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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!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Mindfulness


Photograph: “Feast of Life” by P. Grodecki


This Week's Quote: “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh


For those of us in the northern hemisphere, and especially in places where the climate is on the cooler side, spring – literally – brings with it a breath of fresh air. What a pleasure, to be able to open the windows in the morning and hear the cheerful chirping of the chickadees on the trees, to go for a walk without needing to wear a winter jacket! And of course, the brilliant sunshine and longer days help us to feel an extra boost of energy.



The Spring Equinox marks a shift toward an attitude of freshness and novelty, often inspiring us to contemplate new beginnings. We may start to think of new outdoor activities we wish to try as the temperatures rise. Instead of comfortably staying indoors, we suddenly begin to find motives to head outside and do just about anything. We grill our food on the barbecue on the deck, enjoy dining on the patio, take our cardio workout to the park after resolving to give the treadmill a break, and find any excuse to linger outdoors for just a while longer. Listening to our bodies, we may begin to eat lighter meals with fresh vegetables. After all, the hearty soups and stews of many a cold winter evening may simply seem a little too comfortable when all we want to do is shed an extra layer.



And what are these extra layers that we strive to shed? Perhaps it’s time to do some purging and rid our lives of old baggage. This baggage could be in the form of old clothing that we haven’t worn in a few years, or – and perhaps more commonly – emotional habits that no longer serve us. Since spring is a time of freshness, new beginnings and wonderful opportunities, it’s a great time to re-evaluate our attitudes toward ourselves and the world around us and fine-tune our self-worth, raising it up a notch and thus allowing ourselves to revere in the beauty that is our being, as well as the beauty that surrounds us every day.



This week, I invite you to spend some time in meditation and journaling. Find a quiet place in which you can sit still, in a comfortable position, taking deep, nasal breaths, allowing your abdomen to expand. Invite yourself to be open to this meditative exercise and its outcomes. After some time, begin to reflect on the physical, mental, and emotional changes that are taking place around you and within you, and make a mental note of anything you notice. Next, ask your True Self about the positive changes that you could make in your life. Again, these changes could relate to your physical, mental or emotional well-being and could occur on a small or larger scale. The final step is to ask your True Self about what actions you may take in order to allow yourself to implement these positive changes in your life in the most effective way. Try to go with the flow of the information you receive and remain open, instead of actively thinking and contemplating. Once you feel you have received your answers, take some time to come back to the present moment by moving your fingers and toes, stretching, and finally opening your eyes.


In your journal record your meditative experience. Write down the changes that you feel have taken place or are currently taking place within you and around you, and then make note of what action you can take, in your life, to improve one or more aspects of your life. Finally, record the actions that you will take to make the implementation of these positive changes in your life as smooth as possible.


Affirmation
: “I welcome the season of spring into my life, with all the beautiful bounty it has to offer.”



Best wishes!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Karma: What is It, Anyway?


Photograph: “A Closer Look Within” by P. Grodecki

This Week's Quote: “Electricity, like karma, is neither good nor bad; its effect is determined by how we treat it.” ~ N. J. Devi, The Secret Power of Yoga


We may often catch ourselves saying – and hearing others say – that a certain action brings good or bad karma. Many of us may believe that when we perform negative actions, they will come to haunt us in the future, as a form of payback. But what, exactly, is the meaning of karma?


Karma is intricately intertwined through our lifetimes and the lifetimes of those around us with whom we associate. I have found Nischala Joy Devi’s explanation of karma, in her book The Secret Power of Yoga, to be most logical. She explains that karma is dormant, potential energy that, when stirred, creates an after-effect. Our actions stir this potential energy, thus setting the wheels in motion. The potential of karma can either be beneficial or detrimental and it is up to us to choose wisely which action we should take. To make the matter a bit more complicated, karma also follows us from our past lives and the life we live now is determined on the basis of our past actions, which we may or may not recall. Of course, we cannot change what we may or may not have done in the past, but we can improve our judgment and act with care in this lifetime. Moreover, our family members, friends and loved ones affect our lives with their own karma, thus allowing our karma to be intertwined with theirs.


Having provided this explanation, I suspect you might wonder what comes next. What shall we do with this information? We could spend our time worrying about how our every action will influence our future and the future of those around us, but I suspect that the action of spending our time in a state of worry would only contribute negatively to our future. Instead, the goal of karma yoga is to transform our karma in order to open our hearts and give birth to beauty and love through selfless service, thus positively affecting our karma and the karma of those who benefit from our actions.


We may begin to practise selfless service by paying close attention to the needs of those around us and allowing our hearts to lead us toward the right answer. This week, I encourage you to begin thinking about how we can best benefit our community or another community that is in need of assistance – either financial assistance or assistance in the form of time that we can volunteer to dedicate to a helpful task. Likewise, please remember to also take some time, everyday, to engage in an activity that brings joy to your soul.


Affirmation: “I dedicate my time to selfless service to help others and to enrich my own life.”


Wishing you a happy week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Self-Acceptance: Loving Ourselves


Photograph: “Passion Play” by P. Grodecki

This Week's Quote: “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them” ~ Albert Einstein


“So, is he a good baby?” asked another mother, whose baby is a week older than my son, at a playgroup. I answered that my son indeed is a good baby, and she then proceeded to tell me about her son’s excellent temperament and how well he sleeps at night. There we were, two proud moms chatting cheerfully while our little guys played beside us, chewing away at colourful plastic objects in an attempt to massage their aching gums. We each may have had a challenging night due to fussiness brought on by teething, but that small inconvenience was long forgotten as we were busy adoring our little angels.


Every mother takes great pride in her child and the truly unconditional love of a mother is inspiring. While many of us would do anything for our children, however, we neglect to take good care of ourselves. Moreover, we may often criticize ourselves for the way we look and chastise ourselves for not being good enough. This applies not only to mothers but to all women and men. We all are capable of succumbing to the monster that is self-criticism.


An office worker may find himself, night after night, eating fast food for supper and staying at the office until well past 5 o’clock in order to finish a project to which he has been assigned. After coming home late and sleeping five hours at night, he rushes out the door in the morning without having taken the time to enjoy breakfast, just to repeat the cycle again the next day. We may find ourselves working diligently for others – be it for the boss, a partner, or one’s children – and although we may enjoy our work, we often neglect to take care of ourselves. We may, in fact, begin to feel that the work we do isn’t good enough and begin to push ourselves to the edge.


What if, for a moment, we stop our usual pace and imagine ourselves as children? We may not seem wonderful in the eyes of a stranger who witnesses our cranky meltdown, but to the child’s mother, who knows that her little girl is fussy because she missed her afternoon nap, her daughter is perfect and is simply having ‘one of those days.’ This week, treat yourself as a caring mother would treat her child. Take time to listen to your intuition about what you need, instead of what someone else wants of you, and follow your inner voice. Allow yourselves to make mistakes and acknowledge your positive and negative emotions, all the while celebrating you for who you are.


And remember: you are doing a wonderful job, so be sure to take excellent care of yourself. I firmly believe that when we take good care of ourselves, we empower ourselves to take better care of our loved ones and set an example for others to do the same.


Affirmation
: “I love and accept myself unconditionally.”



Wishing you a peaceful week!