Friday, December 21, 2018

Reviewing "Manifesting the Best 2018"



I put out the best intentions for 2018. I had a gameplay and ideas that I wanted to implement. Looking back, some worked out very well, while others never landed. Still there, some challenges arose that I couldn't have predicted. All in all, I spent an hour or so looking back at this year and gaining a full perspective on all that I accomplished as well as the lessons that I learned. I find this an important thing to do before setting sights on a new year. With 2019 looming, I wanted to share my 2018 and hope the you will do the same.

First off, I taught a New Year's Day class on January 1, 2018 with a manifesting ritual at One Yoga Center, my home studio. I was blessed to be surrounded by some teachers and good students who all wanted to start the year right too. That first week of January I also moved the studio around, and basically removed the issue with the pole in the middle of the room. The room opened up and became more spacious and inviting. Students and teachers agree that it feels so much better. I believe that this propelled more positive energy moving forward for the studio throughout the year! In the month of January I also decided to open up my Thai Bodywork offerings more and started to book many more of these amazingly healing sessions. And then there was a little work in Princeton. First I conducted a special class at Princeton University for my Special Olympics family, and then I did my first television interview on Princeton TV. Holy Ivy League, Batman!

In February I announced that my book, The Accidental Yogini, would be released in March. So much support flowed in! The book and its promotion would be a huge project for me throughout 20189, and I will share some of those highlights:

  • 1. March 1 the book comes out on amazon
  • 2. March 31st I hosted a book launch party at One Yoga Center, attended by students, family and friends. I felt the love deeply!
  • 3. July - September held a host of locations for the book tour, to which I am grateful for every venue for having me and helping me to get the word out
  • 4. The Accidental Yogini retreat in Yogaville was a huge success - and the book mark on the bulletin board still remains!
  • 5. Winning Awards: first was the International Book Awards finalist position, then the American Fiction Awards finalist, followed by a Pinnacle award for spiritual fiction and a 5 star Reader's Choice award. Not too bad for a first outing!

Also in February we began work on the Special Olympics yoga program cards by doing our first of two photo shoots with many of the athletes of our unified program. This was so much fun!

In March I started to feel a little burn out and issues with major energy shifts. I dealt with a lot of personal issues for several months, seeking healing treatments from many people who shared their healer gifts with me, helping me move through some of the darkest times of my life with the highest possible energy frequencies. One of the things to come from this work was passing a kidney stone on March 13th - probably one of the most painful experiences in my life - maybe even worse than breaking my back. Three days later I thought I passed another stone and was back in the hospital, although they explained it was merely muscle spasms from the first one. I do not wish kidney stones on anyone. But, when I look up the meaning of the stones I realize that this is releasing much anger that I'd held in for too long of a time. I was happy to see it go, but there was still more healing of my heart work to be done.

In April Gwen R. and I headed to Colorado to share the Yoga4Sobriety program with people form Colorado, Utah, and Canada! Woo-hoo! Such a Rocky Mountain High! I also decided to pursue my Reiki level 3 in April, moving my energy work into higher gear. I felt this was not only appropriate for my own healing, but after 20 years I felt it was time to revisit and complete my Reiki trainings. Having found Michele Granberg, I knew I had the right teacher to take me there!

Then in May I turned 50. I know! I don't look 50 and I don't feel 50. But I AM 50. I am proud to be 50. It was a good month with some needed wellness doctor visits and preparations for June's events.

Which brings me to Greece! Yes, I conducted my first international solo yoga retreat escorting folks to Greece for a fabulous trip. It was better than could be anticipated with one exception - my husband was at home basically dying! Yes, ladies reading you will understand me, he wouldn't listen and go to the hospital. I thought was his appendix, but he said it was something else. OK. I had a plane to catch. Fast forward to him getting gangrene and being hospitalized and alone while I was away. This added some stress, but still, I managed to pull through and ensure that everyone had a fabulous time! Oh yeah, and my book also was at the Book Expo NYC! My mom and I took a trip into the city and came home with a huge bag of books.

