Lazy Sundays are Good for You!

To my dear readers:

The past 2 weeks have passed by like a whirlwind. I’ve been so busy adjusting back to my regular and new routines, also fitting in socializing and family times that I realize I am neglecting something very important in achieving work-life balance. It is ME!

Where I am, we have been blessed with warm summer-like weather for the past 2 weekends even though it’s Fall. Last Sunday I was thinking I should take advantage of the beautiful sunny day by doing something outdoorsy. However, I finally listened to what I really wanted and needed which was a lazy Sunday spent in my pajamas and doing nothing at all. I have been mentally and physically exhausted for a while now. My version of a lazy Sunday was being in my PJs and baking some goodies with the windows wide open so the sun can shine into the kitchen, while listening to peaceful music. Having a lazy Sunday all to myself made a world of difference for the rest of the week whether I am at work, exercising or being with other people. I felt more refreshed, energized and happier. 🙂

My lazy Sunday reminded me gently that all of us have to slow down once in a while and really listen to what our body and mind need to rejuvenate our soul. Having “Me” time allows us to enjoy and live in the moment and makes us feel more calmer, re-energized and confident in dealing with anything that comes our way in the upcoming days.

What is your version of a lazy Sunday? 😀

Wishing you all a happy beautiful Sunday & week ahead!! ❤

XO,

Violet

I found this awesome online poster on pinterest and it describes my version of lazy Sundays perfectly! Enjoy! :)

I found this awesome online poster on pinterest and it describes my version of lazy Sundays perfectly! Enjoy! 🙂

 

Take a Moment for Mesothelioma

Sometimes when you think you know almost everything (which is actually never true!!) about a certain topic/issue, you are surprised that there is actually more to learn about it and of this world. This is exactly what happened. I thought I had a general understanding of most types of cancer after what my dad went through and other people I knew who experienced other types of cancer. Emily Walsh, the Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, contacted me to help her in spreading the word about mesothelioma through her organization’s summer campaign called “Moment for Meso”. It was my first time hearing about this type of cancer and it is with pleasure I share with you some important facts I learned.

 
I ask you to please kindly take a moment for mesothelioma and read about this type of cancer below.

mesothelioma_awareness_ribbon

First of all, like me, you may wonder what is mesothelioma? I learned that it is an aggressive cancer that affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. One of the leading causes of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is an insulating material consisting of magnesium-silicate mineral fibres. It is invisible to the naked eye and often found in many older homes, schools, factories and commercial buildings as it was favoured by builders and contractors for many years for its low heat conductivity and resistance to melting and burning. Once it becomes worn or damaged, it causes fibres to flake off and become airborne; it is at this point that it becomes a great risk. When research showed that there is a link between mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos, this material was then used less. However, millions of people, both in America, Canada and around the world, are exposed to this harmful substance already.

 

Here are 5 startling facts about asbestos:

1. It was once used in more than 3000 American consumer products (e.g. household items like toasters and hair dryers) and some of which may still be in use today.

2. No amount of asbestos exposure is safe.

3. It is still not banned in the United States and about 30 million pounds are still used today.

4. It is possible to experience second-hand asbestos exposure by touching clothing or items that have asbestos fibers on them.

5. Asbestos exposure is the number one cause of occupational cancer in the USA even more than 30 years after its peak.

 

Now that you know what is asbestos and have a better understanding of how it is linked to mesothelioma, here are 5  interesting facts about this type of cancer:

1. Every year around 3000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma and are given an average of 10 months to live.

2. It can be difficult to diagnose as symptoms closely resemble other respiratory conditions.

3. Symptoms may not appear until 30-60 years later, after first exposure to asbestos.

4. Navy veterans are at the most risk of to develop mesothelioma since asbestos was widely used in Naval ships and shipyards.

5. Men are 4 times more likely than women to be diagnosed with mesothelioma; however, women are becoming victims to it through second-hand exposure.

 

Mesothelioma in Canada
As a Canadian citizen, I was curious to see if mesothelioma is becoming as prominent as in the United States, so I did a little bit of research. To my astonishment, I discovered that Canada has the highest mesothelioma cancer rate in the world. It is no wonder since Canada was heavily involved in the chrysotile asbestos industry since the late 19th century through mining and the federal government allowed its production and use in thousands of products. Similar to the United States, the most significant increases happened in the shipbuilding areas around Vancouver, and in Quebec. Quebec was home to many of Canada’s early asbestos mines.

