Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reflections on 15 years in East Windsor

Last night in class I announced, "this is officially my last class teacher here," and then I felt it...for a fleeting moment. I've been so busy preparing the new studio in Hightstown Borough that I hadn't even realized the magnitude of this until I said it. Do not get me wrong, I am not sad to be leaving the studio location that I've had for the past ten years - its time has come. But this is truly an end of an era.

When I first began teaching, as some of you recall, I asked Darby Lines who owned "Full Circle Family Massage" on Rt. 571 if I could teach a few classes in her attic. This was in East Windsor. When I outgrew that place (after having moved into the basement for a few years), I found my first spot in an above office space in Royal Plaza on Rt. 130 - in East Windsor. When I outgrew that, I relocated up the road to the 405 Rt. 130 location in the downstairs of East Windsor Flooring - also in East Windsor. My entire yoga teacher history is derived of various locations in and around this town. And now, that's over.

East Windsor has been an interesting area for promoting yoga over the years. Although we are a suburb, the town has a very commercial feel to it. There is no "town center" or borough and the neighborhoods are spaced apart in more private sections. When I began teaching in East Windsor, I lived in Plainsboro. I lived there for ten years until I met my husband and we decided to move to south jersey. Now for the past 11 years I have been commuting one hour to work. I'm not complaining about the drive - it actually give me some decompression time between home and the yoga studio. But given that there's not as much a neighborhood feel in my previous locations, I have felt a disconnect from the community in which my business is located.

Over the past month of decorating the new studio in Hightstown I have grown to love this little town. Every time I go into a new restaurant or store, someone tells me they know me from this person or that they've heard about me from another person. Many people in town know some of our teachers because many of our teachers also live in town. Students, teachers and even new people that I am meeting keep telling me how excited they are that they can soon walk to yoga! The borough has been very welcoming and my new landlord literally lives across the street from the studio. I am LOVING the hometown vibe!

Many people have asked me if I am sad about the move. My simple answer, "Nope." Really there is nothing to be sad about. This is a great move. It is only one mile down the road and in the same zip code, yet we now have a home town - a neighborhood - a fertile yoga community. Hightstown has many plans for improvements over the next couple of years and already new businesses are moving into the town and building up the energy and culture - and One Yoga Center is a big part of that too.

I do not want anyone from East Windsor to feel left out. I still recognize and love all of my current and future students - regardless of where they live or drive in from. And I am hoping that many continue to come into Hightstown for many, many years to come.

I am 47 years old. I left my corporate job in 2000 to do massage and teach yoga full time and I have never looked back. Yes, at times I have struggled, but I have always managed to make it through. I feel now like I am at a new place in my life. Perhaps this comes from age, wisdom and the like. Or maybe I have amassed enough knowledge of the practice through so many years of constant and complemented teaching. I think I finally feel like this is my profession and that I have so much to share with others as an experienced teacher who began teaching this practice way before the yoga BOOM that created this eclectic and somewhat vanilla yoga craze. (I have always felt that you cannot take the spirituality out of the yoga practice. If you do, then just call it exercise, please. End of soapbox). Either way I slice it, I feel like I am finally the yoga teacher that I have always wanted to be: one with depth, vision, compassion and expertise. But the best part is that it finally feels natural and authentic. I guess you could say this is the prime peak of my career as a yoga teacher and I am more than thrilled to be saying that!

With the move, One Yoga Center begins a new. But so do I. And these new beginnings begins on the day of the New Moon, Dec. 11th, 2015. Now how awesomely synchronistic is that?!

So, as I say good-bye to our old space and East Windsor, I welcome the changes and embrace the spaces that I now occupy: physically, mentally and spiritually. And I know from deep within that there is only good and positive things to come for me, One Yoga Center, and the greater community as a whole.

In Love, Service & Wisdom.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Month of Gratitude _/\_

Every year for November I post on social media a gratitude message for the day. It started as something to help me stay positive and grateful and turned into a yearly tradition that has inspired others to do the same. Here is my day of gratitude for 2015:

Every November I try to post daily Gratitudes. Nov. 1, I am grateful for so much today. With my husband being away I was able to create a nourishing weekend for my soul. I'm grateful for the quiet and deeply moving evening that I had last night - foregoing a party next door and other potential plans. I am grateful for today's "day off," - which seems like the first in a long time - so that I could catch up on some things around the house and even sleep in knowing that I had nothing that I had to do. I am grateful that my computer wanted to be cranky, forcing me to read a very important book that's been sitting on my shelf. I am grateful for my sanctuary in which to spend my day with my loyal pets by my side: Bodhi & Kali, always eagerly ready to follow me from room to room, showering me with love and companionship. Today I'm just truly happy and grateful to have had a little slice of peace and happiness - and I wish everyone the same simple thing. Namaste.

Nov 2 - today I am grateful for One Yoga Center (OYC), my amazing yoga studio & community of teachers and students. Am I a morning person? Those that know me know the answer to that. NO! But today I got up and happily drove in early on a Monday for the 9:30am class for probably the first time in like 12 years since I gave up teaching that morning class. In December I will take over teaching it full time again, to relieve Barbara Vecchione Gallucci so that she can make room for other things. I am blessed to have students who have been with me for so many years…and it was so good to see some of them this morning (Karin Rasmussen MitchellDebbie WarfieldSharon Joag). The yoga world has changed a lot since I first started my small little studio, yet I am so happy to continue to be able to teach others about yoga and the tremendous potential that you can tap into through the practice. It is with tremendous anticipation that I wait for the upcoming move to Hightstown Borough - infusing new energy into me and the studio. But if it weren't for a fractured spine and years of pain and limitations, and a dear friend (Suzy Alpin Fenton) who suggested I try yoga to help it, I wouldn't even be able to be grateful for OYC! So thank you to the Universe for "literally" breaking my back so that I could have this gift in my life that fills me up every day with gratitude. Namaste.

Nov. 3 - Today I am grateful that it is a beautiful day on November 3rd in NJ! Sunshine, warm breeze, and good vibrations. What else can we ask for, really? Keepin' it simple for today. Peace Out!

Nov. 4 - today I was reminded why I love our neighborhood so much and why we continue to manage the hour drive from work to home daily. I walk my dogs without a leash most of the time. They know where their doggie friends live and get excited to possibly visit. Today We rounded the block and I wave to one neighbor as he drives down the road. We cross the street and I text another neighbor a picture of his front yard and the gaping hole in it and we joke about making a lazy river and pond connecting our Yards. I stop at another neighbor's so the dogs can visit their doggy friend. As the dogs play I chat with him about the recent Guy's yearly football trip. Soon the women will have their annual cookie exchange, followed by a gift exchange. We head up the block and a neighbor's kid who is now driving waves to me and smiles. As we get closer to our house I wave to someone else who is working in their yard. A great neighborhood where, like "Cheers," everybody knows your name. Almost everyone is friendly and watches out for each other. We have fantasy football leagues, "yolf" games and our annual Oktoberfest party too. Just a great group of people who bonded over having the same crappy builder and continue to bond over being robbed blind by our taxes. "Deer Run" is our current day "Mayfair" and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. 

Nov. 5 - This morning's family text message started my day with a smile. Talk of Christmas, joking and connecting even though all four of us were in different locations. I always knew that I didn't want to give birth but I am blessed with two wonderful daughters despite myself. One wants to save the world - one cat at a time - and the other couldn't be more helpful and kind. I can't wait to see the women they fully mature into. And one day if we are really lucky, maybe we'll have some grandkids to spoil, fill up with chocolate and send home with percussion instruments. 