July 8th I had the privilege of baptizing an adorable little boy named AJ, one of my student's first children. It was a lovely event that I was so grateful to be a part of. I realized I want to do more with my Ministry services and I put it out there! During July I was booked at 4 different venues to show my book and also attended the Soulsational Festival at the shore. I didn't sell many books anywhere, but I started to get my name out and the book's name out. It was challenging to not feel a little defeated, but at the end of the day if I sold two books, then I reached two more people, and I was humbled and grateful to have done so.

August was the Yogaville trip, an East Windsor park series where I met lots of new local friends, my Cousins reunion, the Stu and the Kids fundraising dinner, and achieving my Reiki Master! What a month!!!

September proved equally busy. I decided to revamp the store at the studio and create a full Metaphysical Shop - chock full of candles, incense, crystals, angel cards, smudging supplies and more. I had so much fun stocking it. For most of my adult life I have honored natural energies and done metaphysical work, personally. So, I thought after 20/30 years it was about time to share it with others. Truth be told, I kept being told my angels and spirits to do so. Having done so much work to heal my heart and raise my vibrations, attuning to ascension energies, I could no longer hold back! I put out a Natural Healer Course and began a four month foray into teaching the natural healer/shaman's ways and it has been a blast! I also attended two very large venues to promote my book: Lovelight Festival and Autumn Goddess Festival. Both were immensely important in furthering my notoriety as an author. One was very costly and headed little benefits, while the other was of little upmost with much reward. It made me think a little bit about how to proceed best in promoting my book moving forward - sometimes bigger is NOT always better.

So after all this outward promoting, I needed to get back to One Yoga Center - where I started my energies in the year. So, I repainted the sign out front. After 3 years it needed it. The Hightstown Annual Harvest Fair was a blast. I was so busy talking to people and giving mini angel card readings that the day flew by! I was asked to do a full day of angel card readings in Lambertville at a spa on the 24th, and did. When I do my readings the day passes so quickly. I felt blessed to be able to offer these and put myself out there more as an angel tarot card reader too.

November's highlights included my fist podcast interview (Hmm, I could do that forever), officiating a very good friend's wedding, and taking a well-needed family trip to our happy place in Mexico. Boy did I need some down time! I spent four days sleeping on a beach chair under an umbrella, happy as ever. Day five I got antsy and met with someone about a yoga retreat - but that's another story.

Bringing me to December, I got clarity on my tattoo situation and got my Hamsa tattoo and figured out a gameplay to integrate the pieces on my back together. We had a successful holiday craft fair at the studio, I finalized plans for yoga teacher trainings and the Thailand yoga retreat January, and took on both of my grandmother's christmas cookies - two with success, and another still in the works. Not everything can work out, after all!

Reading through this it seems quite overwhelming! I accomplished A LOT - and I went through A LOT! I didn't even mention teaching all my regular yoga classes, finishing up a 200 hour training, as well as advanced 100 and 200 (500 hour) teacher trainings modules, conduction numerous reiki and shamanic healing sessions, Thai yoga bodywork sessions, Yoga4Sobriety trainings (we did 5 this year!), writing several articles for Neighbors of East Windsor Magazine, and applying for all the wring contests and other book promotional things that I did.

I FEEL SO TIRED READING THIS!

But I also feel really completely honored. I feel empowered and grateful. I feel humbled and lucky.

It is often said to be careful what you wish for. When you start a year with the mantra "Manifest the Best..." you better get ready to manifest! Well, I did. I'm feeling that my theme for 2019 need to be little different - maybe "Integrate!" I haven't quite nailed that down yet. But I will...I have 11 days to do so.

As for the those of you reading this blog, please do not feel the need to match or compare your year with me. I am me. You are you. But, do take some time to count what you accomplished. Go back through your photos and your calendar and see what happened this year. What was your theme? What did you accomplish? What did you learn through the challenges that arose?

Thank you for listening, and for giving me a place to go to remind myself how much I was able to do on the days when I am not feeling so high.

In Love & Light,
Tracey

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Only Gift that Keeps On Giving

It's that time of year where we are all in the furry of the holiday energy. Holiday Spirit is, of course, what it is all about. Yet somehow along the lines we've defined it with Santa and presents.

