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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Butterfly (1 Minute Story)

artworks-and-beads.blogspot.com
Grandmother sees her little granddaughter crying by the lake.  She says, "Why are you crying, little one?"  The little child cries, "My butterfly flew away.  I loved him so much!  I caught him in this jar, but somehow he got free."  Grandmother took the child in her arms and gave her a big hug. They embraced a minute, and then the child let go.  "How would it be if I hugged you and never let you go?"  "That's silly, Grandma!  I would be stuck to you and wouldn't be able to do anything else."  "That's right, little one.  When we cling to people and things it keeps us stuck.  When we release them, allowing them to fly as they will, it sets US free! From now on, when you see a butterfly, be reminded of this lesson:  Avoid being too attached to things and too clingly to people.  Keep your freedom, my child, and instead of crying, you will be flying!"

When we become too attached to things, it causes suffering when they are gone.  When we can come to an awareness that our attachment is the root of our suffering, we release ourselves.  This is not always easy to do, when the thing lost is an expensive object or a sentimental keepsake.  Enjoy what you have while you have it, and then release it when it's time has come to leave your life.  With the release of the attachment, it frees you.  Let us look at an example.  In 1984, I had made my black belt in Kenpo karate. I prized this achievement and had kept my black belt for many years, with the intention that I would have it forever.  Well, as most things are in life, our time together was limited.  I lost it in a move, never really knowing where it went.  At first this caused me some sadness and self judgement for not having been more careful.  But then I realized, it was releasing me from a past part of my life that had been long over, and was essentially useless, since I never will train again due to physical issues.  As a matter of fact, its presence in my life actually mad me feel a bit sad every time I looked at it, reminding me of what I had lost physically.  So by the mysterious departure of the black belt, I was free of all of it.  It felt good.  I was able to move forward emotionally.

Ask yourself:
  • Have been holding onto something that causes you to feel trapped in the past.  
  • Is there something you are attached to so much that you won't be able to let it go when the time comes?
  • Are you too clingy to the people you love?  Hug them often, but let them go too.
  • Is there something you have lost that still causes you to suffer?  It is time to move forward.  Things fall away to allow us to move forward.

Laura Barrette Shannon

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Do You Play the Game?

(image clemson.edu)

I heard an interesting comment this week.  The person stated that success is having achieved that which you determine to do.  Now, that sounds like a wonderful thing- achieving your goals!  But is it really a definition of success?  For me, success is being who I am. Whether I achieve my goals or not, if I travel life with authenticity, by being the best Laura I can be, I have succeeded.  It's the manner of the journey, not the destination that determines success.  It really doesn't matter if you win or lose, it is how you play the game of life that determines your level of mastery.  

When we define ourselves as unsuccessful, because perhaps we have fallen short of meeting our goals, we invalidate the process we went through working toward the goal.  When you are authentic to yourself, you will choose goals that are in alignment with who you are.  This enables you to create for the experience of creating, not just for the creation at the end.  Many Buddhist monks practice this daily as they create intricate sand designs, each one taking much time and attention.  The end result is a beautiful sand mandala, but each one is slowly blown away  with the wind as the day progresses.  They create not for the sake of the temporary creation.  They create for the opportunity to experience creating.  The fact that their elaborate sand design will only last a few hours reminds them that the focus of life should not be on external  creations, but on inner awareness.  All creations will deteriorate over time.  All experiences will be forever.  This is why living life with awareness, authenticity, and joy is more important than winning or losing.


 I play the game of life with awareness and integrity, therefore I win every day.  How do you play the game?

Laura Barrette Shannon
  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What's Your Input?


(image leggnet.com)


Honestly evaluate what you feed your mind everyday.  Every source of input you allow into your mind will become a seed of thought.  That is how advertising works. They bombard you with the same ads over and over until you are brain washed into buying their product.  Life in general is the same way, filled with sensory input, which when focused on over and over will sway your thoughts which in turn affects your moods.  What you choose to pay attention to feeds your mind.  If you are feeding it an over abundance of pointless drama (reality TV), negativity (gossip), and meaningless distractions (video games) then the result will be a life of drama, negativity, and meaninglessness.  

Be aware that what you watch on TV, what you spend your time talking about, and what types of posts you allow in your Facebook news feed, will have an overall effect on your mental state of mind. If you watch horror TV (too much news, shows with violence) you are filling your mind with images and drama that may come back to haunt you with unhappy trains of thought. If you get involved with gossipy conversations, those drama filled thoughts will be circling around in your head, urging you to share the gossip with others. If your Facebook news feed is filled with people who post negative content on a regular basis, such as complaining about life or other people, this will disturb your peace of mind. 

It is easier to regulate what you are feeding your mind, than to eliminate the unhappy or disturbing thoughts once they have been put in there.

You are in control of what you feed your mind. If you want to be happier and enjoy a life of meaning then begin feeding your spirit with more uplifting input.  Forget reality TV and come back to your own reality.  Take time to see and hear your natural environment.  Pay attention to the people in the room with you. Turn off the TV and computer, make plans with people you enjoy being around, laugh until it hurts your cheeks, and make some happy memories. Start on a diet of positivity and you will see amazing results.