Nov. 6 - today's theme seemed to be "teachers." From Victoria & I trying to determine if we could plan a Peru trip around teacher's schedules to teacher training tonight with my advanced trainees. I hear a lot of complaining these days about teachers - on both ends of the stick. It's a shame. Did I have some "bad" teachers growing up? Maybe - depends on how you define "bad." Drunks, maybe a better word. But every one taught me something. After school days, I was blessed to have a mentor in the corporate world who taught me so much in the few years of him being my boss. If it were not for his untimely death I think I could have learned so much more from him. My first yoga teacher taught me more than yoga - she taught me how to come into my own personal power for the first time in my life, to embrace my limitations, but to not be limited by them. Baron Baptiste called me a rebel (I'm kind of proud of that). Rolf Gates told me I'm a natural teacher. the Goddess herself, Shiva Rea, taught me more about life, energy and embracing the divine feminine or "shakti" energy than I can put into words on FB. And let's not forget my friends, my family, and my "enemies," for they all continue to teach me so much every day - whether it is how to be loving or how to protect myself. Teachers are everywhere. Some are good. Some are REALLY good. And the ones who challenge you the most are the best. So the next time you find yourself complaining about a teacher - or anyone in your life - take a moment to figure out what the lesson is for you there…because there's guaranteed to be one. From one teacher to another.

Nov. 7 - beyond gratitude is Bhakti - pure love & devotion for the Divine. One way to express this is through sacred sounds and chanting. How very lucky are we to have a Kirtan explosion happening right now?! Krishna Das performed at the Grammy's a few years ago for Shiva's sake! Tonight I get to see him perform again...this is either my 6th or 7th time kirtaning with "the man." From the first note of the Hanuman Chalisa I am hooked - filled with emotion and love. Blessed beyond blessed to be able to share this with good friends and to have this method available in which to dig deeper into the soul and it's pure essence.

Nov. 8 - It is actually November 25th, but I went back through my days of gratitude and realized that I totally missed November 8th! I don't want that day to feel left out. I love the number 8 - turned on its side it represents "Infinity." In Numerology the number 8 represents balance and karmic debts being paid. It represents success, prosperity and integrity of character, so I certainly don't want to miss November 8th! This would be a good time to say that I am grateful for Karma. I have always been one of those lucky people with relatively quick karma pay-backs. Whenever I did something less than nice, it always came back on me quickly. When I was younger and did something I wasn't supposed to, I got caught right away and got in trouble. I wasn't ever a mean kid or did many bad things, and this may be another reason why. Karma has always been there screaming at me and guiding me to be a better person. Now that I am more aligned to positive energy, this karma is a good thing and I often see the rewards coming my way. Some people say it is easy to be bad. Not for me. It's a lot easier to be good, especially with karma there guiding the way. Blessings to Karma.

Nov. 9 - Grateful for real, true friends today. Not the kind that come and go, judge you or like you for what you can do for them; rather, the ones that you might have a disagreement with or may challenge you at times, but at other times lift you up, support you and are there for you no matter what. I am lucky enough to have some of these friends in my life…and it never gets old - you know who you are. 

Nov. 10 - today I am grateful for cleansing rain on this dark moon night, washing away what no longer is needed, creating closure and making room for unknown blessings to come flowing in.

11:11 - How could I possibly let the day go by without acknowledging this powerful shift that we are so privileged to be a part of! If you've been attuned to the 11:11, then you know for what I'm speaking of. If not, then watch out, because if you're reading this still then you're going to start seeing it - over and over...and then you'll want - NEED - to know more. I want to acknowledge my guru on this Ascension, Solara Anani, who had been teaching this information and anchoring the energy to our planet for many years. I hope to visit her beautiful sanctuary in Peru again and continue to learn more about how to move gracefully through his shift or consciousness as well as to help others align to its energy.

Nov. 12 - I was about to post my gratitude for today when FB was kind enough to show me what I posted 2 years ago. I thought it profound enough to share again today:
Gratitude comes in many forms. Last night I had a memory of someone that hurt me deeply. Today I am grateful for the lessons that I learned through this person, for they have made me stronger, my vision more clear, and opened me up to higher truths.
Nov. 13 - (yes, I'm posting this a day early because I'm taking the day off tomorrow ) so grateful for these two guys for putting my sign up at the new place in the rain! My wonderful hubby Scott Brown was sick but still dug the holes and my good friend Mark Fenton for making this beautiful sign and helping on the install too. Drive by if you're in town and check it out!

Nov. 14 - Today I received the first two deposits for One Bliss's Peruvian Adventure retreat this coming September. I am so blessed to be able to put two of my favorite things together: yoga and traveling. For me it's not work, because I enjoy it all so much. I am incredibly grateful for my sister in this life and many others, Victoria Purcell, who first had the idea to work together on this yoga retreat company. We compliment each other well yet share the same ideals and integrity to our mission of offering once-in-a-lifetime trips incorporating yoga, spirituality, mindful travel and "seva," giving back to the local communities that we visit. Even though the world seems to be getting smaller all the time, there's nothing better than expanding your awareness by exploring foreign lands, ancient temples and experiencing other cultures. If more people appreciated these differences and embraced other ways of living, we may actually achieve world peace in our lifetime.

Nov. 15 - Many years ago I was told by a "psychic" that I would always have "enough" and although times would sometimes be tight, I would never live in poverty. I decided that day to believe that and not worry. Not that I put my faith in her, but rather I put my faith in myself and my higher power within to keep that intention. Today as I sold off a lot of my private and business property at a yard sale event at the studio and watched as many of my possessions walked out the door, that I have, in fact, much more than "enough." I filled my car with remaining items and dropped them off for donation after the event. And there's still more! I thought that I might be sad to see so much of my things go, but that wasn't the case at all. I am grateful that I chose to believe that the Universe would always provide. But I also work really hard for it too. In fact I think I realized today that I may be a good thing for me my work is yoga! But what I'm really here to say is that I'm grateful that I always seem to have what I need - by whatever means I seem to acquire it - and all because I choose to believe that I always will. And this goes for much more than personal property - that's really the least of it. Hmm, so maybe what I'm most grateful for today is my power to truly believe and trust: Faith.

Nov. 16 - When my Grandmother's health was failing this summer I started making mala beads. I never thought that I would do something like that, but making the beads helped me find a little peace in between running to and from the nursing home. And people seemed to really respond to the beads too. When she did pass, I took some of her personal beads, broke them up, and made little bracelets for all the kids and grandkids in the family - so they could all have a little piece of Grandmom, always. I continued to make the beads for a little while, but then life got busy again and I put them away. Today I sat and created 30+ bracelets. After the long week preparing for yesterday's big yard sale and fighting away my husband's cold for several weeks, I finally succumbed to one myself today. My mind needed a rest and so did my body, but making the malas was a great way to spend my day. The dogs got to lie down on the floor with me, the creation is a meditation for me, and in the end I have some beautiful pieces to roll out at the new studio. Meditation comes in many forms. It isn't just sitting there still, trying not to think. In fact, if you try that, you are guaranteed to be disappointed. In fact, there are many pathways to meditation. For me one way is making mala beads. So I am very grateful for this mediation practice...because my active gemini mind needs an active meditation practice to carve out a little slice of piece.

