Healing Crystals

I grew up always being interested by rocks and stones. I vividly remember swimming in the lake at my cottage, putting on goggles and looking for favourite stones. When I was much younger, a friend of mine showed me her “pretty rock” collection and I was immediately enamoured. I know now that they were crystals, but at the time I had no idea how she found such pretty stones at the bottom of the lake or on the side of the street! Once I found my passion for holistic living and yoga, it was only natural that my childhood love for “pretty rocks” would find me again. Earlier this year, a dear friend of mine gave me a beautiful purple-pink stone and so began my new hobby of finding and collecting meaningful crystals.

Crystals

Crystals

Crystals are used in conjunction or as an alternative to less traditional healing remedies. Crystals can be used for a myriad of different reasons and typically are used as some sort of protection or healing. Shamans, healers, even priests have been known to use crystals for their healing powers. Though there is no science behind crystal healing, those who use crystals believe in their benefits. With the huge uptake in natural and holistic living, many people look to crystals to help live their best life.

Though my collection is newly growing, I thought it may be interesting to share with you what I have in my collection. I believe in cleansing the crystals by smudging them with sage to insure that they are pure and fresh. I like to choose a crystal to take with me when I go about my day and need something extra to get me through. I know that there are people who hesitate to believe in the crystal’s healing properties but I feel more in-tune with myself, those around me and the earth when I’m carrying one.

Jasper (Polychrome), Jade & Calcite (Angel Wing) - Clockwise from top.

Jasper (Polychrome), Jade & Calcite (Angel Wing) – Clockwise from top.

There are many types of Jasper (just as there are many types of other crystals), but Polychrome is used to promote stability and a sense of grounding. Though Polychrome Jasper can ignite passion and vitality, it is also used to balance emotions.

Jade is famous for being a gemstone that brings love, attraction, prosperity and good fortune.

One of my favourites, Angel Wing Calcite is used to promote relaxation and is often used in meditation.

Quartz (Rose), Agate and Lepidolite. (Clockwise from top)

Quartz (Rose), Agate and Lepidolite. (Clockwise from top)

Next are the beautiful purple and pink gemstones.

Rose Quartz is very well known as it is a loving stone. Rose Quartz helps you open up your heart to give and receive love.

Agate is one of my absolute favourites, not only because it is beautiful but because it promotes self-confidence, strength, luck and can protect.

Lepidolite is the beautiful stone gifted to me by my beautiful friend. Lepidolite reduces stress and stabilizes mood swings, making it a great choice if you suffer from anxiety.

Jasper (Rainforest), Tourmaline (Black) and Citrine. (Clockwise from top)

Jasper (Rainforest), Tourmaline (Black) and Citrine. (Clockwise from top)

Rainforest Jasper also pairs well with meditation as it promotes change and progress.

Black Tourmaline is a protective gemstone and will stave off negativity and unhealthy external influences.

Finally, we have bright and sunny Citrine. Citrine brings prosperity, joy and abundance!

Box of Crystals

Box of Crystals

In choosing your crystals it’s best to go with your gut feeling. If you are drawn to a certain gemstone, then go for it! There is a reason it is calling to you! I like to keep mine safe in a small box where I can pick them out on my way out the door, or grab them for meditation; somewhere they feel special and secure. Though you may read that certain crystals do certain things, what is important is your belief in what they do for you, perhaps citrine protects you, that is fine! Enjoy them, they’re yours!

If you would love some more information about these beautiful stones, I have a Pinterest Page all about them!

Do you use crystals? Which gemstones are your favourite and when do you like to use them? Let me know in the comments below!

Namaste.

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Quick Healthy Tip: Morning Meditation

I’ve already talked about one of my favourite Quick Healthy Tips; Morning Yoga! If you have started a morning yoga practice, perhaps it is time to add a regular morning meditation to your daily routine!

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You may know that meditation is incredible for the body; physical, mental and spiritual. Regularly meditating encourages a healthy lifestyle, increases self-awareness, improves sense of self and confidence, lowers high blood pressure, reduces anxiety and increases overall happiness, among countless other benefits. One might think that because of all these incredible health benefits, a regular meditation practice would be difficult to start but it isn’t! I began my meditation practice by carving out the time in my mornings, before the activity of the day could sweep me off my feet and distract me! 5 minutes is all you need! You may think that it will be difficult to meditate and simply do nothing but focus on your breath for 5 minutes will be boring or challenging and that’s why I suggest starting for such a short period of time. Eventually you will be able to work up to 10, 20 maybe even 30 minutes of uninterrupted meditation, but that’s certainly a daunting place to begin! You will find that once you’ve begun practicing daily, you’re 5 minutes of meditation will fly by! You will begin craving that time just for yourself and will find yourself adding a couple more minutes to your meditative practice here and there.