I want to offer a novel idea:

They don't want your Presents.

What they want is your PRESENCE!

We grow out of clothes. Flowers die. Electronics become obsolete. Much of our "stuff" winds up in various donation bins.

Gifts are lovely sentiments, especially when it is an item that someone can really use. And personally, I do love giving gifts. But if you really want to give something special that will last, be fully present with your friend or loved ones.

Turn off your cell phone.

Turn off the TV.

Stop checking your watch or making other plans.

Make eye contact.

Talk to each other.

Listen to each other.

The memory of such an important exchange will last forever...

...something to think about.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Holding Sacred Space

This topic has been on my mind for some time now. Why? Partially because I have been renewed in my own ability to do such a thing. But also because I have watched so many people arrive to the ever-growing world of spirituality with their own agendas and inability to do just this very thing.

Last month I listened to a webinar with renowned speaker, Marianne Williamson. I remember first seeing her on stage present her ideas on A Course in Miracles about twenty years ago or more. Not only is she captivating and a brilliant storyteller, but she has the ability to hold space for people. She talked about this very thing in our coursework, and I was pleased to hear that I held all of the same thoughts about this as she did. Our ideas are the same: you have to be fully present, grounded, and coming from a place of love in order to hold sacred space for others.

This is a deeply important offering for people. People trust you with, as Williamson stated, their soul and their deepest longings and fears. You cannot begin to hold space for people if you are not at the right place to do so.

Yoga teachers, especially, I believe, have an important role in holding scared space because the practice of yoga is a spiritual one at its core. You may be good at achieving postures and showboating them in the front of the room, but that is not teaching yoga - and that is not holding space for others. You social media ranking may be quite high and you have a lot of "followers," but that has nothing to do with holding space. In fact, all of those things really only say that you are in it for yourself and coming from either a very large ego  - or quite a deflated one. The reality of needing to advertise aside, I want to express my deepest, most heartfelt plea to all the numerous amount of yoga teachers, healers, Reiki practitioners, and all others in the spiritual community to do some self inquiry to see if you really are at a place where you should be holding such space for others.

Everyone has the capacity to hold space for others. Very few are good at it. And some may never grasp it.

Not that holding sacred space is a checklist kind of thing, but I will attempt to put it into such a list for those of you who are hosting events, owning studios, or creating space for people to express themselves, grow, and transform.

1. Be Grounded. Sounds simple, but...I see it all the time. Are you connected with the earth element? Grounding in your being? Able to be still, relax, and listen - sometimes intuitively while other times audibly - to others? This is not something everyone is connected to. In fact, those on the spiritual path may at some point find themselves so up in their heads or on a spiritual plane, that their feet never quite touch the ground, rendering themselves unavailable, quite physically, to others. We have to be anchored in our body because, right now, that is our vehicle in which to move about on this 3D, earthly plane. And while moving about in the 5D planes may be exciting work, it isn't going to allow you to help others, if in fact that is your calling. So, plant it. Get rooted and grounded. Be.

2. Listen. People will tell you everything that you need to know in order to help them grow, if you just listen. Listen with your ears, of course. But, listen with your eyes. Listen with your intuition. Listen with everything you've got. People are always telling you a story and sometimes it isn't a blatant form of storytelling. Those who teach spiritual practices are used to talking a lot during classes, sermons, etc. Sometimes we forge to listen. Listening is more important, because when you know what it is that someone needs, you will then be able to give it to them...but not if you're too busy trying to tell them in the first place.

3. Have Your Own Consistent Spiritual Practice. Yup, when was the last time you took a yoga class for yourself, if you are a yoga teacher? When was the last time you opened a new book on your field of study? When was the last time you prayed, meditated, created a ritual, practiced the holidays in the spiritual tradition that you practice? When was the last time that you did a seva - a selfless work for another? Maybe it was yesterday. Good. What about today? If it was last month, last year...not so good. Your spiritual practices will keep you connected to the divine play of the Universe, and truth. It's also good to try new spiritual endeavors and reach beyond your comfort zone form time to time. Challenge yourself so that you remember what it is like to be a student or have that beginner mindset. Then you can relate better to your students too.

