Our b, halfmoon manifesto
Nature is truth. It grounds, inspires, and guides us.
With each day, the rising and setting sun and moon
bring new freedom, growth, and light.
Let nature inspire you to #liveyourtruth.
Elena is a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and the founder behind Mindful PPL, a wellness and meditation studio in Toronto. Through her classes and personal guidance, Elena creates a safe space for her community to explore their inner selves and discover peace and tranquility.
Our founder, Andrea, connected with Elena to discover what her truth is.
Andrea: Hello, Elena. Nice to have you here.
Elena: Hello, hello. Thank you for having me.
Andrea: Thank you. You're familiar with the b, halfmoon brand manifesto that we shared with you. I wanted to open by inquiring what that means to you on a personal level.
Elena: On a personal level, I have to say I was never connected to nature. That connection is something I discovered not long ago. Nature is such a beautiful reminder for us of impermanence. No matter what is going on, it's still thriving. Nature is such a great reminder for just being–being yourself. Not for anyone else, but for you.
It also shows us the interconnection of everything–all the elements that come together and create such a beautiful, nurturing and grounding environment for us. Also, it's just how days are passing. There’s always going to be a sunrise. That's a great reminder for us to appreciate the day and be ready for the new one.
Andrea: I think nature is multidimensional, just like the human experience.
I think the piece of every day being a new day resonates with me because if you have a bad day, well, there's always tomorrow. There's always that new light and new opportunity for growth and new freedom, which is a big piece of our manifesto that I think can resonate with anyone at any life stage, despite what they may be going through.
That's something you mentioned that really resonates with me on a personal level. For me, when I look at nature, it is truth. It can't lie. It doesn't know how to lie, as far as I can tell. That's inspiration to always try to root into myself and be true to who I am. We have so many layers to ourselves, but nature is such an inspiration to be true to me and to speak my truth, which is ever evolving.
Do you have rituals or beliefs in your daily life that support you in being true to you?
Elena: I do. It's not something very official but it is about taking a moment in the morning and setting up the intention for the day and the nature.
How do you feel when you wake up in the morning and the sky is blue? I feel like no matter what yesterday was, when you see that blue sky, it just sets up such a perfect mood for the day. It gives hope. That's for me, personally.
About the rituals, I think remembering not to rush and starting the day with a good pace. It's always, “Okay, we need to get up. Kids. Breakfast. Lunch. What's the day?” But when we take a moment and take that morning to wake up, connect to the body and ask, “What's the state of my mind today? What do I want to create out of this day,” I know that I do have power over this day. I do have power in how I approach whatever comes my way.
Andrea: Taking those micro moments are more meaningful than they may seem.
Elena: Yes. And there is a great saying…
Drop by drop, the bucket will be filled. It's consistency. It does not matter how big or small our steps, as long as we continue, this is all that matters.
And always, if we could see any situation at the deeper level, our only response would be compassion. This is how I think we should approach each day, with compassion. And most importantly, compassion towards ourselves. I know that's the hardest.
Andrea: That’s a beautiful statement. If we see every situation at a deeper level, that results in compassion.
Elena: Our only response would be compassion.
Andrea: Yeah, that's true. If we can pause and actually appreciate each action and reaction and see the depth behind it, our response to that is compassion.
Going back to nature, we're looking outside right now and one thing that inspires me via nature is the colours. You mentioned blue in the morning and the green of the trees right now, how it just feels more vibrant than any other green you've ever seen.
And the light that we're seeing on this retreat brings me so much inspiration and levity. It lightens my spirit. That's also part of our manifesto–to find the light in each day and to find the joy and the fun in our lives and the moments.
Are there any elements in your life or routines that facilitate you in finding that light?
Elena: I will be absolutely honest, it's music.
Music… it brings so many memories to what was once there. It also helps to set up my mood. And the colour green, I feel like it's the colour of life. Green also brings healing and nourishment for the body, for those senses.
Andrea: Green works for me. It's quite beautiful. And being the founder of Mindful People, this beautiful space in Toronto that facilitates and makes meditation and other wellness and mindfulness practices more accessible, do you have any tools or routines that you promote within that space that are really, really helpful? Especially for those who are new to trying to access that aspect of mindfulness and wellness.
Elena: I do. I'm sharing advice that I received: Don't take it too seriously. The simpler, the better. It doesn't have to be anything complex. Taking the moment of not reacting, it's already mindfulness. Taking that pause, it's already mindfulness. Being aware of your thoughts, it's already mindfulness. Just sitting still in silence, that's the moment of mindfulness. It doesn't have to be complicated.
Andrea: Sometimes we place these concepts or practices on this unachievable pedestal. But you're right, it has to be broken down and like many things, it's not as daunting or difficult as it may seem. And there is an entry point that anyone can achieve.
Elena: Whatever activity you have that you feel grounded, start there.
Andrea: And there are many avenues. Art, music, nature. Sleep.
Elena: If it works, it works at this moment, right? And we rest in different ways.
My only advice is the simpler the better. Even observing the breath, it’s such a simple practice, however, it still requires some effort and effort is not that simple.
Andrea: That's the catch.
Elena: But when you have an understanding, the nature of your mind, the thoughts, emotions, it helps us to actually bring this observation of the breath into life. Not reacting to those thoughts. Remembering that they will come, they will go.
