Category Archives: Meditation

Natural Riches and Wide Open Spaces – South African Thoughts and Memories Part 1

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This past month I was able to visit one of the top places on my bucket list – South Africa! Now 3 weeks is nothing to sniff at for time away but it surely was not nearly enough time to really explore the entire country and its beautiful landscape and beautiful people. Over the next couple of posts under this heading I will do my best to do justice to the country that has captured my heart and is just the nibble of the big continent I intend to discover more of over the next decade! Here are just a small sampling of some of the great Capetown Big 6 – six unforgettable experiences that are a “must do” on any visit to this amazing city and its surrounding areas.

  • Cape Point
  • Constantia Vineyards
  • Kirstenbosch
  • Robben Island
  • Table Mountain Cableway
  • V&A Waterfront

These by no means are the limits of what you should or could see in and around Capetown but it is a fantastic landing pad for lots of interesting day trips but the city itself can take you days to see depending on what you are interested in. A must though of course is Table Mountain! Although it has not been 100% confirmed, it is believed that Table Mountain is at least 6 times older than the Himalayas – originally an island until the sea receded millions of years ago.Glaciers carved its flat surface and then the mountain gradually rose up, thrust up by the tectonic forces . The Cape’s original inhabitants, the Khoi San, named the mountain “Hoerikwaggo” which means “Mountain of the Sea” – when you are there – ask a local to help you pronounce this name properly.

Now no visit to Cape Town is complete without a glimpse of the mountains interesting phenomenon – the famous tablecloth, a meteorological phenomenon that actually causes a cloud cover to tumble down the mountains slopes like a layer of billowing fabric. There are many stories and songs shared about this interesting site and Capetonians will tell you the ins and outs of how to tell what the weather will be like by it as well. There is one story or legend that tells a tale of a retired pirate, Jan Van Hunks, who encountered the devil on the mountain and in order to save his soul, challenged the devil to a smoking contest. Allegedly they stoked their pipes and have been smoking ever since – the table cloth represents this smoke which happens on a daily basis.

Now Table Mountain is many things to many people but to true Capetonians, it remains the spiritual and geological heart of their city.

Did you know that Table Mountain is now one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature? The mountain’s most common animal is the Dassie or Rock Hyrax. Most likely you will see dozens of them sunning themselves on the rocks up top. They look like fat brown rabbits minus the ears.

A Strange but True fact about the Dassie or Rock Hyrax, is that in a twist of nature that is stranger than fiction, its most closest relative is the African Elephant. There is zero resemblance, they are the size of a house cat and ironically they don’t charge!

Cape Point

Constantia Vineyards

Kirstenbosch

Robben Island

Table Mountain Cableway

V&A Waterfront

Take the time to really map out the best choices for your personal interests when you look to plan your trip to South Africa! If you need assistance never be afraid to ask a travel professional like myself.

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Happy LOVE Day!

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Happy LOVE Day!

Like the old saying goes, “Love makes the world go round.”


As you celebrate the love in your life be sure to take the time to celebrate one of the most important relationships in your life – the one with YOURSELF! Due to old ways we have been programmed to think we associate the phrases self-love and self-care with selfishness (I’ve struggled with those myself many times) but in reality it is exactly the opposite. Until we can love, care and appreciate ourselves fully we can’t truly bring those attributes to a relationship.

“You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself
and fully being what you are,  your simple presence can make others happy.”
~ unknown

Take today and the rest of the week to nurture your body, spirit and soul and notice that goodness radiate out to others around you.

On the healthy side: Get heart healthy and cut out some meat. Did you know that by reducing your animal protein intake, you immediately lower your risk for heart disease and reverse some affects of currently blocked arteries!

Stress reduction is the best medicine for an overworked heart and head! Start planning your vacation now and reap the benefits for the next few months. Do you hear those waves lapping up on the shore…feel that sand moving between your toes…how about the sun shining its love down on you?Whether its a full blown retreat or just a quick getaway squeezed into a busy schedule – taking a break is so very needed and well deserved – you work hard so don’t forget to recharge and reward yourself.