According to medical experts, about 2.1 of 100, 000 Canadians are diagnosed every year with mesothelioma. Today, only 1 of the original 13 mines are in operation. The Canadian government did set some safety regulations on asbestos use. As well, it is spending billions of dollars to remove asbestos from schools, factories, plants and other commercial buildings. High-risk professions and trades affected by exposure to asbestos includes miners, ship loaders, truck drivers, carpenters, construction workers, insulation installers, plumbers, roofers, shipbuilders and textile workers.

 

International Connection
While Canada is trying to protect its own citizens from asbestos exposure (as given examples above), it is interesting to note that it led a successful campaign to block the listing of asbestos as a toxic material as proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and many countries at the Rotterdam Convention in 2004 and 2008. It also continues to be a major exporter of chrysotile asbestos to second and third world countries who do not monitor asbestos exposure or regulate its use, as it makes $100 million dollars.  All 27 European Union countries, Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Chile and Japan have banned asbestos in their countries. Second and third world countries such as India and Vietnam continue to use asbestos products in construction. However, on a positive note, it appears the Canadian government is changing its tune. In 2012, it revealed that it will no longer block international efforts to add chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous material at the Rotterdam Convention. The next Rotterdam Convention will be held in 2015. Let’s see if Canada will keep its promise next year.

 

Thank you for taking your time to read about mesothelioma and being part of  “Moment for Meso”. I hope you have learned something about it, and are more aware of it now. Feel free to spread the word to others and let’s all help to raise awareness! 🙂

mesothelioma-ribbon

 

If you like, you can learn more about mesothelioma by reading the following sites that I’ve used to put this post together.

http://www.mesothelioma.com/

http://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/canada/

http://www.cmfonline.org/http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/mesothelioma/mesothelioma/?region=on

http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/health-sante/environment-environnement/outdoor-air-exterieur/asbestos-amiante-eng.php

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/david-suzuki/absestos-canada_b_1681659.html

http://www.mining.com/canada-waves-au-revoir-to-asbestos-mining-20394/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-does-u-turn-on-asbestos-mining/article4545704/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/no-safe-use-as-the-top-workplace-killer-asbestos-leaves-a-deadly-legacy/article19151351/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/canada-won-t-oppose-asbestos-limits-1.1254033

Breathe In & Breathe Out = Accept & Let Go

As the year is coming to an end, I would like to thank each and everyone of you for reading, commenting, complimenting, and supporting my blog throughout the past six months.  Who knew that my little blogging exploration on my journey into healthy eating and balanced living is still going strong?  I did not anticipate that far ahead, and to know that I’m slowly but steadily gaining more wonderful readers and/or blogging friends as time goes by, is truly amazing.  I appreciate and am thankful for YOU! 🙂

Aside from connecting with loved ones and dear friends during this holiday season, something else that I appreciate and am thankful for in December is the opportunity to reflect.  Having this opportunity to reflect personally and professionally allows us to set goals and strategies to continue to grow and develop as a person of many roles (e.g. daughter, sister, friend, teacher, student etc.) for the next year.

An important lesson I learned this year, as I’m reflecting, is what my dearest wise friend Zainab shared with me at the beginning of the year while we were at a yoga conference.  She taught me a very simple meditation technique or coping mechanism when confronted with a stressful and/or difficult situation, personally or professionally.  It is simply to take a few minutes to BREATHE in a quiet space.

Here are the steps:

1. As you’re breathing in a deep breath slowly, accept what has happened in your mind.

2. As you breathe out slowly, let whatever has happened go in your mind.

3. Continue this technique as long as you want to and once you feel calm, you’ll feel peace in your heart and mind too.

I practised this meditation technique whenever I experienced the downs in my life.  It truly works and  I can honestly tell you that learning to “accept and let go” is the best medicine for my physical, mental and spiritual health this year!  Furthermore, I realized that there are some events/situations and people’s behaviour/attitude that are out of our control.  Frequently, these “out of control” situations or behaviour are what we consider  “awful, bad, or horrible” and upsets us.  Well, the only thing we can control is the way we react to and think about it.  To put it simply, we need to “accept and let go”, and not dwell in the past.  The power of positive thinking and being in the present does wonders for the body, mind and soul, and truly makes us happy from the inside out.