Nov. 17 - today I am grateful that tomorrow is another day. Clearly many have lost their minds may they get laid tonight and wake up happier, healthier and a whole lot wiser. Om Shanti.

Nov 18 - today I am grateful for humor. Laughter is a great stress release and also a good ego-checker. One of my teachers stresses taking yourself lightly and not seriously - both on and off the mat. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. Next time there's a situation where you want to yell, fight, cry or scream - try laughing instead. Notice the physical change in your body and mind when you laugh out loud. Have a fully belly laugh every now and then - laugh until you cry to release stored emotions and notice how free you feel. Instead of being offended at every little thing, try laughing a little. Watch the Dalai Lama talk - whenever he is asked a question, he giggles first before answering (he giggles more the more serious the question posed is too). Yes, there are valid struggles in life and there always will be. But cut it some slack and have a good's good for your immune system to boot! And in class when you fall out of an asana, laugh! Lift your vibrations by taking life a little lighter. Give it a whirl and see what happens!

Nov. 19 - today I am grateful for one personal change that I've recently realized I've made. I used to think that I had to take on everyone's situation and personally try to fix it. And while I still do wish that I could - because it sincerely pains me to see people that I love hurting - I realize that I am not here to "fix" anything. In fact, how very egotistical of me to even think that I should? Everyone is on their own journey, has to make his/her own mistakes and empower them self to rise above. Here's what I can do: I can listen. I can sometimes provide support. I can usually make you laugh to forget your Story for a moment. And I can take you on another journey through a yoga practice where you might find your own answers or get in touch with your own inner strength or intuition. Like my father, I feel privileged that people feel safe confiding in me and that I can sometimes help in some way. But I can't "fix" anything but my own shit...and some days that seems pretty damn impossible too. We are all struggling with something - and somehow there is comfort in that. Grateful for this little bit of wisdom.

Nov. 20 - Yesterday a new friend from Peru commented on a photo of mine. Today I spoke with another friend in Thailand via email. I have a student who lives in Greece, family living in Mexico, new friends in Australia, another friend in the peace corps in Cambodia, and another acquaintance who owns a villa in France. Soon I'll be meeting people in India. I love to travel and to meet new people. But what I love the most is that I make true friends around the globe and it makes the world feel that much more closely connected. With all of the fear about many foreign lands, I like to uphold the energy of brotherhood and sisterhood. People all over the world are really the same. Maybe their climate is different, but we all have the same issues. We are pretty luck here in our country - not that everyone sees that. Our lives are fairly simple and even the "poor" here have more than in a lot of other places. But its interesting that the people who I meet that have the least, seem to be pretty happy folks and just fine with their meager livings. The simplicity makes life a little easier - there's less to worry about, after all! What I'm saying is that I really get a thrill when I communicate with someone in another country. I am grateful that my "world" is so inclusive of other cultures and places because it keeps my mind open and more informed. And while I am not irrational about the posing "threats" from those who would want to harm us, I don't allow myself to become immobilized by that and generalize all of a group of people because of them. What we ALL need is more friends around the globe and promote bigger messages of friendship and peace across the planet. I have a bucket list to visit every country in the world before I die and to make at least one friend there. I have a long way to go, but I'm working on it! Will you join me?

Nov. 21 - I know it may seem early but with everything happening I wanted to do our OYC holiday party early. Unfortunately not all of our teachers were available but many came out to break bread. I made custom Mala beads for everyone and then we went to the new studio and broken them in and chanted the Ganesha mantra 108 times. The vibrations in the building as we chanted were so beautiful. I could feel the space being blessed by all this amazing folks and it meant so very much to me. Grateful, so, so grateful for their presence today and every day that they grace the space At OYC - no matter where that space is!

Nov. 22 - so much to be grateful for today. I could go on forever. Spent the day painting and preparing the new studio and it's looking great! Little by little it all comes together but I really want to say that there are four women in my life that I am extremely grateful for: my circle sisters, and they know who they are. Some friends come and go, some stick around for the good times, and others may offer to help you through the tough times. But there are some friends that go beyond even the term "friend." These people you share a common bond with that can never be broken. These are the kind of people that you never have to question the pure love for each other. There is a spiritual connection that transcends time and linear ways with them. These are the people that you can bare you soul to and never be judged. These are the ones that allow you to truly realize what the term "oneness" feels like...and that's who I got to spend my day with. Most of them are not on FB nor will ever see this nor will ever care if there was a shout out to them - because they already know all that they need to. What a blessing for these four women in my life. 

Nov. 23 - Today I had a full belly laugh because of my husband. I don't always get to say how much I appreciate him. Sometimes he drives me crazy and I'm fairly certain he will be the cause of my early demise one day, but I love him. He has true integrity - something that is hard to come by these days. He is dedicated to his family. He is incredibly supportive to me, my journey and my businesses - even if he doesn't really "get" them in full. But most of all I love how he makes me laugh when he is being a goofball. If someone can give you a full on belly laugh because they're not afraid to be goofy, man that's love. Thanks honey, our 11th year married has been the best so far and I love you more every day.

Nov. 24 - I'm not sure where it came from but I have an uncanny ability to focus and stay grounded. This is coming in handy with all the work going into the new studio while keeping the old studio going and doing major downsizing. There is so much to do in a short period of time and, as usual, I find myself burning the candle at both ends. I will nurture and rest - I'm managing a little bit, but once the move is done and in I plan on doing it a lot more. Today I am grateful that I have this ability to work, focused, and remember to take deep breaths and stay grounded with so much up in the air. Thank you, first chakra, for being my solid!

Nov. 25 - Full Moon represents complete manifestation. It is the brightest light that we can see in the night sky, representing light within the darkness. So many years ago I was indoctrinated into the mysteries of the moon and its energies and I have let it guide me on my journey for a long time now. I am grateful to have aligned myself with this creative goddess energy because it has helped me stay in tune with the sacred in my every day and when I am aligned to its cycles I find that life flows with a lot less effort. Tonight's full moon corresponds with a week where I began decorating and moving into my new yoga studio, and in two weeks at the New Moon, which represents New Beginnings, I will open the space. As the moon wanes over this time period, I will be letting go of the old space, an old way of doing business, old habits and ways that have long needed to move out, and releasing all the "stuff" that doesn't serve my light and the ability to shine bright, like the moon herself, guiding bothers through their own darkness. Namaste, Moon! 

Nov. 26 - Happy Thanksgiving! Every year we host for both of our families. Not every year everyone can make it. Some years we have had over 30 and others just 6. This year I believe the count is 18. We will be missing some key family at he table this year, but they are all in our hearts and thoughts. We will remember the family that has passed and in gratitude appreciate those who are still with us. Some say you can't chose your family but I don't believe that. I believe you chose your family before you reincarnate so that you can work out your karma with those beings...and perhaps this explains the sometimes challenges that you go through with them. Either way, family may know how to push your emotional buttons, but they're also the ones who are always there for you in the greatest time of need. Grateful for my family: both immediate and extended. And looking forward to a nice afternoon at home with all as we kick off the holiday season.