4. Come from a Place of Love. Keep that heart center OPEN. When you have your own agenda like, "Today, we are going to learn the Camel pose," and half the people in your class are actually experiencing low back pain, but you push that agenda because it was the plan...you are teaching from your 3rd chakra - your ego center. And there are similar examples for other spiritual careers as well. You must always come from your 4th chakra - your heart center - all the time. Even when a student pushes one of your buttons, you must come from a place of love. Never force anyone to do anything. Always offer alternatives in which they may feel more comfortable doing. There is no "right" way to anything - unless it is the way of love.

5. Show Up Early. Very early. You cannot run into a space, slap on some music and get to it. You have to ground yourself and then create the space. Always arrive 30, 60 or more minutes before the event so that you can create the space that is necessary and that you are prepared. And, be prepared.

6. Know How to Create Sacred Space. What is sacred space? It is a place where people feel safe to explore the depths of their own being. A place where they can feel okay crying, laughing, or expressing their true selves. A sacred space often is created with specific energy and intention behind it.. There may be spiritual figures present in the space or Ascended Masters. Often there is some sort of light - a candle, perhaps, to represent the light of Spirit. Sometimes there are greater rituals at hand to remove negative energy or increase positive vibrations, such as smudging or energy clearing. Often you will find an alter, where you focus your spiritual intentions daily for the space.

7. Know When to Step Back. If you aren't in the right place to hold sacred space, then know when to pull back from it. We often have the best intentions in mind, but aren't grounded or able to listen or connected to spirit enough, to do it. Have the integrity to know when you are in over your head and ask for guidance from one of your own teachers. Or, take a sabbatical, or spiritual retreat, to do your own inner work. Nobody will think ill of you for doing such a thing. But resentments can arise when you don't.

Holding Sacred Space for people to release or grow and transform is an art form that takes much effort to do properly. But when you do, people will know. And more people will seek to work with you for it. And then, you can help more. It's a cycle. We don't do it for the rewards, we do it because we are called to. So, I guess we can add that as our last point - know that it is your calling.

I hope that this helps many of you who may have been thinking about starting to teach or hold sacred space for others. And for those who already are but have been feeling a little lost, no worries. Take a breather and ask yourself the above questions. And to everyone, know that I am here for you, to mentor and help guide you along your journey.

In Love & Light
Tracey

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December's Theme: BE THE LIGHT!

Every Spiritual Tradition talks about the Light:

"I have come into the world as light" - Bible

"Allah is the Light and the heavens and the earth." - Koran

"In the effulgent lotus of the heart dwells Brahman the Light of lights." 
- Hindu Upanishads

"Following the light, the sage takes care of all." - Lao Tsu

If every tradition talks about it, then there must be something to it, right? 

Just as the moon creeps up into the night sky, what was previously unseen is now illuminated. Light is what conquers the darkness. And as many sages have reminded us, "Be the Light." 

So for the month of December, when many festivals and holidays include themes of light (Hanukkah = Festival of Lights, Solstice = rebirth of the light, Bodhi Day = Buddha reaches enlightenment, Advent = lighting candles, and let's not get started with Christmas lights!), let's consider what it means to honor the light within and BE THE LIGHT.

"Gayatri Mantra"
A Prayer to the Divine Light

Om Bhur Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat

Translation: 
"The eternal, earth, air, heaven
That glory, that resplendence of the sun
May we contemplate the brilliance of that light
May the sun inspire our minds."

Chanting this sacred ancient mantra represents both the physical sun and the Divine in all things. Use this mantra to meditate on your form of illuminated consciousness - as divine being of light, having a human experience. 

And then go take a drive and look at some amazing Christmas Light displays!

NAMASTE - THE LIGHT WITHIN ME HONORS THE LIGHT WITHIN YOU


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Special Message from Tracey for December...
This summer I was able to finally visit Yogaville, a yoga ashram located in Virginia. Ever since I began taking yoga I have heard of this place and wanted to visit. I held a weekend retreat and several of us headed down together to experience this spiritual haven ourselves. 