I wish you all happiness, love, peace, success, good health and beautiful moments for the upcoming new year! 🙂

Breathe in and breathe out, and let’s welcome 2014 with renewed energy, hope, and dreams!!

Looking at the beautifully icycle covered tree , as the sun shines on it, in my backyard after the ice storm last week reminded me that beauty exists even after the storm.  Just like breathing in and breathing out, we need to remember:  "Remain calm when a storm hits your life and remember the sun is never too far away." :)

Looking at the beautifully icicle-covered tree , as the sun shines on it, in my backyard after the ice storm last week reminded me that beauty exists even after the storm. Just like breathing in and breathing out, we need to: “Remain calm when a storm hits your life and remember the sun is never too far away.” 🙂

Surya Kriya: Discovering the Classical Roots of Yoga

At the Surya Kriya Program,  Toronto, July 2013

At the Surya Kriya Program, Toronto, July 6-7 2013

Over the first weekend of July, I attended a two-day yoga program/workshop organized by Isha Foundation.  I learned about this non-profit and non-religious yoga organization when I attended the Yoga Show in Toronto with 2 of my yoga friends a few months ago, and was attracted by the intensive teacher training program it offered to aspiring yogis/yoginis like me. 🙂  Therefore, I kept in touch with this foundation and learned that it was offering a program in Toronto, so of course I signed up for it!

Although I had no idea what kind of program I signed up for, I found the title “Surya Kriya” very mysterious and its name promising me further enlightenment of yoga.  I was super excited and thrilled to attend the workshop and didn’t mind the fact that I had to practise yoga on an empty stomach for both days.  Each day was 4 hours long of yoga practise.  As it turned out, I was in for a pleasant and new yoga experience!

Firstly, my perception of yoga has changed as a result of this unique learning experience.  I didn’t realize that the yoga I have been practising is actually a fusion of or modified versions of classical yoga poses.  For example, I’ve always done the Cat Stretch in 3 steps in my yoga studio.  Boy, was I in for a surprise, when I learned that the Cat Stretch can be stretched into 9 steps at this workshop!  It’s truly yoga in its purest classical form.  Lastly, I have learned that yoga should be part of my daily life and can be practised at home.  Prior to this workshop, I would schedule to go to my yoga classes 2-3 times a week, and practise yoga only at the studio.  From this workshop, I discovered that the most powerful yoga practise is when you can do it every day, which becomes daily routine like brushing teeth in the morning.

Now, I will share with you a few things that really stood out for me in the Surya Kriya Program, which has helped to deepen my understanding of yoga & practising it:

1. Yoga is not exercise.  It’s a body, mind and spirit experience, where we become whole with the universe.

~On our second day of the workshop, I felt this body/mind/spirit connection when we were asked as we practised our Surya Kriya routine, to visualize (mind) our better self (spirit) performing the poses perfectly, as we are doing it (body) simultaneously.  All 3 should always be active during yoga.

 

2. Yoga practise is internal cleansing.

 

3. Yoga is an enhancement of perceptiveness.

 

4. Practise yoga with devotion and reverence.

 

5. Wearing loose and comfortable cotton clothing is best.

 

6. There is no ego in yoga.

~Unlike the studio I go to for my yoga classes, this workshop is held in a huge room with no mirrors.  Sadhguru, the founder of Isha Foundation, explains that we need to be simple, back to the origins, when practising yoga.  We don’t need mirrors to watch ourselves to be the best or even use any props to help us achieve certain poses.  We simply let go of our ego, and listen to our inner self/voice, and try our best and do poses at our own pace or level.  We do not need to perfect a difficult pose right away.  It is ok to work towards it slowly.  It is only when we let go of our ego, we can find true inner peace or well-being, which is what yoga is all about in the first place.

