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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, February 21, 2010

Sending Love


Photograph: “Quiet Reverence” by P. Grodecki



This Week's Quote: “"If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another." ~ Lord Buddha



Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but I hope we all can remember to cultivate and express love – for ourselves, our partners, siblings, parents, friends, and yes, even strangers – every day. This week, I would like to share with you a form of meditation to help us do just that: send out love. I’m reminded of the blog PostSecret, to which people anonymously submit postcards expressing their secrets. What a brilliant way to get something off our chests! With the following form of meditation, I would like to propose that, instead of expressing our secrets and sending them out, we cultivate so much love in our hearts that we simply need to get it – literally – off our chests and out into the world.



Metta, or Loving Kindness meditation, allows us to open the heart charka and learn to love ourselves. In turn, we also allow ourselves to learn to love those we care about and treat them with true kindness. Once we can love ourselves and those dear to us unconditionally, we can then treat all sentient beings with the same reverence and kindness. The following is a version of the meditation that I find works most effectively for me.



Step 1: Begin by sitting down in a comfortable position, eyes comfortably closed, and start to inhale deeply through the nose. Exhale any tension you may feel, and with each exhalation feel your body relax. Continue to do this for as long as you need.



Step 2: Bring your awareness to your heart centre, the area in the middle of your chest. Visualize a beautiful green or pink lotus flower, the petals of which are slowly starting to expand and open. With each inhalation, the lotus flower opens its petals wider and begins to glow with the beautiful gold and white light that surrounds it, until the entire flower is glowing. Focus on the warmth that you feel expanding in the centre of your chest, and concentrate on the feeling of comfort and love that is starting to become cultivated in your body.



Step 3: Feel the warmth from your heart chakra emanating throughout your body, flowing into every cell of your body, all the while visualizing yourself bathed in the same gold and white light that surrounds the lotus flower. Stay here and continue to breathe in this love for as long as you wish.



You may end the meditation here by skipping onto Step 6, or continue onto Step 4.



Step 4: Next, visualize a friend or family member sitting or standing in front of you. For this part of the meditation, choose a person about whom you care and with whom you share a deep connection. If you wish, you may even choose to focus on a beloved family pet. As in Step 3, breathe out love from your heart chakra and visualize the beautiful gold and white light completely surrounding the person in front of you. Continue to send love and compassion to that person, for as long as you wish.



You may end the meditation here by skipping onto Step 6, or continue onto Step 5.



Step 5: Visualize in front of you a person with whom your relationship is strained. As in the previous step, and without thinking about that person’s negative personality traits or what may have transpired between you, send love from your heart chakra to him or her. Continue to send love and kindness to the person in front of you, for as long as you wish.



Step 6: Return your focus back to your heart chakra, the glowing green lotus flower, and with a few deep inhalations and exhalations, come back to the present moment. Take some time to feel the tranquility that you have cultivated during this meditative practice, and enjoy the openness of your heart. Continue to shine this benevolent quality all throughout your day, sending out love to everyone you meet.



Many people find Step 5 of this practice to be challenging. Please practise at your own pace and only advance to this step when you feel ready. It’s of the utmost importance, when practising meditation, to treat ourselves with the same love and kindness we learn to nurture on this journey.



Affirmation: “Today, I treat myself and all sentient beings with love and kindness.”



Wishing you a peaceful week!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cultivating Balance: The Individual Path


Photograph: 'A Moment of Stillness' by P. Grodecki
Quote: “Peace is granted to those who see the same Self in friend and foe alike, whose mind stays balanced in the midst of honor or dishonor, heat or cold, pleasure or pain, and who maintains equanimity during praise and blame.” ~ Bhagavad Gita as quoted in Nischala Joy Devi’s The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras

For those of us embarking on a spiritual quest, one of the most challenging practices can often be to find a balance amidst the rush of our daily lives. We seek to become and remain at perfect peace with ourselves in all situations, whatever may come our way. We want to treat all people, even those who may have hurt us, with the same level of compassion. We may seek to maintain neutral composure regardless of how we may feel, how excited, sad, angry, or happy we may be. In fact, many feel that in order for us to achieve balance in our lives, we need to let go of precisely those qualities that make us human.

