Paint By Number…

Posted by: on May 1, 2014


Paint by numbers
Rainy day and a cardboard box encased in plastic. Full to the brim and methodically packed with everything you needed to create a small predetermined work of art.  You found your little corner, laid on the ground and pulled the thin sheath of plastic off the box, lifting the top off to reveal the little numbered pots of paint, the rigid white rectangle covered with a blue mysterious map – organic shapes surrounding corresponding numbers to the colored plastic pots. Everything ordered and ready to go. Instructions on where to start, progress and finish. Time disappeared; the oily smell filled your nasal passages and sinuses.  Shapes became birds and trees and water and flowers. You channeled Monet and Gauguin.  In your cocoon, there was only you and color and smell. There was the methodical dip of brush to paint pot and back again -the sound of the bristles filling in the respective shapes. You were connected and mesmerized. Do you remember?

…Or perhaps you were playing with your Matchbox trucks, running them through the dirt, carrying their loads of pine cones and paperclips, grass clippings and dead bug carcasses… or catching polliwogs in the creek that ran between the houses. Polliwogs that got placed in a jar of water and you watched intently, day by day as they grew legs and transformed and metamorphosed into their fullness.

You laid on the ground, you walked barefoot in the creek, you started fires with your magnifying glass, you spun and twirled through the air until you got dizzy and fell over.  And then maybe you laid there on the ground and looked at the magnificence of the sky and space around you. You were connected and mesmerized. Do you remember? Inspiration, expiration.  Simplicity and joy. Interconnection and presence- no concerted effort.

Pancha Mahabhuta
Earth, Water. Fire. Air, Space (ether) These are the 5 elements. They are intrinsic to everything we are and everything that encompasses our world. Elemental interconnection. There was a time in our lives when the harmony between these 5 great forces flowed naturally like the creek where you gathered your polliwogs.  And then chaos entered. Life and family and school and jobs and responsibilities and ego and keeping up and keeping up some more.  Technology and change, the cacophony of living and doing. Trying to paint by numbers and stay within the lines until the dog comes along and knocks your arm and you are forced to look at your rigid painting in a whole new way.  And perhaps you like the new way of seeing.  Maybe you are reminded of the freedom of slowing down and taking the time to see things in a new way. Time to reconnect with your elemental true nature. There is an echo, a longing for simplicity and authenticity.  A call to find it and hold it and maintain that connection.

SHHhh! Be quiet.  A most gentle and kind request. The gift of introversion. That tug you are feeling is the deja vu of freedom and simplicity. Life edited. To go back to the cocoon of nature and peace and the connection of Pancha Mahabhuta. What you may initially feel is an indulgence will, before long , be seen as imperative to living a much-engaged life. Reconnecting with your truest values- what is unique to you and how to offer your uniqueness back to the great and grateful community you share life with.

Walk barefoot on the earth, play and be close to the water, sit under the golden heat of the sun and absorb the power and wisdom. Feel the touch of the air, the wind, as it crosses over your body and just for a moment- forget where your body ends and the air around you begins.  Melt into that space.

Go outside in the evening and marvel at the great infinite universe, count stars and listen. Listen intently… Inspiration, expiration.  Simplicity and joy. Interconnection and presence- no concerted effort.

Sheila Cullen is teaching a Quiet Practice workshop and course that will focus on Pancha  Mahabhuta.

May 10th 1-4 Workshop
May 15 5 Thursdays 7-8:45pm
Both at Spirit Loft 290 Carlaw . Pre-registration is required.


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This is my WORD PROJECT 2014

Posted by: on December 31, 2013

(Or why I don’t set intentions) Just one word
It’s okay to want to be a better you, and the New Year is a natural time to start. The question is, how? “This is my WORD” replaces broken promises with a possibility for real change. When you choose a single word, you start with simplicity, clarity and focus. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past.

New Years Resolutions are famously lofty. We choose something like “I’m going to lose weight” but we haven’t developed the focus, discipline or system to achieve that resolution. From the get-go- resolutions have the taste of “I’m not good enough” and when we fail to achieve them (as we do in 90% of the cases within a few short weeks)- we feel lousy about ourselves.

