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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!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Excuse to Meditate

Photograph: 'Nature's Art' by P. Grodecki

Recently, several people have asked me about the process of meditation and specifically, how to meditate. Many people hold an image in their minds of a Yogi sitting cross-legged on a mat for what seems like an infinite amount of time. While such an image certainly portrays a more traditional form of meditation, there are myriad other forms of meditation. Each of us needs to find a method that works for us, based on our personalities, time we can dedicate the practice, and our favourite style of meditation. When an artist is fully engaged in his or her work, hours may pass before she may decide to take a break, look around her, and realize that she has been focused only on her painting. Everything around seems to have stopped while she was busy doing what she loves. In reality, the world around the artist continued buzzing with its usual busy excitement as people rushed to get to work in the early morning; traffic outside the artist’s studio may have come to a standstill while the drivers cursed angrily at one another; in the coffee shop around the corner, the hot aromatic liquid was poured into 20 cups every two minutes, satisfying the morning cravings of the customers. None of that matters, because the artist found her inner peace by absorbing her attention fully in her work.


When we engage in an activity about which we are passionate, time seems to fly until we wonder where the day had gone while we may have gone for a long walk along the shoreline, played an instrument, or spent time baking in the kitchen. It may come as a surprise to some readers that these very activities, when performed with great attention, with every moment infused with passion, are meditative activities. Meditation is an activity during which we go inside and get in touch with our spirit. Naturally, a way of getting in touch with our spirit is by doing what we enjoy doing. We find our inner peace as we allow ourselves to focus on one activity and perform the activity with purpose and careful attention, concentrating only on the activity itself. Therefore, we can meditate anywhere and at any time, taking as much time as we can afford to spare.


Next time you wish to take a break and get away from the noise of the bustling city or a hectic office environment, you may choose to take a five to 15 minute break and engage in what you enjoy. Perhaps you find walking to be an excellent meditative exercise that allows you to focus on the present moment and your present state. You may enjoy knitting as a form of meditation, concentrating only on the intricate stitches and the click-clacking sound of the needles. Dancing, jogging, singing, playing an instrument, or visiting an art gallery or a museum and studying the art on display are meditative activities. Whether you have 10 minutes or two hours, you may wish to engage in what you love to do and forget, for that time, about your commitments or things on your ‘to do’ list. I like to think of this as an excuse to meditate. After all, our emotional and spiritual health is just as important as our physical health and naturally contributes to better physical wellness. Just as it is important for us to exercise our bodies to stay physically healthy, it is also important to engage in spiritual and mentally calming activities, for holistic wellbeing.


Affirmation: I make time to meditate while engaging in the activities about which I am passionate.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Celebrating Perfection

Photograph: 'Autumn Harmony' by K. Grodecki



This past weekend, in Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving – a holiday that I truly enjoy because of the colourful autumn weather, the wonderful food that we share with our loved ones, and the company of our favourite people. Every year on the Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend, I make a trip to pick apples and a pumpkin in one of the many beautiful orchards around Toronto. Last Saturday, while looking for the perfect pumpkin to take home, I thought about what makes a pumpkin ‘perfect.’ I was specifically looking for a big, round pumpkin with a rich orange colour, and one that would look interesting when carved on Hallowe’en, with a candle burning inside.



In a field of hundreds of pumpkins, there was one that appealed to me and matched my wishes. I found my perfect pumpkin. But what about the other neighbour pumpkins that were left in the field as I walked away with the one that I chose? Are they less than perfect? And what about the apples left hanging at the very top of the trees in the orchard? They are the last to be picked because they are too high up for most people to reach. And the apples at the top will, most likely, be left there until they fall to the ground. But they are never wasted. The apples that fall to the ground will provide compost that will contribute to the healthy growth of additional ‘perfect’ apples.