Andrea: I'm curious to understand your relationship with crystals. I've seen them in your space, so I know that you have some form of a meaningful relationship with them, and I'd love to understand that a little bit more.
Elena: First of all, they're beautiful. You cannot have enough. But everything is vibration, right? Everything is energy. And they are a product of nature. And nature is so pure. It just is.
I like to approach ourselves as minds, while some people would like to say souls or spirits. In my vocabulary, I use mind. It’s the most powerful thing. Everything comes from the mind. Nothing exists without first appearing within the mind.
Crystals are beautiful. Colour wise, we can use that as a support. We can draw that energy of a colour and sit with that. We can focus on the texture of that crystal, observe it. That can be a mindfulness practice as well– seeing that crystal that has been on the shelf for weeks or years, but one moment, taking it and seeing it as you've seen this difference. You observe it from that place of curiosity and openness that takes you to the present moment.
This is where your focus is because the mindfulness and meditation, it's all about not being lost in the thoughts or overwhelmed with emotions, but being present in the moment.
People can use crystals as a supportive tool. For example, put it in the palm and just staying focused with the object and visualizing how its energy and that vibration of healing is going through your body to your heart. Visualization is a powerful tool.
Andrea: It sure is. I'd never drawn the parallel of crystals as a tool in this descriptive case, a tool towards mindfulness and meditation. I've never paralleled it to a yoga block. A tool to deepen your physical yoga.
I like aesthetic things and I think that's one of the reasons why I'm so drawn to crystals. They're just so darn beautiful and one day you favour one and the next day you favour another but obviously there's so much history and depth beyond that. But even just the aesthetic in your space is enhancing. Do you have a favorite stone or does it vary daily?
Elena: It's amethyst. And it's been known for healing all. It has all purpose, whereas some of them are just grounding, another one for the heart. But amethyst, it's all purpose and it's just so stunning. It brings so much joy to me when I just look at this.
Andrea: The purple is just majestic and supreme. I have an amethyst crystal in my living room. Amethyst and rose quartz are the two that I'm drawn to most. And they're also very common crystals.
Elena: They are. And I feel their colour is very soothing. They're very gentle.
Andrea: We could talk crystals for hours. Do you have an Ayurvedic practice? Is it something that interests you?
Elena: I do believe in Ayurveda. I was fascinated by this practice. The practitioner that I met, she was telling me about the doshas.
Without any questions, she could measure and could tell you where the imbalance is through the pulse, with such a light touch. The way she was asking me questions was exactly how I felt. Very ungrounded, unsettled. With a little adjustments and including some spices, I feel like it created a difference.
I also noticed how in winter, I'm leaning towards certain foods and she was explaining why. But I have to say, as a Western person, it's not so easy to adapt, just because those spices are not a common part of my daily diet. So it takes a lot of adjustments. But I take the basic elements since I cannot sustain just on raw food, whereas other people thrive on it.
In wintertime, I need more soups and something softer and warm. In summer, I'm doing great on salads. So from that perspective, I love it. Dosha is connected to the seasons as well, how it's changing. We are changing, our energies are changing and our food preferences are also changing. So just being very flexible. Ayurveda takes, I think, holistic nutrition to a very deep level, very subtle levels.
Andrea: I love it as well. And one of our goals is to make things like Ayurvedic spices more accessible to the Western world because it's all great as a concept, but it's really hard to achieve right now. We're working to find ways to just make different blends of spices and recipes that people can achieve any day of the week at home.
Elena: And that food with such a rich amount of spices, it brings such a depth to the meal. I'm, on the other hand, a very simple person. I sometimes don't even put salt in my food because I want to taste the taste of the food, of each ingredient. But sometimes I go in another direction, more complex, more in depth.
I also learned there that the portion size all depends on the person. We have a cup standard measurement, right? But for me, the cup would be my palm. For my husband, the cup would be a different size. The measuring tool in Ayurveda, it just blew me away.
Andrea: Fascinating. Do you want to talk about oils?
Elena: I don't have a good knowledge on them, but the smell is a powerful sense.
It brings memories. It brings emotions. It brings different feelings. It can be very grounding and very uplifting. For me I don't usually use oils personally in my own practice, but I connect it to a very pleasant experience in the yoga studio. When at the end of the practice, they come around or it's on the towel, and you think “Yes, I made it.” It brings that conclusion to the class.
Andrea: It's really when you melt into your body, melt into your mat.
Elena: So in that way, I love oil. I love it when they're applied to me by someone else. It's always beautiful.
Andrea: Best part of a practice. Is there anything else that you feel called to share in this conversation?
Elena: What about nature? If you don't mind me coming back to it. I was never a nature person, or the type to go outside in nature. There are flies, there are different things that just take me out of it. But now, when I go there, it’s amazing.
They are living and it's a whole different universe. And just being the visitor there and noticing how it's all interconnected. It's so simple. And they're all in this together. They all have their own worlds, right?
Andrea: There's such an overarching theme of simplicity and beauty, yet so much depth to all of those elements.
Elena: It is a living organism. So that mindfulness, meditation and that reflecting on interconnecting and impermanence… I started to see nature very differently.
Andrea: I feel that way as well. Thank you for the conversation. It was beautiful.
Follow Elena and her studio (@mindfulppl) as she encourages her community to explore the transformative power of meditation. We hope you were moved to #liveyourtruth.