So enjoy the day for yourself and while you’re at it pick up your favourite flowers and chocolates, go home, light a candle and wrap yourself in a great big hug or hop online and start doing your travel research!

You deserve it!

“Only from the heart can you touch the sky” ~ Rumi

 

Seven Power Centers – Reflections of your Body and your Life

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The Seven Power Centers

Taking the time to go a little deeper with my yoga & meditation studies as of late – delved into more learning on Chakras and how they can truly identify things during times of stress and challenges. Both of these things come with being a business owner, a parent and most importantly a human being! I share with you a bit of my learning curve and hope that it can give you some clarity the way it has for me!

Using our breathe – we can explore our seven power centers and see how they reflect what is going on in our bodies and our lives. These points of reference our called our Chakras and are also represented by colours similar to those found in rainbows.

Chakras are the psychic energy centers of your body. Yoga practitioners often refer to the chakras as ‘Lotus flowers’ and this is a very good way to visualize your chakras, particularly when opening them up or closing them down. Opening a chakra can be likened to a flower opening up its petals. When closing down the chakras, it’s useful to visualize the chakra as a flower closing its petals so they become tightly shut.

Each of the Seven Major Chakras is associated with a different colour, each one relates to several different parts of the human anatomy. Blockages within a chakra energy flow may lead to an imbalance and to a mental, spiritual or physical disorder in that part corresponding part of the body. Physical, mental or emotional injuries may cause cracks, breaks, shrinkage or deformities in the chakras. Chakra balancing is used to restore balance and harmonize the energy in the chakras. In the art of Crystal Healing, suitable crystals are placed over chakra points. Each chakra is linked to one or more crystals, and most chakras have an element associated with them.

Some brief descriptions of the 7 Chakras:

First Chakra: AKA the Root/Base Chakra. Located at the base of your spine and associated with our sense of security in the world, survival, self-esteem, shelter and food, the material things in life and making money. This is where our emotional and physical stability and balance co-exist. (Body Parts – Spine, Nervous System) COLOUR – RED. Its element is EARTH. Conditions said to be associated with blockages within this chakra are irritable bowels, hemorrhoids, constipation, sciatica, joint stiffness. Crystals associated with Base or Root chakras are ruby, red garnet, smokey quartz and black obsidian.

Second Chakra: AKA the Sexual/Spleen Chakra. Located in the curve of the sacrum and associate with sexuality, sensuality, procreation, passion, emotion and creativity. This is where the energy of our ancestors exists. (Body Parts – Spleen, Digestive organs, Sexual organs) COLOUR – ORANGE. Its element is WATER. Conditions said to be associated with blockages in this chakra are hormonal imbalance, impotence, infertility and fungal infections. Crystals associated with the Navel or Sacral chakras are calcite tiger’s eye and carnelian orange.

Third Chakra: Located in the upper stomach area just below the rib cage, behind your navel and associated with our sense of personal power, the EGO. This is where our energy comes from when we compete, protect, control, transform and make choices. Hence the term – Gut Instinct! (Body Parts – Stomach) COLOUR – YELLOW. Its element is FIRE. Conditions said to be associated with blockages in this chakra are eating disorders, diabetes, stomach disorders, ulcers, indigestion and gastritis. Crystals associated with the Solar Plexus chakra are citrine topaz and golden calcite.

Fourth Chakra: Located in the area of your heart and associated with unconditional love, compassion, joy and unity with all living things. (Body Parts – Lungs, Heart) COLOUR – GREEN. Its element is AIR. Conditions said to be associated with blockages in this chakra are heart and blood pressure problems and allergies. The Heart Chakra is used psychically when undertaking healing, psychometrics or spiritual work that involves compassion. Crystals associated with Heart chakra are rose quartz, kunzite, watermelon, tourmaline, jade, emerald and adventurine.