The ashram, dedicated to the teachings of Sami Satchidananda, has a mantra, "Truth is one, paths are many." And inside the famous LOTUS Shrine there are quotes from each of the major world religions or spiritual traditions - all talking about the light. To be in the shrine is not only an impressive collection of eclectic spiritual poems with the same theme, but also incredibly grounding. 

I found myself drawn to sit, quietly, for some time in this shrine. Having quite an eclectic spiritual background myself, there is a comfort in that knowing - that at the end of the day we are all the same - we are light. 

Since that trip I have found myself more rooted in my own being - body, mind and soul. And all of the disharmony happening these days, how integral to our own individual journeys in life is it to be reminded that at the end of the day we are all one light? I have stepped back into my own light and began to emerge even brighter than before. And I hope that for the month of December, that you will also step into your light, and in the process, possibly be a beacon for others to find their way.

In Love & Light,
Tracey

Thursday, November 1, 2018

November's Theme: Wherever You Go, There You Are!


Many years ago the book of this same name was published by Jon Kabat-Zinn, introducing many people to the world of Meditation and mindfulness. The concept is simple: be in the moment, wherever and whenever that is.

You cannot escape yourself no matter how hard you may try. Sometimes the holiday season can bring up old issues and patterns that we may think we have resolved or worked through. So we get busy to keep our mind focused on other things. And the hectic pace of traveling, visiting, gift purchasing and all the rest of the things that come with the holidays can keep us in a pattern of "checking out" rather than dropping in.

Make time for your yoga and meditation practice. You need it more when you are busier and things are crazier!

Here is a mantra you can use anywhere because you can say it to yourself or out loud. Use it at the store check-out line, in the car, with your family, and any other time you feel yourself not being connected to the present moment:

"SA TA NA MA"

Use your thumbs to press into each finger as you say it:
Thumb to index finger: SA (meaning the beginning, totality of everything)
Thumb to middle finger: TA (meaning life, existence and that which manifests)
Thumb to ring finger: NA (meaning death, change and transformation)
Thumb to pinky finger: MA (meaning rebirth, resurrection and joy)

For those who have more time, add the Central Channel breathing technique, where you inhale through the crown of the head and into the core, then exhale from the core to the earth below us. Then inhale up from the earth to our core, and exhale up through the crown of the head. Perform Central Channel Breath while adding the Mula Bandha or Root Lock, tightening the muscles at the pelvic floor (ask your yoga teacher for a more complete explanation next time you are in class).

These techniques will keep you dropped down into your body to experience all the wonderful moments that life has to offer.

And there you are!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

This quote can be found on page 101 of Wherever You Go, There You Are. I thought I had this book, but I had to find it on my bookshelf because I read it over twenty years ago. You tend to keep the good ones and refer to them from time to time. Unfortunately, I've been a little busy since then and hadn't done so. But, the first thing that I hi lighted from the book is "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally," page 4. Oops. How many of us can say that we live this way? Were you with me until "non-judgmentally" came up?

Living mindfully and being fully present is something that we all continually work on. On the yoga mat we focus on our breath and our body's position to keep us there. But what do we focus on when out there living our life? It is easy to get caught up in the external activities that keep us disconnected. We focus on the people around us, the situations that either occurred, will occur, or we project could occur and constantly move about our day sort of disconnected. I find that so many people keep busy to not have to be mindful enough to work through the difficulties. Then, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, we go into react mode.

Did you realize that one of the benefits of staying present - living in the moment - is that you live in a Creatorship mode? That means that we are connected with the Divine source, Universal Oneness, and when in that mode, we are able to truly create anything. But when we are checked out and reactive, well, that is the fear-based living that keeps us in that suffering pattern.

