

Practice being present and you will begin to awaken the little child inside of you. Everything will become more fun. Your inner child will want to play because children love to play. They enjoy being outside in nature, looking at clouds, even playing in the rain! Your inner child might want to try new things, play games, redecorate a room, or make the food on the dinner plate look pretty. Be present and you will feel an urge to express new wonder, playfulness, and creativity.

Lesson :
Reconnecting with your inner child makes life more fun and expands time.

Exercise:

Practice bringing child like awareness into something that you normally do without awareness. It could be as simple as taking a walk.. If you normally are caught up in thoughts while walking, switch your awareness to your surroundings. Take a new route. Make a game out of it. How many animals can you see along the way? How many distinct sounds are around you? Does one street smell different than another street? If you were blind folded would you be able to know which street you were on?

Or maybe awaken your inner child while making dinner. Instead of being caught up in thoughts about the past or future, pay attention to what you are doing. Make a new recipe, or use your creativity in presentation and table setting design. Practice feeling the textures of the different foods as you prepare them. Take a moment to smell them. Be present and the experience will be totally different than mindlessly making dinner while listening to TV.

Practice reconnecting with your inner child and life will be fuller and more fun.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Beware of the Green Eyed Monster




Jealous trains of thought lead directly to discontent, hatred, and insecurity.  When we allow ourselves to indulge in these type of thoughts we are weakening our sense of self worth.  There will always be someone better off than you are in good fortune, financial status, physical appearance, intelligence, or some other trait that you wish you had.  This recognition of the fact that people are different, that everyone has their own set of strong points will cause jealousy or envy if you don't balance the recognition that everyone also has their challenges, weaknesses, and personal demons too.  The next time you find yourself wishing you were someone else, or could experience their most desirable trait, remind yourself that no one is perfect.  The grass isn't greener in their life, unless you are overlooking their weeds.  

A healthier way to think about the traits we desire in others is to make a point to work on those traits ourselves, to let them be an inspiration for personal growth.  Let your envy turn into admiration.  

Be happy, my Friends,
Laura barrette Shannon