Nov. 27 - When you make an appointment and they give you a 5 hour window, we have grown accustomed to thinking the worst. This time I decided to think the best, then let it go. It worked! Verizon showed up at 10:30am instead of my 1-5 window, installed while I wasn't there, I got back and plugged all my stuff in and it worked! No hassle, no fuss! OH, and I saved money going to fios from dsl…wow. Blown away. Technician didn't even want me to put in a good word for him. In his words, "they don't care." Well I do and I am grateful to the unknown man who got it all done and the energies that brought him in. Grateful for realizing when to stop plugging into negative collective consciousness and remake my own positive ones, then giving it up to the Universe. Life is good when you put your mind to making it good!

Nov 28 - grateful for small towns and being a part of two of them now - for home and work. I'm meeting so many awesome people just walking around. It's amazing when you smile and say hello to someone where that can sometimes go. 

Nov. 29 - I'm doing this one early. Grateful for a day off! Brief check of the calendar confirms, first day with nothing planned since Oct. 2nd. Today I've already accomplished more around the house since before then. I said I was sitting on the couch watching football all day, but that's not gonna happen. Maybe for a couple of hours. What I am grateful for is not to have to drive anywhere today and to be able to putter around my house doing little things at my own pace and leisure. Hey, maybe I'll even get in a yoga practice later!

Nov. 30 - Purpose. Grateful to have a purpose. It is fulfilling to know every day the things that I do have depth and meaning behind them. Even the past month's gratitude log gave me something daily to align myself to and keep positive energy flowing for myself and others. So even though November is coming to a close I know that December will prove to be just as fulfilling - or maybe even more so. 🙏 4 Purpose. Namaste.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Honoring those who Have Passed On (Samhain/All Soul's Day/Day of the Dead)

Most of us have people who have left our lives and crossed over. Whether you believe they are in heaven, have reincarnated, or are in another dimension, no doubt you have thought often about them, where they may be. Often when a loved one departs this world, we are left feeling empty and sad. Sometimes this feeling moves on with relative ease, and at other times we can go through a challenging period in our life trying to reconcile the feelings, find closure, or make amends. In the end, we all just want to know that our loved ones are in a good place and have only good and loving thoughts for us.

This time of year is the perfect time to reflect on those who have passed on. All Hallow's Eve, originally called Samhain (pronounced saah-win or saa-ween) means "Summer's End," and is an ancient holiday celebrating the final harvest, winter's approach, and so is a festival of the dead. It is said that this time the veil between world's is the thinnest, and is the best time of the year to try and make contact with loved ones and those passed on.

As many of you already know, my Grandmother passed away just a few short months ago. This week I cultivated a lot of energy around communing with her and honoring her. It started with a short meditation and ritual last Sunday (10/25) and then to more meditations Monday - Wednesday. Wednesday evening, after a long meditation for my Grandmom, I walked over to a jewelry dresser that I use every day and found on top the mala bracelet that I had made using some crystals from one of her necklaces. It had been "Lost" since her services and I'd turned the house and car inside out and upside down...and alas, there it was in plain site, where it had not been before. That night I slept with that bracelet and a skeleton key under my pillow in a protected satchel and had a prophetic dream involving my Grandmother as well. Last night (10/29) I went into Philadelphia with a friend to see a well-known Medium. In a room full of probably 200 people, only 10 received messages...and my Grandmother came through as the 3rd or 4th one of them - loud and clear, concise and without a second thought that it was her.

The veil is thin, indeed.

Tomorrow night is October 31 - All Hallow's Eve (Celtic: Samhain, Mexican: Day of the Dead). Then November 2nd comes, known as the "All Soul's Day," a Christian holiday of remembrance for the souls of the dead. So whether you are Christian, Celtic, Pagan or have other beliefs, we can all agree to honor our ancestors and loved ones who have parted this time of year.

Some people have asked how to properly do this. Well, I feel that you must do what feels right to you, first of all. If you have a particular religion or spirituality, move from that energy using rituals that feel comfortable to you. If you are open, then here are a couple of simple techniques:

1. Light a candle. Get a black candle and set it up in front of a picture of your dearly departed, and if you have a small personal item of theirs it is also nice to place that on your alter with the candle. Take a moment to think of them in the best light possible. Light the candle saying their name out loud, then spend some time in quiet contemplation on your loved one. Don't blow the candle out...let it go out on its own.

2. Visit final resting place of your loved one, placing fresh flowers and cleaning off the site. Spend some time in quiet contemplation before moving on.

3. Bonfire Releasing Ceremony - if you are still holding on to the person who has passed in some painful way, maybe it is time to fully release them. Create a bonfire in a safe place, and put any personal affects of the loved on into the fire and watch them burn and turn to ash. Ask for support from the Universe in releasing your loved one from your heart, with love. If you do not have any personal items, you can write them a letter, and burn it in the fire. Quiet time as the items burn is important and also some time to reflect or cry after.

4. Dinner for the Dead. Prepare a table with black tablecloth, plates and utensils. Eat seasonal items, and save an open place at the table for the deceased. You can bring a picture of them to the table if you like. Only use candlelight, and eat in quiet with your deceased. When you are finished you can read a prayer or blessing for the departed.

How do you know if your dearly departed is communicating with you? Look for the signs. They are all around us. Synchronistic events are not coincidence. Lights may flicker, you may have a dream about them, you may think that you feel their presence, missing items may show up, magical things can happen and for some people you may even hear or see them. This is not meant to be a total list, but rather just some ideas. Use your innate intuition, which is also heightened this time of year. Like anything, if you put your energy into honoring someone who has passed on, then they will in some way let you know that they are with you.

Last but not least, do not be afraid of this energy. This is the natural cycle of life. We all are birthed into life and at some point we all die. At the end of the day we are all energy, so how could that energy cease to be when we leave our body? We just take on another form...or become formless! We return to our original state: Divine Light.

So if you want to honor some loved ones who have departed, do it now. They will be listening. And if you are too, then you will commune with them?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Peruvian Adventure - Pt. III: Lake Titicaca & Bolivia

Having returned from Peru a month ago, I have found it very difficult to sit down and talk or write about the later end of our trip, which took us south to Lake Titicaca and then into Bolivia. I did not want to rush into this blog or what I might say, and as time goes on, I realize that I am still a little unclear as to what I felt during this time.

To say that the last leg of the trip was a challenge is an understatement. Having come off of an exhilarating and tremendously spiritual journey in Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley, we journeyed for 10 hours in a bus from Cusco to Puno, Peru, with me being sick the entire time. My energy exchange the last day in Sacred Valley had led me to a purging and cleansing. It may have been a blessing to spend the day on the bus, quietly resting, instead of journeying around outside. Fortunately there was a bathroom on the bus, and some stops in which to lie down or get fresh air. But in its entirety, it was not an easy ride. I felt a little guilty for not being able to talk much with my companion, Victoria, but hoped that she understood that I was not myself this day. It is sometimes very nice to sit quietly next to someone, but not feeling the need to talk.

I tried not to allow myself to be in my head on the ride down. I tried to really sleep and rest and not think. There was definitely a sense of letting go...what exactly I was releasing was on multiple levels. However, by the time we reached Puno, I was feeling, on a whole, much better than I had the rest of the day.

Lake Titicaca view from the hotel
Our hotel sat on the banks of the legendary Lake Titicaca (or Titikaka, depending on what you read). The legends of this expansive waterway are interesting, to say the least. The Incans believe it is the birthplace of life. Some will say it is an intergalactic portal for space travel. But for many, it is just another way of life, one that is fully present and connected to the earth, the water, and God.