By now you all realize that I only talk about things I have personal experience with. This is not any different. Just like me putting Wherever You Go, There You Are on the shelf for twenty years, I have a pattern of keeping myself so busy that I am sometimes just spinning my wheels and quite often just running from the issues that I am not ready to work on. One of my favorite escapes is traveling. I've been to some remote places in the world. I've traveled to Asia, Africa, South America and throughout Europe, Canada and the US. And I love it. I love to travel so much because of so many reasons. But I have to be careful that my knee-jerk reaction to problems is not to get on a jet plane and out of Dodge. Of course, I want to sometimes. But you know what? Wherever I go...there I am...there is no escape. And eventually, I have to sit still, be, and do the work.

For the grateful month of November, consider this theme no matter where you are.
In Love & Light,
Tracey

Monday, October 1, 2018

October Theme: Energy Flows Where Attention Goes!

Energy Goes Where Attention Flows
Everything is energy. Thoughts, actions, words - EVERYTHING - is tied together. If you focus on loss, lack and fear - you get more of that. When you focus on abundance, thriving and love - you receive that.

What do your daily thoughts consist of?

What energy do you start your day with?

What is it time to let go of?

Let's focus on generating a positive flow in a direction that you desire by bringing all of your thoughts, words and actions into harmony with your highest self! Come up with a mantra to serve this highest good and repeat it daily. Wear a personal mala bracelet or necklace to remind you of the mantra throughout the day and when you catch yourself in self-doubt or negative patterns, bring yourself mindfully back to your new mantra and energize your attention to the positive! Try this for your mantra:

"I am love. I am in perfect alignment with the Universe. I AM"
or -
"Soham"

Align your energy and flow, flow, flow...AHO!


* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Special Message from Tracey for October...
Truth me told, I had about 3 different themes ready to go for October. All of them good ones, but ultimately when "Energy Goes Where Attention Flows" hit me, I said, "YES!" That's it! Perhaps it is a little bit of a self-serving theme for the month, since my own energy is a little bit all over the place these days. Between marketing my book, "The Accidental Yogini," working to create new workshops and programs for the studio as well as run the day-to-day operations, and securing fabulous retreat destinations, my energy is flowing just about everywhere, yet lacking some focus. I realized that in my mind that I had been considering these three different businesses, when in reality, they all integrate very well together into the same one. Why hadn't I seen that? 

So the past month or so has been about integrating and focusing my attention to my one business: ONE YOGA. "The Accidental Yogini" is our story - the collective story of all of my students over the years and myself as well. We are all the accidental yogi or yogini, aren't we? My retreat business is not its own entity either - it is a branch of the studio where I can take what I teach on the road to visit other places, give back, and help students see and explore the world as ONE. 

When I began 2018 I made a beautiful vision board. A huge tree with various branches is in the middle and each branch holds another avenue of something I was focusing on this year. I loved it. Now I see that I was focusing on the branches being separate and not a part of the whole. I've decided to use a different image for 2019 and I will be sharing that with you soon. 

Energy Flows Where Attention Goes...ah, this is so tricky. Even when we think that we are focusing our energy on something positive, we can still fine-tune that and direct it just a little bit more. I remember a great example of this when considering positive intentions. Let's say that you want to lose weight. Well, if you say, "I will lose weight!", which sounds positive enough, the Universe actually only hears you talking about weight. The real intention is "I am healthy" or something to that affect. Focus the attention on very specific energy to achieve the results you desire. This goes from your thoughts to your words to your actions - they are all one too. 

For October I hope that you will consider this theme and how it impacts your life. And if you need help, please contact me for a private mentor consultation! 
In Love & Light,
Tracey

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Reviewing Six Months of Book Marketing

The past six months have been nothing but a lot of hard work and effort. I am not complaining because I wouldn't have done it any other way. But, I managed to somehow accomplish the work of several people by taking on promoting my new novel, The Accidental Yogini, in addition to running my full-time business. As I look back on the past six months, I am proud of what I have accomplished and so grateful for the tireless support of my friends, family and students. Let me tell you more about it...