Fifth Chakra: Located in your throat, this is the Bridge Chakra which allows us to receive nurturance and permits us to express our deepest truths. It is associated with creative energy, communication and self-expression. (Body Parts – Immune System, Hormones) COLOUR BLUE. Its element is a new one called ALCASA (gateway to liberation). Symbol for ALCASA is a triangle inside a circle. Conditions said to be associated with blockages in this chakra are sore throats, laryngitis, tonsillitis and tinnitus. The Throat chakra is used psychically for channeling, inspirational speaking and clairaudience (as ears and throat are connected). Crystals associated with the Throat chakra are aquamarine, sodolite and turquoise.

Sixth Chakra: Located just above and between your eyebrows it is also known as the THIRD EYE and is associated with our intuition, deep wisdom and spirituality. (Body Parts – Pituitary Gland, Mental and Spiritual Processes) COLOUR INDIGO. It has no associated symbol because this chakra transcends all that is physical. It’s linked to the nervous system, the left eye, ear, nose, pituitary gland and lower brain. It can be referred to as our ‘knowing sense’ because it helps us visualize higher concepts. Conditions said to be associated with blockages in this chakra are nightmares, snoring, migraines, dental problems and disturbed sleep. The THIRD EYE chakra is the psychic center responsible for clairvoyance, psychic sight, precognition, dreams and imagination. Crystals associated with the THIRD EYE chakra are lapis lazuli, blue sapphire, blue fluorite.

Seventh Chakra: The final Chakra is also known as the CROWN CHAKRA and is located just above the top of your head. It is thought to be our gateway/connection/access to the Spirit world. It is here that we feel and know that we are ONE with all that is, was and will be. (Body Parts – Top of Head) COLOUR VIOLET. This chakra allows cosmic energy to flow in and through our bodies. It has no element because it’s not earthly. This chakra has a higher vibration which connects us with Spirit and Higher Spiritual aspects. It affects the upper brain and pineal gland. Conditions associated with blockages in this chakra are insomnia, headache, stress, anxiety and fear. Crystals associated with the Crown chakra are amethyst, clear quartz and oregon opal.

Namaste

2012 A Year of Change – Year of the Dragon

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Year of the Dragon

 

 

 

As we headed into 2012, I stopped to take the time to ask a few from the AYA Life Health and Wellness Collective their Top 3 Tips for 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 3’s for 2012 from Amie Hoff, Hoff Fitness and FitKit.com

We caught up with Amie Hoff in New York this past December and here are Amie’s Top 3 suggestions heading into 2012:

http://youtu.be/ugqCLyCCeVg

You can find her at http://www.hofffitness.com/ or http://www.fitkit.com

Try out the many versions of the new FitKit’s! I don’t travel without mine anymore!

Top 3’s for 2012 from Erica Mather, Forrest Yoga Instructor New York City

Here are my Top 3’s suggestions heading into 2012:

  1. Eat more dark, leafy greens – Drink more water – Sleep longer
  2. Be swift to love – Live every day as if it were your last – Work to heal your wounds
  3. Find work you love that is also profitable – Learn how to be an entrepreneur – Prioritize paying off your debt

Erica, E-RYT 200, has been teaching yoga in New York City since 2006. She teaches at the Wanderlust Festival in Kripalu, and will appear during 2012 at the Bali Spirit Festival. Erica studies yoga with Ana Forrest, is a Certified Forrest Yoga Instructor and Forrest Yoga Mentor Teacher. You can find her at http://www.ericamather.com

Top 3’s for 2012 from Michelle Currie, Meditative Arts

http://meditativearts.ca/

Here are my Top 3 suggestions heading into 2012:

  1. Carve out 10 minutes of your schedule each day to be with your breath. This gives your body and mind a chance to refuel and take everything in.
  2. Fill your days with people and things that give you energy. There’s nothing worse than starting the new year off on a sluggish foot.
  3. Remember that you are powerful and creative enough to get through the blahs, especially from January to March when there’s little daylight.