There is a sense, a feeling, that you get on the banks of the lake. A sense of something bigger - that is for sure. At times this felt ominous. At other times contented. But all of the time a sense of omnipresence.

We left our trusted guide Jorge Luiz Delgado for these parts unknown. As he reminded us often, it was a lesson in trusting. We were met at the bus station by another Jorge and then driven to the hotel with a third Jorge (the next day when our driver spoke no English and had a different name, I was hard pressed to remember it). Jorge #2, let's call him, took us to our hotel and helped us check in and get settled. There was a discrepancy with our itinerary and Bolivia, so we were attempting to work that out with he, the hotel, and Jorge Delgado. Again, we were reminded to trust. In the end the itinerary worked out, but there was a little confusion on our part, however. Partly because of our poor Spanish skills, which collectively should have been much better, and partly because of the energy of this place that was begging us to let go even more.

View for the "Dreaming" ceremony on Uros Floating Island
Our first full day on the lake took us to the Uros floating islands. These amazing people live on reeds that float on the lake. They pay no taxes and live off the island and bartering with other villages. They live simply and are a quite hardy stock of people. We experienced a "Dreaming Ceremony" here. Lying on a reed boat, floating in the lake, we were guided on a meditation to recall our fears and negative emotions from the past and just be with them. I didn't have to think at all. Almost immediately three things came to me, which I will keep for myself. We blew 3 coca leaves, 3 times into the lake and asked Pacha Mama to release our fears and negative emotions. As I lied down, I repeated these three negative emotions over and over until they started feeling further and further away, eventually until I found myself unable to remember them at all! Since the words no longer came to my mind, I envisioned a rope tied to each one of them in the water, not unlike the way the floating islands are anchored down. One by one I cut the rope and allowed the negativity to float away. And I felt it go.

Our next stop was to Tequile Island where we did a "Rebirthing Ceremony." Like with our "Dreaming Ceremony," we were first cleansed with flower water and then told to meditate on rebirthing for one hour, and to come up with a new name for ourself. At first I was a little intimated given a one hour timeframe for meditation. I wondered if I would be able to keep my Gemini mind quiet that long. I had been wearing a set of mala beads that I had made for myself for my trip to Peru and I hadn't yet broken them in. I figured this was the perfect time and began with one round of 108 to "I am that." The second round of 108 changed to "I am." And the third round "Love, Service, Wisdom." After my japa mantras, I was stunned at with what clarity I was able to clearly see my new self. And then my name came...and then another name...WHAT!?!? Mind kicked in, "I can't have two names!" In fact, on the way walking up to the meditation site, I had a thought of one of the names before we even sat down. I let it go feeling it was my mind creating it. But when it came to me the second time, I realized it was more than that. My two names are: Lunara and Trakara. When asked to give my name, I went with Lunara. I am a Moon Girl, after all! But there is a ring to Trakara too. I'll have to spend some more time with each to see which one resonates with me more.

The day was perfect. Again I felt another wave of energy come over me as I let go of my old self and set upon a continued discovery of new energy in the guise of love, service, and wisdom. But could that all stay with me as we left for Bolivia? Well, I was about to find out.

If Peru is the place of the gods where spirits are lifted and consciousness elevated, then Bolivia is the place that challenges one's faith and tests the soul. For me, this arduous journey began with a challenging morning when Victoria woke up very sick and not sure if she would be able to travel. What did this mean? What were our options? Would she need medical attention? So many questions flooded my morning as I headed downstairs for breakfast to let her sleep a little and hopefully and miraculously feel better. On my way upstairs I met our guide, Jorge, in the lobby and broke the potentially bad news to him. He traveled up to our room with me, where Victoria was awake, packed and up, but not feeling well at all. I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do, but she said she wanted to go. And so we were off.

I had lost a day of travel to Puno feeling ill and cleansing, and now Victoria was battling her own energies on a day of long travel - tit for tat, is that what they say? So knowing that she needed to rest, I tried to keep to myself and watch the travel unfold. We began with a long journey by bus to the area around the Bolivian border, where we left our trusted driver and headed to parts unknown. The landscape was rustic and barren, with broken up and abandoned looking cement structures that had iron jutting out from the top. Were these buildings half finished or in the process of being taken down? Who knows. We didn't speak the language well enough to get around, and we had really no idea where we were. We clung to our guide Jorge for safe passage, but were alerted that at the border we had to enter on our own, as the Bolivian government was intolerant to Peruvian guides bringing people in. Oh, and did I mention that Bolivia doesn't like the USA? Yea, so there was that.

Before leaving for our trip we had to get a yellow fever shot. I had a site reaction to said shot and thought, momentarily, that I was dying. Gladly, I did not die with the shot, but I should have seen the foreboding of this trip. We were also told that we could get our visas at the border - no problem. Have passport photos, passport, application, and about $65 american dollars. We were NOT told that the american dollars had to be in mint condition (the littlest tear or marking makes them invalid), and it was unknown that the Bolivian border would be so unrelentingly difficult in allowing us in. Flash forward nearly 3 hours, a million photo copies of documents acquired via email from a local vendor, and a whopping $160 entry fee, we were finally granted permission to go into Bolivia...with a one year visa! We almost didn't make it in. He had to let me use Peruvian money and let us slack on our hotel confirmation once we provided him with our air itinerary proving we were leaving via Peru soon. Victoria was sick. Jorge had to space himself from us. I was nervously trying to figure out what we needed. And emotions were definitely heightened and strained. But alas, we were granted entry.

It is interesting to note that we met up with two Aussie friends at the border who were given swift passage with one quick look at their Australian passports, while we Americans had a very different experience of entry. So now we are inside Bolivia, knowing that their government dislikes our country and hardly wanted us there, and I have this moment of fear that I immediately ignore so that it does not grow into anything more. I just decided to trust, and let it go.

As we travel to the lakeside town of Copacabana, there is a dichotomy between the stressors we are feeling and the elation that we are nearing closer to the birthplace of man. But there was much more in store for us this day, so after a brief lunch and rest in Copacabana, we board a very small vessel and travel on Lake Titicaca to Moon and Sun Islands. Victoria smartly lies down to rest. I decide to go up on top of the boat for a while and enjoy the view. Myths and stories of the lake flood my memory as we slowly move along the water. My polarized sunglass lenses reveal to me gold and magenta flakes in the water from time to time, and only when we seem to be traveling along a certain line. And as I continue to try and see what this pattern is trying to reveal to me, I realize that the many mysteries of Lake Titicaca, may have to remain just that. So I just enjoy these sparkles when I see them, take in the ride, and sometimes enjoy conversations with Jorge along the way.

Me at Moon Temple
Our arrival to Moon Island is greeted with much less fanfare than Tequile and Uros. We seem to be the only tourists in the area at this time of day, having lost much time at the border earlier. But to this we welcome. There is a temple on Moon Island where the Incan Virgins went to study. It is beautiful and magical. This is the island where the first woman is said to come from, so Jorge tells us, "this is YOUR island." We perform a short ritual holding hands to remove negative energy and emotions, again using flower water to cleanse us and blowing 3 coca leaves and giving them to pacha mama. Jorge also chanted and did some energy work around us while we held hands. Then he gave us some time to meditate before we had to leave. The visit was too short, but we still had to make it to Sun Island, and the day was waning. I would have liked to have spent more time in meditation on Moon Island, but it was not in the cards for us this day. I did feel much more grounded and present with a greater feeling of contentment after our visit to the temple than I had from the earlier part of our day. The long journey by boat probably also helped me relax into the moment, but the Island also felt quite serene and special. Surprisingly, a hostel sat just below the sacred grounds of the temple, on the cliffside, and we both thought how amazing it would be to spend a night right here...but perhaps another time...we do have a year visa, after all!