 

Ultimately, I learned that I need to make Surya Kriya as part of my everyday life.  Surya Kriya is a 21 steps yoga routine that is required to be practised with devotion and reverence.  The definition of Surya Kriya is activating the energy of the sun within ourselves. (see here for more details: http://www.ishayoga.org/hata/teachertraining/surya-kriya/)  It needs to be practised twice a day for 40 days, and then once a day daily.  The idea is that after 40 days, it becomes a habit, which makes yoga practise so much more powerful and profound.  I am now in the process of making Surya Kriya become my daily routine, and will keep you posted on the impact it will have on me, when I’m ready. 🙂  Namaste!

Here are 3 quotes I love from Sadhguru: 1. "With proper practice of yoga , you create the right kind of chemistry where you are naturally peaceful, naturally joyous, naturally loving within you." 2. "You know everything about the world, but you do not know anything about yourself. This is a ridiculous way to live." 3. “How deeply you touch another life is how rich your life is.”

Here are 3 quotes I love from Sadhguru:
1. “With proper practice of yoga , you create the right kind of chemistry where you are naturally peaceful, naturally joyous, naturally loving within you.”
2. “You know everything about the world, but you do not know anything about yourself.
This is a ridiculous way to live.”
3. “How deeply you touch another life is how rich your life is.”

Mind Food: “Our body has the power to self-heal.”

The past week has been grueling from completing various deadlines at work, baking for a variety of events, to attending a few family celebrations (which I absolutely love).  I was literally rushing from one task or event to the next, with hardly any time to stop, breathe and think.  I feel as if I’ve been running on adrenaline for about a week now, and finally today my mentally and physically exhausted body told me to stop, think and listen to myself.  I’m reminded that I promised myself to focus on balancing my life, and right now my health and I am top priorities.  I was craving for some tranquility and relaxation, away from the hustle-bustle.  Without hesitation, I postponed an obligation because I realized that if I went there, I would simply exacerbate my exhaustion further.   Therefore, I escaped to one of my favourite places in the world: my regular go-to yoga studio.  It is a place where after a class, I feel rejuvenated, serene and balanced.

I’m happy I made the right decision to attend a yoga class today.  I met a fantastic instructor whom I have not taken a class with before, and found out why everyone raves about her.  She truly brings the term “yoga” to life.  A simple way to describe yoga is that it’s a union between body, mind and heart, and the continued practise of it brings  a sense of peace and well-being, and a feeling of being one with self, others and the environment.  This yoga instructor started our class with an “intention” (a promise we make to ourselves about what we intend to do, say, be etc. throughout our practise) which was that our own body has the capacity to self-heal.  Her intention for our class really resonated with me and I found it very thought-provoking, so I would like to share it with you here.  You don’t have to practise yoga to understand this message.  I believe it applies to everyone, whether you are beginning or already on your journey towards healthy and balanced living, in whichever way you choose to achieve this lifestyle.

My instructor said that we are conditioned and especially our mind to think that we need prescription drugs to heal, and that we can or cannot do certain things due to our age.  In other words, our mind limits the potential that is within us.  If we change the way we think, we can do anything and be able to broaden our horizon, which also includes the strong belief that our own body can heal itself naturally. Furthermore, we should let go of the fears, anger, self-hate, pain, and any other negative feelings and thoughts, bottled up inside us from past experiences and memories, and just focus on the present, opening up ourselves to the positivity and possibilities of life.

During class, I truly felt as if my body, mind and heart were one as I held the intention mindfully through every yoga pose.  Our body is indeed a powerful self-healing mechanism tied strongly to our mind.  You see, when I entered class, I felt weigh down by the past week’s grueling activities, hopeless towards the load of work waiting for me to be completed, and even restless.  However, at the end of class, my exhaustion and all the negative feelings and thoughts totally disappeared.  I felt re-energized and that I can accomplish anything to the best of my ability.  I just experienced that union of body, mind and heart:  As my mind rid itself of the “negative” energy, my heart was filled with self-belief and self-empowerment, and my body naturally felt more vibrant and strong.  That’s the power of positive thinking and self-healing!

Hope you find this mind food for thought meaningful and applicable for whatever stage you are at right now in your journey towards balanced living! 🙂

Namaste & Love, Violet

Power Within You