It’s time to put your sanity on a pedestal! It’s being centred and relaxed that will actually help you get more done and help more people. A burnt out and frazzled you only limits your potential. Refuel AND stay sane without spending tons of $ or time ! Try out Michelle’s Bliss Kit  http://meditativearts.ca/shop/blisskit/

ALL THINGS SPA:Recipe – Peppermint & Rosemary Facial Steam

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Peppermint & Rosemary Facial Steam

This herbal steam will open your pores, extract impurities and clear your sinuses. It’s also very helpful for alleviating headaches.

  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 4 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 1 gallon/3.8 litres boiling water

Pour boiling water into a large bowl and let cool slightly before adding the essential oil. Being careful not to burn yourself with the steam, but face over bowl and cover your head with a towel, allowing vapors and steam to accumulate for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Journeys to the Sacred Sites Around The World

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We don’t have to travel around the world to visit sacred sites – we can create them in our own homes but until we are prepared to do so – how about visiting a site that inspires or connects with you.

Ancient stones and Sacred sites

Many ancient sacred sites are on the island of Great Britain and are connected it is said by invisible “ley lines” that carry a mystical energy around the world.  And while their mysterious origins and exact ritual purposes are lost in those mists of time there is no doubt that these sites with their careful construction and astonishing astronomical positioning have been focal points of the sacred to the societies who built them. To be able to witness firsthand, to run your hands over and touch the ancient mystical symbols carved into solid rock gives you a brief powerful ways of the magic crossing the centuries from eons gone past.

Stone circles, crop circles, an ancient burial chambers are part of the spiritual heritage of many countries where strong cultural groups tell the legends and stories of their history.  Let us take the small journey to sacred sites around the world.

There are sacred sites all over the world, each with their own unique structures and legends, where invisible world connects with the mystical.  What stopping you from taking a trip to those you feel most attracted to and connect their magical energy to yours? Here are some examples from around the world but there are so many that this article would be an entire book! (Note to self – new travel book idea!) I invite you to do your own research to determine if you have a connection or need to visit a certain one or a selection of a few. I encourage you to discuss with your yoga/meditation instructors and to check various travel sites to determine the best time to visit based on festivals etc.

Europe Highlights

Stonehenge (England) the most famous stone circle in the world.(see above photo)

Glastonbury (England) this town is no end for its magical energy, and it is overseen by an ancient tor, St.  Michael’s Tower.

Avesbury (England) the second most famous stone circle in the world.

Silbury Hill (England) this 4000 year old giant ceremonial mound rises out of the plains of the English countryside.

Les Eyzies (France) these cave paintings and ancient artifacts date from the time humankind began to express its mystical connection to the world.

Lascaux (France) these splendid cave paintings are possibly the most significant prehistoric expression of the spiritual known to exist.

Newgrange (Ireland) this megalith is an ancient Celtic structure.

Hypogeum (Malta) a 5,000 year old site used by many different cultures for Goddess Worship

The Neolithic Temples of Malta (Malta) Holy sites that are dedicated to the Goddess

The Palace at Knossos (Crete) a spectacular Minoan palace complex honoring Goddess culture

The Temple of Delphi (Greece) Home to the supreme oracle in ancient Mediterranean world and also believed to have been the seat of the Earth Goddess Gaia

Middle East Highlights

Oracle Shrine of Didyma (Turkey) this pre-Greek goddess sanctuary was finished in the 6th century B.C.

Aphrodisias(Turkey) an ancient goddess city that predates Greek culture

Yazilikaya(Turkey) a prehistoric ceremonial sanctuary dates back to 15th to 13th century B.C.

Asia Highlights

Mt. Fuji (Japan) this highest peak in Japan is also said to be the home of a Shinto goddess

Temples of Bali (Bali) Everywhere is sacred as is the splendor of the Balinese temples

Angkor Wat (Cambodia) this is one magnificient 1,000 year old Buddhist city is set deep in the forest

Banaras (India) Goddesses and gods abound here and devout saddus wander the streets in India’s holiest of holy city

Mt. Kaliash (Tibet) acknowledged as “The Center of the Earth” in many traditions, this is home to the Hindu god Shiva and the seat of the sky goddess Sipaimen in Tibet’s pre-Buddhist Bon religion