Sun Island sacred site, a woman and her flock!
As we embarked to Sun Island I quickly noticed the change in energy. The winds began to pick up and the sun was hinting of going down. The tiny vessel cruised along slowly and when we finally came to our port on the other side of Sun Island it was a mad rush to get on top. Luckily I grabbed my hat and gloves for the journey. The wind was whistling and we met a Bolivian film crew at the top who were there to film a shamanic ceremony around the very same sacred place that we were looking to perform our own ritual. We waited against the rocks and watched as two different women walked through with their flocks of sheep. It was nearly 25 minutes and the film crew didn't look any closer to getting rolling, so we went up to the stone alter and began a despacho ceremony. The wind blew the alter cloth to and fro and we had to gather some local rocks to hold it down. When that didn't work, we had to lean against the cloth. Then the shamans started to surround us. And then the film crew began asking us how much longer we would be there. This was no private ceremony. Again, the dichotomy between the sacredness of the ceremony with the circle of shamans surrounding us and the technological influence of the film crew and their drone equipment split me in half. Part of me felt privileged to be there at this sacred place performing this very intimate ceremony, while the other part of me just wanted to wrap it up and run down the mountain.

Dusk was in full swing as we finally departed down the mountain towards our tiny vessel. Winds howling and frigid temperatures pinching my skin, we raced against the waning sun like the last scene in Coppola's Bram Stokers Dracula! Jorge carried our precious cargo from the ceremony and promised to release it into the lake on our way back to our evening sanctuary. But by now the waves on the lake had increased to large swells, rocking the boat and causing us to break out into a little rendition of the theme to Gilligan's Island, which we then had to explain to Jorge. There were moments during this voyage where, again, fear crept in. I had to brace myself more than a few times as the tiny ship was tossed. Jorge did manage to release the wrapped cargo into the lake as we pulled closer to our port.

We, of course, made it to our destination. A tiny village on Sun Island where we would spend our evening. The guest house overlooked the lake, had no hot water or heat. The temperature was in the 40's, so after dinner, I wrapped myself into more layers of clothing (including my wool hat and scarf from Peru), tossed my scarf over the window for privacy, and jumped into bed for the night. It took me some time to get warm enough to fall asleep and our morning journey was another early one. But I knew that after the hour plus journey back to Copacabana via boat, that we had another 5 hours of auto travel in which to reach our next destination: Tiwanaku.

There are so many little details of the trip that I cannot express in one blog. The nuances and energies of these places is so difficult to share amongst a travel log. The theme for me with Bolivia seemed to keep going back to survival fears. Being there and moving about had quite a primal feeling for me. At each turn from start to finish on this journey there were omens, energetic road blocks, and terrifying situations - all surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring places and experiences. I realized when I am connected with the earth, I trust and feel safe. And when I am not connected and more in my mind that the fear creeps in. So I attempted to stay safely out of my mind as much as possible!

Again on our long journey to Tiwanaku, we were thrust into a car with an unknown Bolivian spanish speaking driver (our trusted Jorge was with us), an old car, and unpaved roadways they called "short-cuts." At some points I thought our car was going to drive off the cliffside like on the old SNL skit "Toonces the Driving Cat." At one point we almost hit a woman crossing the road in a town because he just didn't slow down. I thought how much my husband would have enjoyed the ride - and even more so if he could drive it himself. Perhaps all of his driving gymnastics had prepared me for the ride along the Bolivian countryside because, although definitely crazy, I was not so much scared. I did have many fleeting thoughts to the theme of, "This is how people go missing," however. But, no, press on and keep out of the head, sister!

And so we arrive in Tiwanaku, an ancient city and current archeological zone sitting at 13,000 feet above sea level (the highest ancient city in the world) that historians date to about 400 A.D. But that is not what drew us to this city, it was a more recent theory that Tiwanaku is actually potentially the oldest city in the world - quite possibly some 15,000 years old. The research seems to suggest varied different views amongst scientists about the actual date of Tiwanaku, so who knows for sure? All I can do is tell you how I felt when I was there and what I saw and experienced: monolithics, unexplained precision cut stones, the elaborate doorway known as the "Gate of the Sun," which is believed to be a calendar, 7 chakra stones that when held emit a vibration that you can feel at different frequencies and in specific energy centers of your body, temple walls that boast the many different faces of man from all over this world - and beyond, temples that have yet to be unearthed and explored, the oldest Chakana (Incan Cross, representing the upper, middle and lower worlds) ever found, monuments and temples aligned to the sun and other celestial events, a general sense that the Bolivian government does not want you to know very much about this historical site, and the intersection point of several major energy grid lines or "Ley" lines where electromagnetic fluctuations have been proven to occur and along which all of the major temples of the ancients in the entire world lie.

When we placed a compass on one of the stones in Tiwanaku, it changed direction rapidly and constantly. Energy was certainly cruising around there! Were we able to definitively acquire more information about the site? No. But you could definitely feel the energy and could sense the mechanics of some higher source at work. Maybe one day we will unearth more discoveries about Tiwanaku, but for our journey, we still had to drive hours back to the Peruvian border, cross over, and head yet another hour or so to our hotel.

One last flash of fear came as we approached the border. What if they don't let us back in? Then I let it go...and ran over the border.

As I look back at the entire trip as a whole, I see how I slowly journeyed away from the external, into my self, awakened energy, elevated my consciousness, and then had my faith tested over and over again. Did I pass with flying colors? Not a chance. But I passed (I always was a consistent "B" student). Which brings me to the question of faith...what is that for me, exactly? I teach yoga and have an affinity for the Hindu pantheon. I have a deep appreciation for the Buddhist teachings. I was baptized Methodist. And I have personally practiced earth-based spirituality my whole adult life. So what do I believe? I believe in the powers of the earth, the elements, the sun, moon and stars. And I believe that as a part of those energies, that when I align to them, I am connected to the "One" source and thus have the ability to cruise with relative ease through the varied terrain of life. I've realized that the closest western definition to this is: Shamanism. And although I bow to the shamans I have met and worked with over the many years of my journeys, I can honestly and truthfully finally step into the role of one as I continue my spiritual path.

So here I am: Shaman, Healer, Yogini, Seeker. Call me what you wish - I never liked labels. What I am is a vessel of light living on this earth in this body and just trying to do my best and help others. I hope to bring many people to Peru with me to explore their own awakenings. But Bolivia? I'm not sure that many folks are ready for that yet. But when they are, I'm sure that I will be called to bring them there too. And when the spaceships finally come up from the depths of Lake Titicaca, then that will be a much better mode of travel than the path we took! Have I lost my mind entirely? God, I hope so!

In Love, Service and Wisdom.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Peruvian Adventure - Pt. II: Shamanism & Energies of Peru

L to R: Tracey = the Puma, Jorge - the Condor, Victoria = the Snake
The energy of Peru is undeniable. Wedged between the south Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, spread amongst energy vortexes and ley lines, there is a palpable reality that this place is and has always been sacred land.