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I added meditation to my morning routine in an effort to make every day start on a positive note. That is why I complete my meditation after at least 10 minutes of morning yoga, and bookend my meditation with a warm mug of lemon water and Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie. I stumbled upon this book after a yoga class, when the instructor read one of Beattie’s daily meditations to close the class. The words were so inspiring and relevant that I immediately ordered the book to include in my morning routine. I include this book in my Quick Healthy Tip because you can use these daily meditations or mantras as something to focus on while you are meditating if you prefer to chant than to focus on your breath. I also strongly believe that starting your day with inspiring words, introspection and physical movement will help you wake up every day on the right side of the bed feeling beautiful, creative and radiant. Your light will shine outwards and warm everyone around you!

Do you take the time to meditate in the morning? Do you have a favourite morning routine that gets you energized and excited for the day ahead?

Namaste.

(Note: I purchased Journey to the Heart with my own money. All thoughts and opinions are my own, I was not asked to or paid to mention this wonderful book!)

Artistic Meditation: Drawing Mandalas

Do you remember being a kid and doodling beautiful circles and shapes in your notebook instead of paying attention in school? Your pictures didn’t have to be perfect (heck, they didn’t have to be pictures!) but there was something healing about drawing those circles and lines, creating beautiful shapes. Those shapes may even have been mandalas and you would be right, they certainly are therapeutic.

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“Mandala” loosely translates to “circle” in Sanskrit. Mandalas can be found in Buddhism and Hinduism where they represent a spiritual and ritualistic symbol of the universe or the cosmos. Mandalas are often drawn acting as a tool in the artist’s spiritual journey or to unite the subconscious with the conscious. It should not be surprising then that drawing mandalas is a form of active artistic meditation. Because of the repetitive nature of drawing a mandala, the process can be quite hypnotic. You can choose to set an intention or mantra before drawing, or just let the mandala take you where you need to go. Though each artist’s mandala will differ in meaning and design, they all share the same general shape, the circle. Because mandalas are circular in structure, they signify balance, unity, harmony and wholeness.

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We already learned that mandalas are used as a tool in our spiritual journey but they are also used for a myriad of different reasons. Mandalas establish a sacred space, when you are focused on drawing your mandala you will feel safe and at peace, this what we consider a “sacred space” somewhere you can come back to again and again when you need to be grounded. Drawing mandalas relieves feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety, fear, sadness and anger; as you are drawing, you will feel any negative energies drift away and will be left with feelings of clarity and peace. As with any type of meditation, drawing mandalas will heal the mind, body and the spirit. You may find new or repressed feelings arise while drawing, this is natural and invited as drawing mandalas gives you the leeway to express any feelings in a safe and positive way.

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How to draw a mandala? Well, there is no right way. Mandalas help encourage creativity! You do not need to be artistic to enjoy drawing mandalas (I certainly am not), just start with a circle and work outwards, drawing any shapes and using any colours that come to mind! If you like a little more guidance use quadrants; divide your paper (or canvas if you choose to paint) into as many or as few sections as you want, draw a circle around the base and work outwards (you can see an example of this in the colourful mandala at the top of the page, or below). Forget the idea of “perfect”, drawing mandalas are all about your needs while you are drawing them. What are you thinking about? What serves you now? Maybe you do not know, take your conscious thought out of it and see how the subconscious drives you!

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Do you draw mandalas? Enjoy the active meditation and feel free to share yours with me, I would love to see them! Or, if you need a little more inspiration, check out my Pinterest page, where I have tons of recipes, yoga routines and yes, a board dedicated to mandalas!

“A mandala is a sacred space, often a circle which reveals some inner truth about you and the world around you.”

Namaste.

Meditation Proclamation!

When my yoga practice became a daily one and restorative yoga became such an important part of my practice, it was only natural for the next step in my routine to be a daily meditation. From the rhythmic breathing through asanas in flow classes to the five minute savasana, yoga and meditation go hand in hand.

I began my daily meditation with the coming of the New Year. Though I practice restorative yoga at least twice a week, I never thought to slow down and meditate… I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it as my mind travels a mile a minute. However, with meditation becoming a booming presence throughout the world and the health benefits showing up in magazines, on television and obviously in the yoga studio, I felt that it was time for me to get into the swing of things.

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As it turns out, meditation isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, I just needed to find my way of meditating. There are numerous different ways of beginning a meditative practice; mindfulness, repeating mantras, focusing on the breath, practicing a body scan or guiding the mind through imagery. Mindfulness is the focus of the mind on the present. Instead of worrying about the past or fretting for the future, you pay attention to the now. Repeating mantras can be done with mala beads (Buddhist/Hindu prayer beads with 108 beads, used to count the number of times the mantra has been repeated) or simply to oneself. Mantras can be whatever you need for the day, you can say “I am strong”, “I am focused” or “I am light” or you can simply chant (“Om/Aum”, or another mantra of your choosing). Focusing on the breath is just as it sounds, you pay attention to the breath entering and leaving the body. Body scans and guided imagery can both be practiced by following a recording (there are many apps, albums and YouTube videos available to help guide you through these meditations) or you can practice by oneself. I practice body scan meditation in a guided restorative class on Saturday mornings, but most of the time I have found that breath focus and mindfulness are the meditative practices that work the best for me! You can test out all these different types of meditation to discover which one(s) work the best for your practice!

