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On Sunday, May 2nd, I will be a part of a Holistic Seminar, hosted by SOL Pilates FIT. Please join me for a chakra clearing meditation. The event will be held at the Extraordinary Beginnings unit at 5261 Hwy 7 in Markham, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. To register call 416.948.SOUL (7685) or email lynne.stewart@solpilatesyoga.com

Do you live in the Greater Toronto Area? Please join me for a
meditation class at SOL Pilates and Yoga Studio in Markham. The class will be held at 7 p.m. on alternate Fridays. Please contact me for additional details.

Do you long for a relaxing treatment for your mind, body and spirit? I'm now accepting clients for Reiki treatments. To register for a class or to book a treatment, please contact me. I look forward to seeing you!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Trusting Our Intuition


Photograph: "A Pair of Cautious Rabbits" by K. Grodecki

Our intuition is a remarkable gift that was bestowed upon us by the Universe at the time of our birth, to connect us with the Source. By listening to our intuition every second of the day and following the Divine Guidance that is transmitted to us through our sixth sense, we are able to connect and remain connected with All There Is. This may not seem to be a simple task; however, as you probably already know, the important lessons in our lives are often not learned through easy assignments. By taking the time, every day, to centre ourselves, shut off our ego, and listen to our inner voice, we honour our spirit and, at the very core of our being, our connection with the Source.


In the modern world, in which people tend to rely heavily on empirical evidence, intuition has taken a backseat. We are taught that we should only believe something after we have seen it; however, if others had not experienced what we had experienced, our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are often dismissed, because they cannot be supported by other people. It is not surprising, then, that the faith of many people in the credibility of our intuition has diminished. However, as the Universe is quickly progressing in a beautiful new direction and we become gradually more aware of something greater than ego-based proof, we start to seek the natural light within ourselves, realizing that from the minute we were born, we were given a gift that can never be taken away from us for as long as the light within us shines. However, it is up to us to develop this gift and cultivate it to the greatest extent.


Have you been ignoring the ‘little voice’ inside you? That ‘little voice’ does not need to remain quiet and small. It can grow if we allow it to grow. That voice has as much power as we allow it to have. Our intuition serves to protect us and help us in all areas of our lives. You may have heard stories told by people who, right before something awful happened to them, heard a voice that may have told them to turn around, to be careful; their intuition may also have given them another warning in the form of a visual sign. This voice speaks to us constantly, as the Universe would never wish for us to be hurt in any way. However, it is up to us to listen and follow the guidance. As the singer Jewel sings, "Follow your heart, your intuition. It will lead you in the right direction."


This week, start each morning with the following affirmation: “I listen to my intuition and trust and follow its guidance. My intuition connects me to All There Is, and I know that the Source speaks to me through my intuition. By trusting the guidance of my intuitive self, I can create countless benefits for myself and help myself in all aspects of my day, every day.”


Throughout the day, when faced with any situation that may arise, sit down comfortably, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, place your right hand on your heart area, and ask yourself, “What does the Universe wish for me to know at this time?” Listen carefully to the answer that you receive. However, please remember that the voice that you may hear will likely not be a loud one and will come from the inside. It may very well sound like a whisper. You also may not hear the voice immediately. Even more so, the answer might not even be audible but may appear in the form of an image or a feeling. What is important is to keep an open mind, remain relaxed, pay attention to our surroundings, our feelings and monitor our thoughts, keeping them positive. Trust the answers that you will receive, without second-guessing yourself.


Animals are excellent role models for people who wish to practise following their intuition. Their natural instincts are their primary and most important guidance. Imagine what would happen if a rabbit, upon hearing a noise in the bush, would not run away but instead, would sit there and wonder, "Perhaps it's nothing. Perhaps I'm just a scared wuss and have nothing to worry about. I might just sit here and wait it out." Such ego-based doubts about our intuition are precisely what would get the rabbit, and us, in trouble. Do you really wish to take such a risk, rather than exercise caution?


The above exercise may not be easy and it may take some time for you to let go of ego-based fear. Please feel free to ask the Universe for strength to trust the guidance that you receive and to assist you as you learn to develop your sixth sense and trust your intuition. With time and consistent practice, this exercise will become increasingly simple, until it no longer feels like an exercise and will start to feel natural. After all, listening to our intuition is natural. It is time for us to acknowledge it as such.


Have a wonderful week! Happy spiritual travels! Namaste!



Monday, May 19, 2008

Being Kind to Ourselves


Photograph: "Quiet Evening" by P. Grodecki

From the time we were children, most of us have been told by our parents and teachers that it is important to put the interests of others before our own. Indeed, selfless people are admired, loved and viewed as an inspiration to others. When we take care of the needs of others, we, in fact, take care of ourselves. By volunteering our free time to help someone in need, we find compassion in ourselves; we rekindle the feeling of joy that may have been extinguished from our lives. And, we also receive back from the Universe what we give. However, it is possible that, when taking care of the needs of others, we often forget about another very important person in each of our lives. When we take good care of ourselves, we empower ourselves to become better caregivers to others.