The people of the Andes area refer to all human beings as "Children of the Sun." The great mother (mother earth) is referred to as "Pachamama." And then there is "Father Sun." And there are many legends that accompany Incan and pre-Incan times.  But they all come back to the same theme - connecting to nature, the earth, animals, and the elements. Many of the themes we learned mimic those from yoga too. The least of which is the connection between the colors of the rainbow and the chakras, which there are many ceremonies in which to activate these same energy centers.

The guide on any spiritual journey in the Andes is the "Shaman." Similar to the priest, the shaman uses natural energy to guide one deeper into the self and thus the understanding and connection to the cosmos. A shaman helps one heal from physical and emotional wounds as well as elevate the consciousness. Our spiritual guide through our Peruvian journey is a man named Jorge Luis Delgado. He is a known as a "chacaruna" or bridge person. This is someone who helps others cross from the mind to the heart, and connect to different worlds and past, present or future. And although he does not dress as a typical shaman or was brought up in the tradition to be one, that pretty much is his calling.

Jorge speaks of the Sun, Pachamama, Children of the Sun, the Snake, Puma and Condor, and many other Andean mythos in such a way that you are drawn to be quiet and understand these concepts in such a bigger way than the mind can divulge. He led us to sacred power places where we performed rituals and ceremonies to open our energy, our heart, increase our vibrations, let go of past hurts and issues, and open up to unlimited love and expansion.

Jorge talked to us in length about the times that we are living in. These glorious times in which we have been given the opportunity in which to awaken. He discussed fear of change and how in the Inca world there is no fear but instead they view change as a spiritual time. Right now in this time we are living in the "New Sunrise," a time when all Children of the Sun can comprehend  from the heart and from higher levels of consciousness and can awaken to the true Inca Laws of: Love, Service, and Wisdom. These true laws are beyond time and perhaps more important today than ever.

In Jorge's book Andean Awakening he explains:
       "Now, in the New Sunrise, is a time for all people to become fully aware and see all things in the light of the New Day. We are being called to an expanded and unique way of living as individual rays of the other Father Sun. So, all people,  from all traditions, can increase their enjoyment and experience of life every day. As we start to fully experience and know the authentic spiritual self, a new dream and a new spiral of abundance and prosperity also awakens. The Sunrise brings the new state of consciousness. This spiritual activation is taking place within each person's own belief system and in traditions all over the world."

I was astounded by the simplicity of the meditations, yet the depth of the experience.

We began our trip at Machu Picchu, the abandoned Incan Citadel, who's real purpose is still clouded in some mystery. The 4 am wake up call comes early in this altitude, but we trek out with hundreds of others who also want to see the sun rise above the great mountain. Jorge teaches us a simple mudra, or hand gesture, whereby we create a triangle with our hands by holding them out in front of us with our thumbs and index fingers touching. This represents the three-fold blessing of Love, Service and Wisdom. We align this with our 3rd eye as we welcome in the morning Sun and allow ourselves to feel the blessings of just being alive this day.

My backyard stone at our sacred place.
With stunning views, Machu Picchu is an awesome site. But Jorge had other plans for us this day. He led us to a less assuming area known as the "quarry" where various boulders jut up from the earth. He had asked us each to bring a stone from home with us. Here at the quarry Jorge instructed us to release whatever we needed to into the stone and then when we had released all that we needed to, he told us to leave the stone under a boulder at the quarry. First day, first hour, and here we are in a big releasing ceremony. I was comforted by the cries of others nearby. As I rubbed my rock like a worry-stone, I mentally charged it with all my negativity, pain, grief, and fear. I went through each of my chakras and charged it with all the energies that I needed to let go of starting with fear, then moving on to guilts, shame, grief, lies, and illusions. I cried as I went back over some of my sad stories where I was still holding onto my self-professed victimizations. And I truly felt this need to let go of the ideas and the masks and the stories of myself that I had held onto for so long and that had limited me in so many ways. I was moved to take the stone and rub it on my back over my fracture. I no longer want to be limited by this injury. I thought to myself, "If now is the time to truly let go, then this is the time to do it!" As I was taking the stone to my spine with tears in my eyes, I took a deep breath and lengthened upwards through the crown of my head and heard a pop in my spine. I turned my head in the slightest way, really just a suggestion of a movement, and felt another pop in my neck, then two more in the shoulder area. Everything was literally clicking into place. I got up on my boulder and was called to naturally do some yoga asanas. And then, when it was time, I placed my stone under my boulder, took one last view, and walked away feeling lighter and more open. Day 1 - first big release.

Meditation at the Great Mother
Our second day in Machu Picchu was equally as profound as the first. We headed up the trail to the Sun Gate which is a long walk that Jorge approximated to be about 45 minutes each way (this was my first note to self that Jorge may be able to make it in 45 minutes, but the rest of us oxygen deprived newbies will double that with ease). We stopped about half way at the "Great Mother." A monolithic stone jutting out of the earth. Jorge first stopped to ask permission for our entry. He rang a bell, chanted and then had each of us go to the stone and put one hand on the stone and the other facing the mountains and then to switch. One way sent blessings to the Great Mother and the other allowed us to receive blessings. Afterwards we sat in meditation. Jorge divulged that this area was also where they found the remains of the "witch of Machu Picchu." Witches or Priestesses were highly referred as healers to the Incans and they also were able to calculate the celestial events such as solstices and equinoxes. Although I am not always able to feel energy when others speak of it, at one point I placed my forehead against the Great Mother as if it plug myself in directly at the third eye. And that is what I felt - a charging of energy like I was plugged into an outlet. And although the hike to this point had been challenging and breath-laboring for me, I felt a renewed sense of energy and was able to hike the remaining portion to sun gate with little stress on my lungs and heart at all. And I thought, "Thank you, Great Mother!"

At Sun Gate we performed another ceremony where we flew like the Condor. Jorge explained to us the animal trinity. The Snake represents the Lower or Underground World. The Puma represents the Middle World or here on earth. And the Condor represents the Upper World. The journey of evolution of consciousness begins with the snake shedding its skin (like we did when we released our energy at the quarry). The puma is always watching and alert, learning and studying (like anyone on a spiritual path). But the Condor, well, he sees from up above the big picture. He does not always act or react because he knows that it is not always time to do so. This is the wisdom that we all aspire for. Here we took turns lying on our back on a rock, shimmying up so that our head was hanging upside down off the rock, and flapping our arms slowly until Jorge gave us the okay to open our eyes. Hanging upside down we had the view of the Condor! There was a lot of trust involved, but the experience gave the first glimpse that anything is possible!

The third day we hiked along the old railway and down into the valley to a beautiful waterfall. Along the way butterflies lined the path and Jorge talked to us about the sacred element of water, representing the emotional body - just as in yoga the 2nd chakra and water element rule the emotional energies. He talked about heavy energies and our tendency to be attached to these heavy energies. So Jorge says we ask a favor of water to help move these heavy energies of the emotional body because water is always ready to service. "Mama Cocha" is the mother of the sea or the lake. And we ask Mama Cocha to help us remove any energy where we feel an absence of love. We close our eyes and feel the water and feel the energy moving. Since we in our bodies are 70% water, we have an innate connection here and the ability to powerfully change heavy energy. As I listened to Jorge talk about all of this energy I was not the least bit surprised that I had awakened cranky this day. Energy had already been starting to move and maybe deep inside me I didn't want this change to happen. Perhaps deep inside I knew that there was more change coming and I was scared. For whatever reason, it was an emotional day, leading to this beautiful waterfall where we meditated and then, once again, I was called to do some natural yoga on a large boulder downstream. I moved into my hips with deep breaths and fluid pranic movements as I synchronized my breath and movement by the water's edge. I had to move. I had to get it all OUT! I knew that I was tired of feeling heavy energy and I was ready to unburden myself and unlock whatever other emotions were still pulling me down. The experience was extraordinary. And things were continuing to shift for me.