Take, for example, a person who wishes to find peace in his life. He creates a situation for himself in which he feel satisfied with his job and his private life. He feels that he can go to work each day and come home to eat dinner, read a book, and retire to bed at the end of the day. He is pleased with this pace. Then comes a time when he realizes that he is bored. He feels something is missing. There is no excitement, no variety in his life. Everything has become a little too neutral. Could we say that this man has truly been able to cultivate balance in his life, if he continues to long for something more?

I feel that, when we seek a sense of balance, we may forget that in this life, we are experiencing a human existence. So, why try to get away from ourselves by stripping ourselves of everything with which we have been gifted? I believe that by giving up everything that makes us happy and living a monastic life, some of us, but not others, can achieve enlightenment. Personally, if I were to give up what makes me most happy in this life, I would not feel at ease with myself. Something would be amiss.

Perhaps this is where the challenge truly lies. Instead of deciding to live an ascetic life, devoid of earthly pleasures, we can work to find a careful balance. For some of us, finding the True Self may be facilitated by consciously discarding the many pleasures that this life has to offer. Others, however, are on a different path. And that is okay. I feel that we would be doing ourselves a disservice by attempting to force ourselves into a place in which we feel miserable, simply because we feel we should be living our lives differently, the way those we look up to may live their own lives.


Does giving up sweets make you happy by eliminating this pleasure that often makes us feel oh-so-guilty, or does it make us long for that taste even more than before? Therein lies the lesson. By gently testing our boundaries and renouncing something, we can try to find a place that makes us feel at peace. Challenges are healthy, but only in so far as we allow ourselves to draw lessons from the challenges. If you are not ready to give up chocolate at this time, by all means continue to enjoy it. However, perhaps you could
eat more mindfully, enjoying smaller portions of your favourite treat and only eating as much as you feel helps to satisfy your craving so you can move on to focus on other matters.

I will end here and leave you to contemplate another quote from a book I’m currently reading, Nischala Joy Devi’s The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras:

Many teachers and translators of the scriptures encourage us to avoid the sweetness in life to better prepare us for the big payoff, enlightenment. It is actually the opposite. By generously sprinkling our lives with joy and sweetness, their seeds take root within us, reflecting in our every action. This ever-present joy is the greatest enlightenment and it can be ours right now!”

Affirmation: “I carefully test the waters of my life to find perfect balance.”


Wishing you a peaceful week! Sat Nam, and Namaste!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Finding Purpose


Photograph: “Blue Beauty” by P. Grodecki

This week's quote: “When you can do anything as though you work at nothing, you have the best days of your life.” ~ Karen Maezen Miller, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood


This week’s post deals with a more practical issue. However, I feel you will agree with me that even the most practical ideas are engrained in spirituality.


Like me, I’m sure you, at least from time to time, complain about another boring task that keeps nagging and about which you procrastinate. There’s that load of laundry that awaits you when you get home tonight; it’s time to do some filing at work; you get the idea. It may be especially difficult to approach these mundane tasks on days when all we wish to do is lounge. On such days, it may seem as though the cycle of work is never-ending and we may ask ourselves, ‘What is all this for?’


When I look back on my day before going to bed, I realize that, as a busy mom, I have spent the majority of the day changing diapers, preparing food, feeding my son, taking care of laundry, and doing what some people may call ‘making a fool of myself’ by playing silly games and using baby-talk. To most people, such a schedule can truly seem lack-lustre in comparison with a more relaxed lifestyle that allows one to come and go whenever one pleases, and do whatever one chooses to do. And yet, I somehow go to sleep perfectly satisfied because I know that I have done my best in my role as I diligently work toward the goal of raising a human being.


And truly, is that not what it’s all about? When we remember the purpose behind our monotonous activities, we also remind ourselves to respect all that we do and thus also respect who we are. No matter what we do for a living, we all deserve the utmost respect for ourselves.


When your full-time job seems to get boring, remind yourself that you were hired for that position because someone deemed you to be the best person to fill that position. When folding laundry gets unbearable, remind yourself of the wonderful smell of fresh linens and the feel of a clean, soft towel on your skin when you come out of a luxurious bath. Try to find purpose in everyday tasks and enjoy them as much as you possibly can. Remember, too, that others are incredibly grateful for all that you do, every day, even if they do not always appear to acknowledge it.


Affirmation: “I enjoy all that I do and all that I am.”


I want to thank you for being who you are and for doing what you do. Namaste!