Change is absolutely possible, but focus is required. How do you create focus? Give yourself the opportunity to “GET QUIET” on a regular basis. Even for a short 5-10 minutes a day.

Choosing One Word will give you the opportunity to check in daily  and create awareness. Change is possible, but focus is required.
Before you embark on this journey, a little word of warning: Don’t be surprised if living out your “one word” feels unnatural and awkward at first. Remember, the reason you want to change is due to the fact that this intrinsic characteristic is not currently shining in your day-to-day life.

Give it time and stay with it.

STEP ONE- Determine the kind of person you want to become
The first step is to take some time and decide what kind of quality  you want to cultivate-What kind of person do you want to be at the end of this year. This goes beyond simply being healthier and wealthier. It must drive deep into your soul. What about the condition of your heart? Your innate and intrinsic gifts/talents?

STEP TWO- Identify the characteristics of that person.
Who is your hero? Think about the qualities of the person or people you most admire.  What is it about them that draws you like a moth to a flame? Get a picture of that person and simply identify their major characteristics. Is that person gentle? Is that person generous?  Write down a few of those qualities and allow them to resonate for you. Which ones keep pulling your attention.?
A wise person (Jim Rohn) once said that “We are the average of the 5 people that we spend the most time with.” Food for thought.

STEP THREE- Pick a word
Once you have a list of characteristics, simply pick a word. There might be 15 things you want to change, but you must resist the temptation to promise you will do them all. Instead simply commit to one word. ONE WORD, one day at a time.

Please find below a list of suggested words and qualities.  Use one of these words if you choose or any of an infinite number of possibilities. This is your word, your life. Enjoy and have FUN!



Enough Nature
Action   Passion
Adventurous Fearless Peace
Affectionate Free Possibility
Astonished Faith







Grateful Receptive



Boundaries   Renew
Calm Harmony Security
Carpe- Diem Healthy Selfless
Contentment   Sensitivity








Courage   Tranquility








Disciplined Limitless Wisdom
Dream Listening  

I am wishing you a year of curiosity! Give yourself the gift of Quiet.  Say no to mediocrity. Say hello to inspiration and creativity. Polish off your unique YOU and give your fellow earthlings all the shine that you’ve been holding back!
May you be Happy, May you be Well, May you be at Peace.
May you know  and be Love-



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Goodbye, Hello.

Posted by: on April 21, 2013

I am sitting on the floor in the warm spot of Spring sunshine that comes into the yoga studio in the late afternoon. In a week this place, this space as you and I know it will no longer BE.   There is a bit of chaos involved in winding down a business-quite frankly at times the feeling of  “I just want this to be over so I can move on.” But today- Today I stopped. And I sat. And I picked up my pen. Today I reflected on the goodness that has been brought through these doors by countless open-hearted individuals. Individuals that through the years have been my joy, my community, at times my nemesis, but always my teachers.

And then I thought about what we leave behind.

Recently- a friend of mine was asked to leave her beloved home because her landlords were selling the property. They gave her 6 months notice. She loved this home, this space, and although she knew she was leaving she continued to lovingly tend her garden. Her neighbour , who knew she was moving asked her “Why?, What does it matter?” She replied “I don’t want to leave it choked with weeds.”  I thought about my friends reply and I thought about how when we begin to let something go, we often energetically remove all that joy and community and connection from a space we loved because -“It’s not ours any more, who cares?” But what remains after we leave a place says a lot about who we are.  There is a line in a Ricky Lee Jones song that says ” You never know when you are making a memory”.

I write this as an invitation to you to make a memory. To join us in sangha for our final week of practice at Seven Seeds Studio.  To leave  a few “seeds” in this community space of practice, remembering that what we plant takes root, blossoms  and produces more seeds- not just for us but for those who come after us. Each seed grows roots and will grow long after we have moved on. This is JOY, this is life! I believe this is why we are here.

In this late afternoon – I take these last precious moments of warmth and quiet before you arrive for class and I think about how when we moved here (after several journey’ s for those of you that know) I thought it was the final “forever” place. We had arrived.