The key to beginning a daily meditation is to start small. My personal goal is to be meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes before bed, however that is definitely not where I am starting. I began my meditation with 5 minutes in the morning. That’s it! You can do it too! Afterwards, we build from there. After practicing daily for 5 minutes in the morning, I will work to 5 minutes at night, then to 6 minutes each, 7 minutes… Adding a minute every other week until I have worked up to my goal! It is so simple and not threatening if you break your goal into baby steps!

Another thing to remember when starting a meditative practice is that the mind will wander. While the “goal” of meditation is to be free of thought, do not worry if the mind floats from thought to thought, gently guide it back to the practice that you have chosen and you are succeeding at meditating!

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Once you have decided to bring meditation into your life, it is time to set up your meditative space! As you can see mine is quite simple, a couch cushion on my yoga mat after my morning yoga practice. You do not need anything fancy, though if you feel that you would like something a bit more special, there are numerous websites to purchase beautiful meditation cushions online! Once you have found a quiet place to meditate, you want to sit as comfortably as possible. You can sit on the ground, in a chair, wherever you feel that you will be able to sit calmly for your designated amount of time (it helps to keep a timer so that you are not constantly opening your eyes to check the clock). I choose to sit on the floor in half lotus position with my hands upright on my knees if I need help receiving energy, facing down if I need grounding or upright in a mudra (Buddhist/Hindu ritual gesture of the hands and fingers, common in meditation) if I need something a little bit more that day! Once you are comfortable, sit up straight, gently close your eyes or soften your gaze, unclench your jaw, peel your tongue from the roof of your mouth and focus on your chosen type of meditation. Breathe in and breathe out. Great! You’re meditating!

There are numerous benefits to meditating that range from physical to mental to spiritual to all around lifestyle! Physically, meditation improves heart health (by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease) and benefits immune health. Meditation also works as an anti-inflammatory which in turn decreases tension pain, providing relief for such problems as insomnia, muscle pain and even headaches! A regular meditation practice can soothe chronic problems such as allergies and even asthma by improving air flow into the lungs! By improving blood flow throughout the body and systematically slowing the heart rate and relaxing the nervous system, meditation causes the body to go into further levels of physical (and mental) relaxation, meaning less energy wasted while moving about your day! Less energy wasted means more strength, energy and improved performance in your day-to-day and even your yoga practice! Finally, meditation aids the body physically by coordinating the endocrine system (responsible for hormone control), balancing weight and slowing the aging process!

Though meditation can do a lot for us physically, the mental benefits to meditation are even more fantastic! A continual meditation practice will work wonders against stress! Stress is a monster to the body and mind and meditation both removes stress from the system and prevents it from re-entering. There is a decrease in overall anxiety (including a restless mind and constant worry) when practicing meditation regularly, as meditation lowers levels of blood lactate! Meditation also improves concentration, mental clarity, emotional stability, creativity and overall happiness and sense of well being! Meditation will also help you develop will power (some have used mindful meditation as a way to kick a cigarette addiction!), strengthen your intuition, memory (by fortifying the communication pathways between brain hemispheres), focus, listening skills and even empathy! Meditation can also lessen the need for sleep! Though I strongly believe in the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night, meditation can help you function if you tend to oversleep and has even been shown to help cure insomnia!

Overall, meditation is definitely something phenomenal! There are many improvements that you won’t necessarily be able to “see” but there are so many changes that will be made to your everyday lifestyle! Meditation will help encourage you to make other healthy choices in your life! Meditation will improve your base levels of happiness, increase your self-awareness, tolerance and maturity! You will have a much easier time keeping things in perspective (no more frustrated anger when something doesn’t go your way!). Meditation will help you look inwards, you will feel a sense of one-ness, an understanding of yourself that you perhaps didn’t have before you started a daily meditative practice! You will also have a higher understanding of those around you, you will feel a change in attitude, perhaps a feeling of being enlightened! Meditation unites all parts of oneself, the body, the mind and the spirit just as yoga and moving in the asanas does!

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As you can see, the benefits to developing a daily meditation practice are many and guess what? There are absolutely no side effects! Meditation is free, you need no fancy equipment or things, you just need yourself! There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, there is only your way!

I have fallen in love with meditation as it naturally goes hand-in-hand with my yoga practice. Together, these practices have benefitted my life in a way that I could not explain in one post. I enjoy meditating because it allows me to be mindful in the everyday. When I find myself anxious for the future, or upset about the past I remember to live in the moment. That those moments have either happened, or won’t and that happiness is in the here and now! Yoga and meditation have helped me see my purpose, they have helped me feel a harmony in my life and have greatly improved my self confidence and sense of self!

I greatly encourage you to try meditating if you have not already! You will not regret it!

Namaste.