Indeed, it is virtuous to take care of others and help to ensure that their lives are as comfortable as possible. However, when we spend our time helping others and ignore our own needs and wishes, an unhealthy balance may be created. Many people believe that the gratitude for their work comes in the form of a pay cheque or even a kind word from an employer or a friend who wishes to express appreciation. Nevertheless, for a person who has neglected his or her own needs and wishes long enough and has invested very much energy into helping others, the pay cheque or words of gratitude are often simply not enough.

The belief that we must be selfless to be good is so engrained in many of us, that a sense of fear has been instilled in many people, not allowing them to even entertain the thought of taking time out for themselves, to do something kind for themselves. In fact, such actions are often considered selfish or self-centred, such that when a person who spends all of his or her time doing something for others finally sits down to rest, it is often difficult for him or her to relax because he or she feels guilty for not doing something that ‘should’ be done. When I speak with people who spend their entire days working for someone else, a question I often find myself asking is, “When you take care of everyone else, who takes care of you?” The balance of energy between giving and receiving must be equal for our own wellbeing. A pay cheque or even a ‘thank you’ does not create such a balance.

It is okay to put our own interests first. We can also take care of the needs of others at the right time. When we do not take care of ourselves, the lack of balance is expressed negatively, in the form of anger, worry, helplessness, frustration, and depression. We have been taught, from a young age, to be kind to everyone, which is precisely why it is considered virtuous to take care of others. If I may point out, however, you are also included in the word ‘everyone.’

As tonight is the Full Moon, this is the perfect time to let go of worry and guilt that may be associated with the idea of taking care of our own selves. It is time to become your own best friend.

1) In your journal, make a list of what makes you a great person. Write down everything you love about yourself. This may mean listing accomplishments – however grand or minor – of which you are proud, or perhaps writing down what makes you a good person. Next, write down everything about you that has made you embarrassed, upset, or angry with yourself in the past. Then, write down, “I now forgive and release all the events, feelings, and thoughts that have, in the past, made me feel guilty, angry, or upset with myself. I now affirm that I love myself just as I am today, at this very moment, and always.” Perform this exercise every day.

2) For a minute, try to step outside of yourself and imagine that you are a different person looking at yourself from the side. What do you see that makes you appealing? What is it that you do that makes people love you? This is not an easy exercise; however, the list that you will produce as a result of this engagement will be invaluable in the future, and it is helpful to refer to this list every day, to remind yourself of your importance. Inquiring about what makes you lovable may, in turn, help you to discover or rediscover your own love for yourself.

3) This week, every day, take at least one hour for yourself. This may mean turning off the telephone and the television, putting up a “Do Not Disturb” sign, and doing whatever your soul longs to do. What is a favourite hobby that you have neglected due to a lack of time? This is the time to rediscover it. Among some of the ideas of how to be your own best friend and spend time on your own, I would suggest taking a candle-lit bubble bath, learning to knit or scrapbook, reading a book that makes you feel happy and inspired, going for a walk, and engaging with anything else that makes you happy.

Please remember that you are a beautiful person in every way. Honour and love your beautiful being just as you would honour and love your family members and friends. Perhaps most importantly, please remember that when we take good care of ourselves, we empower ourselves to take better care of others.

Affirmation: “I am my own best friend and I am kind to myself, always. I treat myself with love and kindness, knowing that when I take good care of myself, I can also take better care of others.”


Monday, May 12, 2008

Seeing the World through the Eyes of a Child


Photograph: "The View From Below" by P. Grodecki


You may have heard the advice to never lose the childish enthusiasm that is so valuable and so easily forgotten, often tossed aside along with fairytale books. When was the last time you truly experienced that sense of enthusiasm? As we grow older, the feeling of natural joy can easily become replaced with ‘grown up’ thoughts that may sometimes distort the picture, changing our experience. We need a gentle reminder to allow ourselves to re-discover the natural state of joy, and cherish this state to the best of our ability.


Think back to your childhood and the times when you saw something or someone for the first time, or when you first experienced something new. This may be the time when you first visited the zoo, pet a dog, swam in a lake or the sea, or when you tasted ice cream for the first time. Please try, for just a minute, to remember how you felt through those experiences. Remember the thrill and the joy you felt at tasting or seeing something new. If you, at this time, cannot recall the actual experience, perhaps you can imagine what it may have felt like. Additionally, by watching children on a playground, we may be able to recall many wonderful memories of our own childhood.


Although I would hope that many of us are still enthusiastic about the prospect of swimming in the sea, or eating a wonderful dessert, the sweetness of which fills our entire being with the same soothing taste, many of us simply forget to savour the moment and its spherical beauty that resonates in so many wonderful directions at the same time! Somehow, when life becomes busy and our minds are occupied with thoughts of arriving somewhere on time, preparing for an important meeting, or organizing our day, it is easy to completely dismiss the very important feeling of enthusiasm, allowing it to slip by us swiftly, unnoticed. And it’s not until later, when the worries and stress overwhelm us and we finally take a break, that we realize that simply by holding on to the joy and maintaining a positive point of view, the worries and stress of the everyday routine can actually disappear. After all, our state of mind governs the outcome of the day.