Although to many of us it sounds like a cliché, the recognition of perfection depends on our state of mind. Some people are on this earth to contribute to the beauty of the world with centre-stage-worthy talents, while others prefer to work behind the scenes to enhance the atmosphere in the theatre, providing a stunning, comfortable, and enjoyable experience for the audience and the performer. Just as apples and pumpkins need nutrient-rich soil and the support of a strong tree in order to thrive, we also benefit from the support of our family members and loved ones. Even after the harvested fruit had been taken home, it does not perish immediately but continues to maintain its vibrant colours and delicious taste long after it had been picked. And when we, and indeed all living things on Earth, have the support and love of our family members and loved ones, we also hold these gracious gifts in our hearts forever, because those are gifts that no one can ever take away from us. I believe that these gifts of love and support are key ingredients in the recipes that make each of us perfect.



Take a moment to feel the love and support you have all around you right now, and celebrate your perfection. Please remember that regardless of what we may experience at different times in our lives, and regardless of what opinions others may hold of us, as long as we follow our dreams and allow our dreams to manifest, we continue to honour our perfection as we love ourselves and others around us, holding ourselves and everyone and everything around us in high esteem. This Thanksgiving, and all through the autumn season, please remember to enjoy the abundance of the Universe and remember that we are exactly where we are meant to be at this very moment, and that we are always very, very loved. And Love gives us strength, vibrancy, vitality and beauty. So, enjoy those apples and pumpkins, and meditate on the uniting thread that holds us all together, creating beautiful, perfect harmony for which we give thanks.



Affirmation: I celebrate the perfection of the Universe and give thanks for the love and support that are gifted to me, while remembering the perfect harmony that surrounds me every day.




Sunday, October 5, 2008

Lessons of the Mountains


Photograph: `Mysterious Whispers' by P. Grodecki


I believe that everything is interconnected and it is not surprising to me that so many of us strive to maintain our connection with Nature. Nature speaks to us continually, every day, and it is up to us to engage in a dialogue with Nature, or to simply stop and listen. While on my recent trip in Europe, I took the time to listen and learn from the mountains

While travelling in Germany with my husband, we took a day trip to visit Zugspitze, the highest point in the German Alps. While on the bus, passing through the beautiful and serene countryside with its green plains, we sat quietly as we marveled at the overwhelming mountains rising beyond the villages. The beauty of the mountains, with a thin layer of snow visible at the peaks, made the enormous nature-made structures feel comforting, despite their intimidating size.

At times, it may seem to us that various issues that we face in our daily lives may seem overwhelming, overbearing, and stifling. So, too, can the fog and clouds that cover the mountains seem suffocating at times, as they obstruct the mountain peaks. And yet, perhaps we can strive to be like the mountains: serene, present in this moment, confident with our position in the world, finding comfort in the notion that we are always protected and supported, come what may.

Any problem can be measured against ‘the big picture.’ The size and proportions of the issue that we are facing can be regarded from several different perspectives. So, too, can we try to look up at the peak of the mountain while standing on the ground, or enjoy the views below after climbing up to the summit.

And even when looking at the view of the land from the top, we may need to wait for the fog to clear before being able to see the towns and lakes below. It is important to take the time to wait for the right moment to examine the situation from a clear vantage point. Even then, however, we will only see what we are meant and ready to see at this time. It is good to wait for certain secrets to be revealed to us at a time when we are more aware of the truth behind the secret and are ready to understand its meaning.

My husband and I took the cable car to reach the summit of the mountain. The sun was shining brightly and the sky was clear, allowing us to clearly see the lake and farmlands below. We took the opportunity to take many photographs, as we knew that the fog would not linger below. However, even as the fog began to rise, it provided us with a different, more mysterious view of everything around, and, once again, made us wonder about what lies beyond the clearly visible space. And that’s a beautiful gift. After all, the element of mystery is an important ingredient in the recipe for cultivating the zest of life. Don’t you think?

This week, spend some time in Nature and allow all your senses to communicate with all that surrounds you. If you live in an area with mountains, perhaps you can engage in the same dialogue that I shared with the Alps. Similarly, we can learn other valuable lessons from the trees, earth, and the air that we breathe. Allow them to speak to you and meditate on their ‘words.’ Enjoy it! This experience is truly a gift that is given to us naturally, if we choose to accept it graciously.

Affirmation: I listen to the voices of Nature and thus continue my learning experience.

Wishing you a wonderful week, with mysteries to explore and beautiful views to enjoy from a clear vantage point.