Australia Highlights

Uluru (Ayers Rock) the colossal outcropping rising out of the earth in the outback of Central Australia that is sacred to the Aboriginal people

Megalithic Stone Alignment (Central Australia) these “stones” are dated between 10-15,000 years old

Lake Narran (Australia) according to an Aboriginal myth, the creation story of the world was imparted to its inhabitants here 10,000 years ago

Africa Highlights

The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx/Giza ( Egypt) the Great Pyramid of Giza was one of the ancient wonders of the world, and even most travelers today would not consider a trip to Egypt complete without seeing the pyramids and the mysterious Sphinx

Luxor ( Upper Egypt) the Temple of Karnak, which was used in ancient times for major religious ceremonies. The temple is known for its massive towers, some of them 70 feet tall.

Binu Shrines of Mali (Mali) these are the sacred mud shrines of the ancient Dogon people, who revere the spirits of their dead ancestors

Tshipise (South Africa) Mapungubwe Ruins, recently declared a World Heritage site as one of 24 new global sites inscribed on Unesco’s World Heritage List. Mapungubwe developed into the largest African kingdom before it was abandoned in the 14th century as the people moved, according to some scientist’s, to establish Great Zimbabwe

Matobo Hills (South Africa) Known as “Amalindidzimu” – the dwelling place of the spirits, it was known by the ancients as the ‘burial place of kings’

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins (South Africa) The Great Zimbabwe Ruins known as the place of the ‘Sun People’ is a mysterious and sacred ancient city. Your journey will take you along the sacred pathway, travelling northward above the great subterranean river known to the ancient African Priests as – ‘Lulungwa Mangakatsi. Of special note is that the Great Zimbabwe Ruins are situated on the sacred Nilotic Meridian (associated with Zep Tepi – the beginning of time on earth) and due north of the birthplace of the White Lions of the Timbavati – the star beasts

The Americas Highlights

Machu Picchu (Peru) a stunning Incan city is set on a remote mountaintop, its mystical significance shrouded in mystery

Chichen Itza (Mexico) this is a sacred center of the Mayan world that has been wonderfully restored

Palenque (Mexico) a magnificent Mayan city in the highland jungle is full of ceremonial sites and ancient temples

Chaco Canyon (New Mexico, USA) the greatest architectural achievement of the northern Native Americans is the site of a great Kiva, which was the circular sacred den of the ancient Anasazi people

Mt. Kilauea (Hawaii, USA) this sacred volcano is said to be where the mountain goddess Pele dwells

Blowing Bubbles – It’s Not Just for Kids

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Blowing Bubbles – It’s Not Just for Kids

We all need to take time out to relax. Whether we simply sit outside in the garden or on our building stoop and close our eyes for 10 minutes, or learn how to relax our bodies so we can release physical tension during the day, or before sleep, learning to appreciate and implement a short, useful relaxation/meditation exercise and incorporating mindful breathing can be very beneficial.

 

 

 

Our Busy Mind – The Worry vs. The Concern
We all go through phases when we have something on our minds, whether it’s a big work project, a decision to be made, illness in the family or anything that can preoccupy us for a time – this is CONCERN. Concern is reasoned and purposeful; it involves a cause and effect mind debate that allows us to seek solutions.


However, when we are experiencing stress, then all the little things can and do become big things. Suddenly your mind is racing, never quiet, and it’s all negative. We begin to worry – about work, deadlines, relationships with staff/bosses, job security, etc. We worry about family and what will happen if I lose my job? What will happen if I/we have to care for a mother/father if they don’t get well? What if something happens to one of the children? This is WORRY and logic is not part of its makeup! Worrying involves wishing that you could change the past (which you can’t), or imagining catastrophe for the future (which may never materialize). You can also waste a lot of time & energy having imaginary conversations with people (what you wish you had said during that argument, what you would say if you got the chance)meanwhile, we are physically tensing up and preventing ourselves from relaxing and being in the moment with family, friends or colleagues. Your mind becomes a washing machine on the spin cycle, with everything jumbled up, spinning round and round, getting more tangled and confused.