This week, I would like to propose the following exercise:


Set the intention, each morning, of viewing each experience through the eyes of a child. When opening your eyes in the morning, pay attention to everything in the room and feel the joy of waking up to experience another day, with all the wonderful opportunities that it brings (these opportunities include the pleasant times, as well as the more challenging moments). View each day as an exciting adventure on which you are ready to embark.


On your way to work or school, notice ‘ordinary’ details. Take the time to actually savour what is around you, and marvel at the beauty of everything. When eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, or simply having a snack, pretend that you have never tasted food before. Pay attention to the texture, the flavour, the feeling in all parts of your body, as you enjoy the experience of eating.


See each familiar person as someone you have never met before in your life. Notice everything about the individual’s appearance, and find the beauty in the existence of everything and everyone, including your own existence. You may wish to play a game by imagining that you have just a moment ago met your partner or a dear friend, whom you have actually known for a long time. When sitting down to enjoy dinner, pay careful attention to the appearance of your friend or partner, to the sound of his or her voice and laughter, and cherish each moment you spend together.


Finally, when closing your eyes before falling asleep, clear your mind completely of any worries or thoughts about the day that has just passed and plans for the day that is to come. Instead, look forward to the exciting dreams that you are about to experience. Just for fun, count sheep as you drift off to sleep!


Enjoy every single moment and remember that each experience is what you make it. If we look closely, we might find that fairytales are made of the same substance that we all share in our personal lives. Instead of tossing that substance aside, if we invest a bit of extra time in cultivating our imagination, we will find that we are already blessed with magic.


Affirmation: From the moment I open my eyes in the morning until I close my eyes and prepare to rest for the night, I view the entire day through the eyes of a child. I fill my day with a sense of enthusiasm that follows me in everything I do and everywhere I go, reminding me that the gift of joy is always with me.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Embracing the Gift of Challenges

Photograph: "Hearty Dwelling" by P. Grodecki

Recently, someone told me that when asking or praying for strength, we need to be aware that the answer will likely come to us in the form of a challenge that we will be asked to overcome. Though ironic, this answer and the chain of events that follows are very logical. At times, it is true that we may be presented with 'free' gifts. Think, for a minute, about how often we actually acknowledge such gifts and their true value. Most times, we tend to dismiss them as everyday occurrences. It is not until we face challenges that we realize how grateful we ought to be for the times when everything progresses smoothly.


Nevertheless, the
Universe never presents us with challenges that we cannot overcome. In fact, these challenges are gifts, and it is up to us to view them from this, more positive perspective.



If, every time we find ourselves at a crossroads in our lives, we could simply go to a reliable source and ask about how we should act in the particular situation, we would receive a straight-forward answer that instructs us on what to do, we would never have the opportunity to learn precisely why we need to do what we have been told to do. Although at times, it may seem that such clear instructions from an 'oracle' source are what we long to receive, the instructions also do not serve us in any way. It is not until we release worry and allow ourselves to face the situation head-on and decide how to react to it that we begin the continuum of events that will allow us to learn from the exciting and, most likely, turbulent experience. However turbulent the experience may be, it is most important to remember that we will emerge from the whirlwind with a new outlook. Unless we live through such experiences, we would never be able to move toward the destination in which we are, individually, meant to find ourselves at specific times in our lives.

My assignment for you this week is to journal or take some time to think about three relatively major challenges you have faced in your life in the past. Next, consider the personality traits of which you are proud. Did you develop these personality traits as a result of the lessons you were able to learn while working to meet and overcome the challenges? Instead of dreading to think about the difficult times in your life, try to think of them as gifts that the Universe has bestowed upon you, without which you would not be the person you are today.



My hope is that such journaling will allow you to embrace the gifts of challenges in your life and that next time, when facing a seemingly difficult situation, you can meet it with confidence and know that, as difficult as the situation may be, you will emerge from the darker times with acquired wisdom, strength, confidence, and compassion toward yourself and others. It is not surprising, then, that when we pray for strength, the Universe provides us with a challenge. If we expand our points of view and open our minds to the vast possibilities and blessings in our lives, we will soon see that much depends on our perception. We can either choose to fear the more difficult situations in our lives, or we can embrace them, knowing that we are facing the situation in order to discover and uncover our personal strength, which is already within us. Our strength will be further revealed to us when we make a decision to accept all situations in our lives through a perception of Love, rather than fear.



Affirmation: I embrace, with Love, all situations in my life. I gain knowledge, wisdom, strength, confidence, and compassion from every experience in my life. I acknowledge the seemingly challenging situations in my life as gifts bestowed upon me by the Universe, and I accept these gifts graciously.