I listen to the distant urban noises and I hear the echo of your breath. I am reminded of the tender lessons of Goodbye.  And I look forward to the sweet unknown of Hello.


With Sincere Joy and Gratitude.


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Desire & Possibility

Posted by: on February 16, 2013

Desire & Possibility submitted by Sandy Robb

The red carpet was out, tea was on the hob and 7 Seeds Yoga Studio owner Sheila Cullen welcomed us to the studio’s Desire and Possibility workshop. On a brilliant sunny January day anything seemed possible….Life coaches Ellen and Jeff White helped us build individual goals by focusing on the essence behind each concrete goal…

Our goal oriented society lauds the end result…but it is in the journey where life happens. The Whites encouraged we goal seekers to concentrate on the here and now: How will I learn, develop, find joy in working to my goal? At each step of the journey what excites me? By putting our energy into the journey we can lift the veil and discover rich, joyful, inspiring possibilities…

First, state the goal in positive terms; for example: Growing my business will make me confident and self supporting. Then name the feeling or ‘side effect’ behind the goal; “I’m excited about establishing a blog; writing content/ taking pictures will develop my business and learning new skills is empowering for me.”

Of course the “ugly stepsister” or Bad Habits will often show up to derail our well laid plans…comparing ourselves with others is not helpful and is a slippery slope to feeling de-motivated and “less than”… give it a rest! Everyone has a unique belief system and support network that is entirely different.  Stick to your journey, not someone else’s.

Enough with the ‘C’ priorities…stick with your knitting and go for the A…’s. Resist the allure of the easily gained ‘C’.

Forced willpower – when you are motivated by the dreaded “I should”, it’s simply unsustainable for long. You will feel resistance because you’re disconnected from the essence of your goal.

Excuses, call them out…we all have them and we know who they are…look at the pattern of justifications and don’t give in to victim energy; lack and powerlessness. Instead be honest; own that you are: a) putting the needs of others first b) no time c) the need for perfect conditions etc.

The list goes on…Limiting Beliefs are rooted in our consciousness…if our goal is to run a marathon and we have never been active, our belief system strongly opposes our desire. Goals help us get in touch with our beliefs. And it is up to us to embrace that belief or take responsibility for a new way of being by choosing a more supportive belief. We all have a story…but it’s what we do about it that counts.

What’s in your tool kit? Tips and Tools from the Whites:


  • “Live as if you’ve already attained your goal…how would you feel, what impact does it have?
  • Create the habit first that will help you reach your goal; schedule it for just five minutes a day until it is habitual…then up the intensity
  • Be clear on creating sub-goals from A – F; work backwards from F to develop a concrete step- by-step plan
  • Start with low risk; i.e. : if you are changing careers volunteer for free in your chosen field, get the real life experience without the pressure
  • Protect your goal; recruit support, have someone help you be accountable
  • Be causal: Stay in the driver’s seat; initiate decisions and stop things getting in your way- play it out; what is the impact of each decision, how will I feel at the end?
  • Visualization; picturing the routine or the feeling of reaching your goal is another way of experiencing the journey, visualize working through your limiting beliefs

Interactive Q & A happened throughout the workshop; the Whites encouraged thoughts, questions and feedback.  And they were very skillful at getting to the ‘heart of the matter’ or the essence; what really counts for each individual. Participants were given a new, substantive perspective on creating and working to a goal. And the end result is not even the half of it…life happens along the way.


Jeff and Ellen White will be conducting a series of workshops at Seven Seeds from April- June. Owner Sheila Cullen will announce content and date soon. For more info please click here


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Mindfulness Practice for 2013

Posted by: on January 7, 2013


Mindfulness Practice for 2013

Our first weekly installment Submitted by Heather Elson

Lots of us feel we would like to practice mindfulness, but that we don’t have any time to fit it in. Jan Chozen Bays, MD, offers us weekly practices to integrate into life, in a great little book called ‘How to Train a Wild Elephant’. At Seven Seeds this year, we will offer a new mindfulness practice each week, following Dr. Chozen Bays guide.