So, what's your input?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tree Meditation



Lay under or sit against a tree. Take your hands and feel the cool grass or Earth beneath you. Imagine the intricate root system of life growing under you. You are lying within the life energy of the tree. Feel the energy. Watch the movement and pay attention to the shadows of the leaves as they move. The tree is alive. Connect with this living system of energy.  When other thoughts come to your mind, let them pass through.  A train of thought without a passenger to pick up will fly right by and not stop.  Refocus on your surroundings.  What do you feel? What do you hear?  What do you smell?  Commune with the movement of the leaves as they dance in music of the wind.  What is the song about?
When we take time to reconnect with nature, we are reconnecting with ourselves.  We are not a part from nature, but a part of nature.  Knowing this, you can come home any time.  Be one with nature and be happy, my friends!
Laura Barrette Shannon

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Feed the Birds



Bird feeding isn't just for children and old people. Take a few minutes to connect with your natural world by feeding the birds. Watch them fly, watch them eat, watch them interact with each other. Connect with them . We get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget that we are part of nature too. We are not separate or above the natural world.  It is us.  When we are constantly disconnected from our natural surroundings it creates disharmony in our spirit.
Being in balance with nature is an integral part of being spiritually and emotionally balanced.  When we spend time feeling the connection it rejuvenates our spirit and relaxes our mind and body.  
If you live near a beach or a park, make an effort to spend some time relaxing there, connecting with the wild life.  If you are lucky enough to have a yard with wildlife, set up a bird feeder or bird bath.  One of my favorite outdoor meditations is to just sit in my own backyard and feel the connection around me.  It draws you mind away from everything else for a little while.  You will feel refreshed and recharged.   And besides being a great outdoor meditation it's a relaxing way to give back to nature. It's cold outside, feed the birds and feed your spirit too!
Laura Barrette Shannon

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What Is Real


(Original art "Breathe" by Laura Crescio
Acrylic on canvas board)
In this world of chaotic change
 I Am at peace. 
Breath of tranquility 
Calms my restless mind.
  Just being Present
 Blocks emotional turmoil,
Reminding me  What is Real.


"What Is Real" from Awakening Perception

The painting above was created by a woman in a Federal Prison Camp in Greenville, Illinois.  Laura Crescio may be surrounded by physical walls, but her mind is free.  The inner expression of life comes out in artistic expression, allowing moments of total clarity and peace.  The painting is aptly named "Breathe", as it is the breath of life which connects us to life.

We must remind ourselves that we always have the ability to reconnect with what is real.  What is real is the life within us, and around us.  The chaos we may feel arises when we are disconnected from ourselves.  We become caught up in our thoughts, stuck inside our heads, not paying attention to our surroundings or our sense of living.  

Take a few minutes to feel the life within you.  Breath deeply and slowly as you inhale the energy of life, and exhale yourself into the world.  You are interconnected with this life force all the time.  We need only take the time to pay attention to it and reap the rewards of coming home to what is real.

Breathe, and be Happy my friends!

Laura Barrette Shannon

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who Do You Choose to Be?


I am now whom I choose to be,
Consciously guiding my destiny.
I once blamed fate for losing my way,
But, actions past formed me today.
I was asleep- slumbering life;
Dreaming daily; Seeding strife.
Now, I pick, plan persist,
Intending to be whom I insist.
Dueling demons; Fighting fear,
Actions my weapons; Thoughts my seer.
I will endure until the end,
Minding each moment that I spend,
Knowing that I'm forever free,
Being now whom I choose to be.

 Choose to Be from "Awakening Perception", 2006 

When we blame other people for our problems and personal issues we become a puppet of life. To be completely free and at peace with yourself and the world, you have to stop pointing the finger away from yourself for being who you are, and the way you act.

Unhappy people tend to blame their parents, boss, past traumas, ex-spouse, or even God for their problems. They prefer to play the victim with "Woe is me" stories, rather than look at their own actions and life choices.  Unhappy people say things like, “I'm this way because of _____.” They place the responsibility of why they are the way they are on other people and situations instead of taking the responsibility themselves. By acting like a puppet of life they release any responsibility of why they act the way they do, and believe that they have no control in who they are. As long as they play the part of the puppet, they are right: They have no control and very little personal power.

To be truly happy, you must take charge of life by accepting that who and what you are today is a direct result of all of the thoughts and actions that you have made in the past, not because of someone else, or something outside of yourself. Everyone has the power to choose to be any way they wish to be. Don't be a victim of life! Once one accepts responsibility for their own life, true change occurs.
  
When I realized that I, alone, was responsible for how I interact with others and respond to life events, it gave me the power to make different choices.  I was no longer a victim of life.  I began to choose to look deeper into myself and to take a hard look at how I interacted in the world.  I discovered my habits based in fear were not working to create the life I desired.  I learned to face my fears and to focus on love, joy, and life's beauty.  In doing so, I chose to be a happy free spirit.  Reclaim your personal power by taking full responsibility for who you are and how you interact with the world. Take responsibility for your life. Cut those puppet strings!

Lesson :

We are responsible for our interactions with people, and our responses to situations in life.

Exercise:

Do you blame others or past situations for your unhappiness? When you blame others it takes the responsibility and control of life away from you. Take your life back. You have full control over who you are and how you choose to be now and in the future. Stop being a victim and take responsibility for yourself. Take control of the wheel and start steering your life in the direction you choose. Take time to really contemplate how much blame vs self responsibility you practice in your life. Be honest with yourself. If you find an issue where you still feel like a victim, repeat these affirmations:

“I am fully responsible for how I interact with others.”

“I am fully responsible for my responses to life situations.”

“I am fully responsible for who I choose to be from this day forward.”