Focus Your Mindspace
by Kiki Athanas
September 16, 2019
Being able to still your mind is a practice, and for many of us, a little guidance is often necessary to really get started - and actually keep it up. Just like we go out of our way to make it out to yoga studios, even though we could "technically" just flow at home, there's something special about practicing in the company of others. While it may seem a bit of a far stretch to go to a scheduled class where the sole purpose is to sit still and "do nothing"...there's SO much more to it than you think. Ever since I visited the +focus mindspace studio, I immediately felt the warmth that this community in the heart of Queen West is holding space for in the land of meditation, mindfulness and art.
Thoughtful teachers guide group meditation, soundbath, recovery & trauma informed classes, workshops, mindful leadership and teacher trainings. The studio welcomes new and advanced students into the inspired space, featuring work from a new Toronto artist each month.
The intention of each class is to prepare students to take the focus, resilience and compassion created on the cushion into a more mindful experience of everyday.
The Founder, Heather Cameron, is a creative arts professional, entrepreneur, executive coach, mentor and advocate within mental health and addiction recovery programs, proud LGBTQ+ and a mom of two.
Meditation practices have been the core of my personal recovery journey, moving from a life disconnected to one that is lived fully.
The studio is a space for people to begin, to continue, and to deepen connections with themselves, with others, and with the world around them. This is what we need to build. This is the human experience we need to share and it needs to be accessible to as many people in the community as possible.
Heather's two most favourite quotes ever are...
“We have the freedom to change who we are at any moment.”
- Humble the Poet
“Allow yourself to transform as many times as you need to be fully happy and free.”
- Yung Pueblo
Personally, I'd highly recommend the studio not only for it's comforting aesthetics but even more so the incredible roster of teachers they have - each offering their own unique approach to meditation & mindfulness practices in a special way available at the studio. I'd love to introduce a few of these wonderful souls to you in this post, and hope that they inspire you as much as they do me!
meditation, mindful leadership coaching & teacher
Talib's vision is to continue his deep dive into the world of self discovery and to guide others towards a deeper understanding of Self and of the energetic body where he believes the true magic happens. An avid meditator with two Vipassana retreats under his belt, he loves leading meditations, giving lots of reiki love and dancing between the internal and external worlds.
Meditation & Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master, Positive Psychology graduate.
"First I would ask the question, 'Why do we want a meditative lifestyle and what does that even mean?'. For me it means developing a deeper level of self awareness. How do we do that? Here are a few tips to start with (many of you may not like this).
- Take a break with media intake. No news, sports, Netflix etc... I’m not saying forever but for long enough that you can get a start on life without external noise. You can really begin to pay attention to yourself, to your mind and overall present internal state of being. I cancelled my cable when I was 25 and it exponentially elevated my life.
- Dial down or eliminate mind altering substances. Alcohol, marijuana and any other substances of choice. Why? Because we can’t truly be aware of self if we are constantly intoxicating the mind. To live a meditative filled lifestyle we need to work with the mind in its current state.
- At +focusmindspace my favourite meditation to practice and teach are body scans. Taking the mind from our heads and learning how to move it throughout the whole body to generate awareness of self by beginning with a physical level body scan and inevitably moving through at a cellular level. It will be one of the most valuable skills you could learn to move towards an internal and external peaceful and meditative state of being."
You can join Talib Tuesdays @ 6pm for his “Ever Evolving” offering.
This is a meditation class for all levels. We develop a deeper awareness of self by practicing and experiencing the movement of mind. We will guide you through a practice that will take you from your head, sometimes referred to as the thinking mind and into the rest of your body, gently guiding you within the deeper parts of yourself. Using focused attention techniques, body scans, loving-kindness meditations and reiki practices, we begin cultivating a deeper connection between the mind and body.
Owen Ware is a Toronto based yoga and meditation teacher with a passion for community building and personal development. He draws upon a range of mindfulness techniques in his classes to help deepen feelings of relaxation, tranquility, and well-being, with a focus on empowering others to reach a deeper sense of connection with themselves and the world. With a PhD in Philosophy, Owen also loves to explore the ancient teachings of western and eastern wisdom traditions and their application to our modern lifestyle.
"I focus on my breath. When your thoughts are wandering or agitated, it can be difficult to calm the mind directly. But when you calm your breathing, the mind often calms as a result. For me, this is such a simple and powerful way to practice mindfulness both on and off the meditation cushion. I like to start my classes by attending to the breath, just noticing the sensations before trying to alter the inhales and exhales. That's often enough to bring me more fully into the present moment. Off the meditation cushion, I try to practice mindful breathing whenever I can. A homework exercise I often give to new meditators is this: just take three deep breaths a day. And do that everyday. Naturally you'll want to do more in time, but it's an easy way to begin a practice. Just three deep breaths."
If you're just starting out with meditation, I'd highly recommend Owen's Foundations class Mondays @ 6pm (its known as "the meditation style sampler").
This 45 min class is designed for those new to meditation or looking to re-root into the essentials of the practice. Join him for a guided meditation exploring a variety of styles to help you find more focus, presence, and compassion through the practice, closing with space to address any questions and share our experiences.
Human x Empath.
Bonnie is a yin yoga teacher & guide. After starting this journey as a Hatha practitioner and teacher, she slowly started to gravitate towards the Yin Practice. Subsequent to completing her Yin training with Bernie Clark & Diana Batts, she fell in love with this practice even more and now shares her love for Yin whenever she can.
Her guidance is based on: connecting to the intelligence that naturally exists within each human being & building different connection pathways and roads to this intelligence.
"Being a student & guide of the Yin Practice, I have noticed that through the practice, I am more aware of each thought, action and decision that I make. With a naturally fiery personality, incorporating a daily yin practice has helped me to become more grounded and balanced. If the breath is the backdoor to getting into the mind, then the body is the front door to getting into our emotions. The Yin practice, to me, combines both."
Ready to get human again? Sit with Bonnie on her Yin Journey Sundays @ 4pm.
This is a mindful practice exploring the different elements of the Yin tradition. Each class explores the intentions we have for the practice, a guided series, savasana and the opportunity to share the experience. Yin poses are passive, utilizing long, static holds (generally 3-5 minutes) that use props to support you and are primarily close to the ground.
Let’s be honest, everyone can use a little bit of Yin in their lives!
sound and restorative
Kiko Sounds is an artist and teacher specializing in sound, meditation, restorative practices and relational aesthetics. As co-founder of Toronto's contemporary design shop and gallery, Magic Pony + Narwhal Projects, she spent over a decade collaborating with artists from around the globe, curating exhibitions, publications, and interactive environments. She now combines her background in contemporary culture with holistic methodologies to offer ephemeral, immersive vibrational experiences intended to guide those present towards a unified state of wholeness.
Haiku for Deep Listening:
Quiet open ears.
Listen to your heart's deep song.
Feel in, breathe, be sound.
Kiko leads a soundbath every Thursday @ 7:30pm.
Sound and vibration are felt through our skin, in our bones and deep within the nervous system. Receiving a sound bath can help create shifts in our bodies and this allows for the space and possibility for healing to take place on many different levels. By tuning into ourselves while sharing a communal environment, we also create the opportunity to attune to each other through the shared experience of sound in this 60min session.
I feel lucky to say that we do have a wide array of worthy studios in this beautiful city of Toronto, but I can also share with confident honesty that this one is worth the trip, every time.
all are welcome. just as you are. meet YOU on the cushion.
- Heather Cameron