This week’s invitation: Use your nondominant hand.
Use your nondominant hand for some ordinary tasks each day. These could include brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or eating with the nondominant hand for at least part of each meal. If you’re up for a big challenge, try using the nondominant hand when writing or eating with chopsticks!

Reminding yourself:
You might remind yourself by wearing a bandage on your dominant hand, and when you notice it switch to your nondominant hand. You could make a sign for your bathroom mirror that says “left hand” (if you’re right handed). Or tape a paper cut out of your hand to your mirror, refrigerator, desk, or computer. Wherever you’re likely to see it. You could also tape something to your toothbrush handle to remind you when you’re brushing your teeth.

Remember last week’s blog? I wrote about ‘samskaras’ or mental grooves. Using our nondominant hand is an excellent way to carve new grooves.

Please feel free to comment on the blog with the discoveries you make throughout this week’s challenge. I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Next week I’ll comment on the deeper lessons (you are also welcome to do so, as they become apparent to you!) and offer the next challenge.

May the force be with you!

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Resolving Resolutions through Intention

Posted by: on January 4, 2013

Submitted by Heather Elson

Before lunch on New Year’s Day I was reading posts on Facebook from friends who’d already broken their resolutions.  One pictured a takeout burger, fries and a pop.  One had just purchased a pack of cigarettes.  Another simply quipped, “It’s not even eleven a.m., and I’ve officially broken every one of my resolutions.”  Sound familiar?

Resolutions are quick, absolute, rigid.  Yoga philosophy cautions against sudden change.  Transformation takes time.  Just ask the butterfly.  Intention, on the other hand, is something you can create and recreate every day.  Intention is deliberate, present, mutable.

Imagine you wanted to eat better foods.  Instead of resolving never to eat sugar again, you might create the intention of health.  As you move through your day, you may find yourself choosing to make a smoothie instead of a coffee, or nibbling a handful of almonds over a mid-afternoon donut.

It’s funny that we think we can break a habit or a pattern over night.  Imagine that for years and years, you walked the same path through the woods.  One day, you decide to create a new path.  The new path however, is not yet easy to find every time.  Sometimes you forget where the new path starts, or you find yourself autopiloting down the old path before you know it.  In yoga, we call these mental pathways ‘samskaras’.   They are grooves in the mind and body, conditioned patterns.  In ‘The Inner Tradition of Yoga’, Michael Stone has this to say:
“Positive samskaras germinate based on positive mental states, and negative samskaras repeat in negative mental conditions.  A shoulder moves within a certain spectrum of movement, and as we open up the shoulder joint, a new pattern of movement is formed.  The samskaras are constantly evolving.  Like a gardner working non-stop, our work is to cultivate the field of the samskaras in such a way that we monitor which karmic seeds evolve in what way.”

So, we make these rigid and sudden resolutions, and then we plant more self-defeating seeds the minute we falter, and throw the whole thing out the window.  We make ourselves bad and wrong and we give up until the next new year.


Maybe it’s time to try something new?  Here’s my invitation to a truly transformative and fulfilled 2013:

Each morning upon waking, recall your dreams.  Write them down.  Even if in the in-between state you’re sure you’ll remember, trust me.  You won’t.  Pleasant or otherwise, your dreams are your unconscious communicating valuable and important lessons.  The meanings may not be immediately apparent, but they’ll come through at some point, and are helpful tools for fostering self-awareness and growth.

Next, again before you get out of bed, create your intention for your day.  Not for your year, but just for today.  If you are not one hundred percent successful, you’ve got tomorrow to recreate.  And here’s the best part about setting intentions:  the universe is listening.  Each day, you will be supported in ways you didn’t imagine when you created your intention.  If your intention is health and the bakery is sold out of your usual chocolate croissant, don’t allow your doubting ego to convince you this is a “coincidence.”  You are being heard and cared for.