That afternoon we headed away from Machu Picchu to Sacred Valley or "Urumbamba" which means "fields of Light." Here there are 95 power places! Each of these sites is connected to a particular constellation in the Milky Way so the Urumbamba is considered to be a mirror reflection of the Milky Way on earth. The connection of the stars and Sacred Valley is yet another way in which the energy in Peru becomes so real and larger than life. There have long been tales of light beings from space in and around Peru. Some will argue that the beings never left, while others are awaiting their return. Another palpable power place in Sacred Valley is Moray, where circular depressions in the earth give way to some spiraling energy that you can feel in your body when you stand there. I joked to Victoria that I could see the starship enterprise docked in the depressions of Moray thereby opening up an energy portal for interstellar travel. I was only half joking when I said this...okay, I was mostly not joking when I said this...all right, I was literally never more serious at any other time in my life about an idea that I had.

My story of Sacred Valley gets a little blurry because of all the power places that we visited and the various discussions, meditations and ceremonies that we observed in and around them. Each time Jorge asked permission from the place that we connect there. Each time we went deeper into ourselves and our own individual awakening. I even had a shamanic healing session at the hotel one evening, where a shaman performed a ritual with chumpi stones in which to open and align the chakras. It was all building to something equivalent to a celestial event, yet I was still unaware of what was coming my way. Even my journal reeks of "Poor Tracey, I guess she just doesn't have the same energy connections that others do." I was going through the motions, feeling some shifts, and enjoying the views, but awaiting the big bang...and then it happened.

It was September 13th. I awoke to the 6th day in a row of my left eye twitching. It was actually starting to be quite annoying. At first I thought that I was just overtired. But then I started to notice that whenever we went to a power place, it acted up even more. Being that most of Sacred Valley IS a power place, there was little rest for my eye.

Our surprise this day was to meet a woman named Solara, responsible for first writing about the whole 11:11 phenomenon, to which I have been aligned with for the past several years, and even moved to taking screen shots of my iPhone whenever I look down and see that it is 11:11. I felt a wave of excitement wash over me upon hearing where we were headed. Then as our bus moved down the narrow streets and to her private sanctuary an overwhelming flood of emotions came over me.

Solara describes the witnessing of 11:11 as receiving a download. It is an awakening, a map, and a bridge to our ascension "home." All of this at first light may feel a bit new agey for many, but in light of all that I have been practicing, reading, and honoring, it suddenly all clicked into place for me. A quick search of my iPhotos revealed that I had taken an 11:11 screen shot 54 times in the past year and a half since I had started taking the screen shots. As Victoria pointed out, this was half of 108, the auspicious number. So as Solara guided us around her home, showed us the chakrana (a ceremonial bridge and energy portal) they were building, and then led us through an interpretive reading using the cards that she had taken 24 years to perfect, I already felt as though I'd come home.

The visit was inspiring, and we left Solara's house to find a beautiful rainbow around the sun! Do not
The All-Seeing EYE!
bother to tell me what scientific evidence concludes for the happening of this event, this was Divine! And that's when it all began to happen...this energy surge that I was to experience for the first time in my life.

We headed to several sacred alters that day, but after the first one at the Moon Temple, I began to feel nauseous and light-headed. Victoria tried to ground my energy, but it was way up there somewhere. The entire earth was moving. No, it was not altitude sickness. This was something else happening. The ground felt like liquid and my body was starting to lose relation to itself and the earth. I was feeling lost somewhere in the field of energy around me. After Victoria's grounding we went to a second site called Saqsawaman. I couldn't walk at all. I sat on the ground by the entryway feeling spirals of light circulating through my body. The nausea had started to descend lower in my body and this churning was now more prevalent in my 5th chakra and going into my 4th. Jorge came back to meet us and give me the bad news that the bus would not be coming back this way. I had to somehow get up and walk through the ruin site. He suggested that although it was good that I was squatting low to the earth, I should lie on my stomach with my solar plexus connected to Pachamama. I did this, instinctively making the triangle gesture (Love, Service & Wisdom) above my head. I breathed and cried into the earth. Energy was surging through my body in waves that I had never felt nor comprehended before in my entire life. I did not know what was happening, but I realized that energy was grounding down through me.

I had purchased a quartz pendant with a small Machu Picchu stone on it when we were in Machu Picchu. It had a silver sun and moon on it and some spirals for Pachamama. I didn't wear it until this day and for some reason, and before knowing where we were headed or what we were doing, decided to put it on that day. Solara's sanctuary was filled with suns and moons, alters to the sky, and connections to the stars. Some sky energy in me activated that morning and was taking its slow journey down through my body towards the earth. It was undeniable.

Victoria held my hand as we walked slowly into the temple area with the others. My body was shaking and vibrating from the inside, but as I walked I could feel the energy move into my solar plexus. I felt sick to my stomach as it churned and fought to listen to what Jorge was talking about, but failed to hear very much. As we walked I felt twinges in my left ovary as the energy moved down into the 2nd chakra. I wondered why I wasn't getting any sensation on the right side, but felt it best to just focus on breathing and slowly walking and grounding this energy. And then I felt it in my legs and then finally down to my feet where it felt like a million pins and needles trying to find a way into the earth. I do not know how long the whole energy acclimation took, but I can tell you that the entire next day for 10 hours on a bus to Puno I was sick, cleansing out something from my body and my mind.

That was unfortunately our last day with Jorge. I was able to partake in some of the ceremonies to open the heart - I even left my second stone at one of the sites. But the day was really about assimilation of energy. Since then I have felt pins and needles at my crown chakra at various different times. I am still trying to figure out what this means or how to connect it to something, but the realization is that something shifted in me in Peru. And I can feel energy in a new and different heightened way than every before.

Visiting these ancient sites and traveling amongst energy portals, vortexes and ley lines certainly is a different type of experience. The ceremonies we performed, the rituals we were professionally guided in, and the welcome bodies that supported me on this journey I will always be forever grateful for.

People had told me that Peru is a life-changing experience. Tibet being the sacred masculine, Peru is the sacred feminine. And since the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 there has been a shift from an emphasis on the masculine energies of the earth to a pull of the feminine energies. We are living in a time of change and opportunity, growth and expansion. For those living in fear and not open to the energy coming, it may be a difficult ride. But for those who are awakening, life, as we know it, IS changing...and for the better.

I had hoped for a life-changing experience in Peru, but hadn't thought that I would actually HAVE one while there. And yet, there it is. As I type this blog I can feel the crown chakra all pins and needles - open and connected. And where it is to take me, I can only smile and go with love.

I am especially grateful for the three people responsible for leading me to this journey: Victoria, Jorge & Solara - the snake who helped me shed what no longer served me, the puma who allowed me to focus and study, and the condor who is showing me the bigger picture.

In Love, Service & Wisdom.