Learning to relax can really help with clearing the mind and it’s hard to believe, but we all have the ability to control our thoughts. You don’t have to let your thoughts run wildly away on you, having the ability to stop this confusion & repetition by simply telling your brain that you don’t want to think about it anymore. Learning a relaxation technique, whether it is visualization, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or something as simple as a breathing exercise, will all help to calm your racing mind.

Even Mia Farrow knows how the simplicity of blowing bubbles can transend language and culture barriers in her endeavors.

 

 

 

Relaxation techniques can often focus on breathing exercises. Slow & deep breathing can have an extremely calming effect on the body and this process also encourages you to focus specifically on your breathing so you don’t dwell on other potentially stressful thoughts. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia advocates the use of bubbles to relax children before a medical exam or procedure. If a child is unable to engage in slow deliberate breathing on his/her own, adding a bubble wand to the exercise may offer the stimulation he/she needs to participate. If necessary, turn the bubble blowing into a game to see who can make the largest bubble. This encourages the child to maximize her control over her breath and remain focused on just the bubble, this basic and simple activity may lead to a less stressful health-care experience.

Children and adults alike may enjoy the recreational act of blowing bubbles and bubble wands and solutions are widely available and inexpensive (or a good old solution of water and dish soap). While blowing bubbles is entertaining for many people, it also provides some fantastic health benefits. You will more actively engage your lungs and respiratory muscles when blowing bubbles and this activity naturally stimulates your breathing, which can benefit some health conditions and is known to provide both a psychological & physiological improvement.

Removing That “Stale” Air

When you blow bubbles, your mouth, lips and respiratory muscles engage in a style of breathing called “pursed-lip breathing.” This is characterized by a narrower mouth opening and also resembles the type of breath you use to blow out candles. A “pursed-lip” exhale more thoroughly expels the “stale” air in your lungs, leaving room for fresh inhaled air and better circulation in your respiratory system.

A simple Adult breathing exercise is below:

  • Release Your Thoughts Exercise –
    This simple breathing exercise will help you to re-establish calm breathing. It’s a great “quick-fix” exercise to get you through a stressed moment or an emotional situation.
    Sit or lie in a quiet room with your eyes closed. Visualize your thoughts as a mass of bubbles and exhale slowly through your mouth. As you do this, imagine all those thought bubbles being blown away; you will already begin to feel more relaxed.If there is a specific thought or issue that you cannot stop thinking about, imagine a large bubble blowing up from your head. Visualize a “word” written across the bubble that represents this issue or specific thought. Then imagine taking a huge needle and bursting that bubble and see the “word” melt away in the mist created by the bubble bursting. Imagine yourself saying “I will not waste any more energy thinking about this now, I cannot solve this today. I am putting it aside and allowing myself to relax”.

    So now pay attention to your breathing. Breathe deep, in through your nose in a long, steady breath. Feel your ribcage expanding out on either side, and lifting up – your lungs are two balloons that you are filling with fresh, clean air. Now breathe out slowly and evenly through your mouth, feeling your lungs empty and your ribcage slowly drop.

    Stay clear and focused on your breathing and if your mind wanders, use the bubble bursting visualization and bring your attention back to your breath.

    Stay with this exercise for as long as it is comfortable for you. When you’re confident and able to induce relaxation easily, you will be able to use it anywhere, whenever you might need it.

I took the time today during a stressful afternoon to go outside and breathe deeply while I blew bubbles that the wind carried down my street. With each deep breath, I let go of stressors and wished blessings and support to a dear friend in need after losing a lifetime friend and wished joy for the impending birth of my new nephew soon to arrive. I took the time to listen and watch the joyful reaction of those walking the street below me, wondering where the bubbles were coming from, and to see just how far the wind would carry them.

I closed my eyes and took a breath and blew…and smiled as I realized I had found a place of peace and relaxation once again. All with the simple task of blowing bubbles in the wind – see blowing bubbles is not just for kids.

Namaste