*Let me be very clear, that setting intentions does not negate goal setting.  You can create your intention with your goals in mind.  Support your goals with intention, but stay away from resolutions.*

Finally, practice gratitude.  Practicing gratitude cultivates abundance.  Write down three or four things (more if you like!)  every day that you are grateful for.  Even if you don’t believe in this practice, do it anyway.  It’s better than reliving your frustration with your boss or your mechanic.  Find a way to be grateful for difficult moments and lessons.

Be gentle.  Be kind.  Tread slowly and mindfully, it’s slippery out there.  Create new mental and physical pathways with your yoga practice.  Plant seeds anew every day that bring your 2013 dreams to fruition.

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Empty Cradle (Submitted by Heather Elson)

Posted by: on December 5, 2012

On the afternoon of December 23rd, 1993, I returned home from work to the news that my newest cousin, baby Shelby, whom I’d yet to meet, had been kidnapped from Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington.  I was asked to drive my brother and his friend to hockey practice in Ancaster, so my mom could be by the phone for any news.

I was shocked, I think, and took the boys to practice.  Later we went to Taco Bell, as no one could think about making dinner.  As the hours wore on, my parent’s house filled with my dad’s other sisters, plus all our immediate family, gathered around the TV, waiting for the news to deliver our prayers.  Around midnight, nearly twelve hours after Shelby was taken, Jennifer Mossop of CHCH News, smilingly told us and the rest of the waiting nation, that Shelby had been found.  I collapsed in tears in the door frame, others of us cheered and cried.  It was chaos of the most beautiful kind.  We rushed to my Aunt Diana’s house to revel in Shelby’s return, in each other, in the Christmas miracle.

Years have passed, nearly twenty.  For all these years, this experience has been something my Aunt has held on to in angst, in fear, in horror.  She suffers from PTSD, and has done so largely in silence from most.

This year, Diana wrote and released a book called ‘Empty Cradle’ telling the story of not only her family and the after-effects of Shel’s kidnapping, but also of her own childhood, as well as the life of the kidnapper.  She parallels their stories with grace and sensitivity.  She shines a light into her darkest, most feared places, and spins a marvelous, riveting tale that you will be glad she has chosen to share.

What does any of this have to do with yoga, or Seven Seeds?

How this all relates to yoga is simple.  What secrets do you hold on to out of fear that the truth revealed will be too difficult?  What dark places are you afraid to enlighten?  Courage, my loves.  Courage to speak the unspeakable, to speak your truth, to shine the light on your darkest places and invite them into the light.

Come and see what that looks like.

Thursday December 6th, at 8pm, Diana Walsh, the author and my beloved auntie, will come speak at Seven Seeds.  SSS’s own Carol Ireland is bringing her book club to us, and she is inviting you too.  Diana will be on hand to sell and sign her book, as well as be involved in the discussion and answer any questions you might have.  If you haven’t read the book yet, don’t worry.  I knew the ending, and I still read Empty Cradle in an afternoon, unable to stop turning pages.

Carol will be providing snacks and libations, and would love to know how many to prepare for.  Please let us know if you plan to attend. will get you to me.  Just RSVP as to how many guests you are.

As a special treat, Katrina’s 6:30pm class that same night will be a $10 charge.  If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of Katrina’s knowledge and skills, I highly recommend you join her first.  Remember to take care of yourself this month!

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Seven Seeds and Yoga Nidra

Posted by: on June 3, 2012

Experience the magic of stillness. Do you want to know more about Yoga Nidra?

yoga nidraWhat is Yoga Nidra?

A Practice of “Being”

Yoga Nidra originated from the ancient Tantric yogic practice of deeply relaxed meditation. It is an 8 stage  systematic approach that essentially massages the brain by taking  the practicioner through a guided  journey of body, breath and sensory perception.. This induces  a profound state of receptive relaxation.  It is typically practiced lying down. Within this deep state of effortlessness, your innate “knowing” or intelligence is given the opportunity to reveal   solutions, revelations and resolutions that you are seeking (consciously or subconsciously)- so that you can address the issues, questions and conundrums of your daily life. With a regular Yoga Nidra Practice, it is not uncommon for spontaneous physical, psychological and interpersonal transformational shifts to occur.

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