My marketing plan began with promoting to the people I know in March. By April I had applied to several writing competitions and booked tons of  promotional events. May through September I put myself everyone - yoga studios, festivals and other book singing events - all in an effort to get myself out as a professional writer. The culmination of all of this hard work would be two major festival: Lovelight Yoga & Arts in Maryland and the Autumn Goddess Festival in Valley Forge. I remember thinking that September was going to be a very big month for me. I just knew it - that my book was going to get out there to hundreds of people and that it would be a big success.

Well, the huge event, Lovelight Festival in Maryland, was a ton of work and quite a bit of money and resources for me to spend. The event was okay. I met some fantastic people, but the weekend was wrought with some challenges - namely that headliner Krisha Das had come down with strep throat and would not be there the main evening, and then the cold and the rain moved in. Tons of people left early and the venue did not provide what it had anticipated. At the end of the weekend my back was shot from standing all weekend on my feet trying to sell my books - I sold two in three days...and a couple of T-Shirts.

I drove home from Maryland feeling a little defeated. I had poured so much of myself into that event to come out feeling crappy both physically and mentally. I had focused so much on selling my 50 books that they told me to bring, I kind of missed some of the great things that happened. Well, I didn't miss them, but I certainly was not focusing on them.

Some time mid-week I realized that I needed to shift my focus to what had gone well and what had been good at Lovelight. Two of my best friends had drove all the way down to come to my class and support me and hang out. Lots of people stopped to congratulate me on the book - several who said they had even heard of it but didn't know from where. The community marketplace tent that I was put in randomly was outfitted by several other folks from New Jersey and we had a blast ringing the imaginary bell every time someone else said they were form the home state. We definitely bonded and had many laughs. I learned a lot about festivals, what people are looking for in their classes, and what to expect. I gained insight and wisdom and a whole lot of people saw my book - even if they didn't purchase it. Exposure is good. So, it was a good weekend.

This past Saturday I was to be at another festival in Valley Forge called the Autumn Goddess Festival. I knew that I couldn't go into it the same way that I had Lovelight. I decided to change my perspective to go with the flow. I dressed down in comfy jeans and my Dr. Martin's and didn't even prepare or review my class. I also had two students of mine who I'd become good friends with, help and support me. So I would also not be alone. I decided to go with less expectations and just enjoy the day...and I did.

The event was lovely. There were not as many people there as at Lovelight. But I got to talk to so many amazing people. Every single person was happy and nice. I greeted everyone with a smile and light-hearted banter, without often bringing up my book. It was sitting in front of me anyway, so if the conversation led to that, great. If not, I just said, "enjoy the rest of your day!" People went crazy about the T-shirts for the book. I sold more of them than books, but I also sold more books than at Lovelight...not a lot more, but more.

My class also felt effortless. I hadn't really planned. When I taught at Lovelight it was difficult. It felt forced and I felt the disconnect with the students. But at the Goddess Festival I felt like we were grooving all together and enjoying each moment.

In all, the three festivals that I spent time and effort doing this year to promote my book did not really sell that many copies. But, I got it out there. I got myself as an author out there. I talked to so many people and so many more at least saw me and the book. And I feel good about that.

Now, as the festivals end and I get ready to head back to my studio and normal schedule, I realize that   when I was forcing things and holding on so tightly to outcomes, that things just didn't gel as well. And when I loosened up and went with the flow and just enjoyed myself - it felt much better. Normally I live organically in a flow, but promoting myself as an author was so outside of my comfort zone that I kind of got lost and away from that part of myself.

The book came out March 1st. Tomorrow is October 1st. That is a full six months of hard-core book promoting. Most of the events at other yoga studios were canceled or little attended. The festivals didn't reap what I initially expected. And now I am done with all of the marketing that I planned at other locations. I'm exhausted, and I still have a ton of books to sell. But I sure did learn a lot!

I remember a mug I saw a long time ago that said, "Sometimes right back where you started from is exactly where you need to be."

I am no sure where all the promotions and hard work will take me. But tomorrow I go back to my studio and to my students and teach like I always have. Well, maybe not like I always have. Maybe more relaxed and, dare I say, "present" again! I'm sure that everyone will appreciate that. But I want to say that I am so grateful for everyone in my life that has supported this effort and me. I really know some amazing people in both my personal life and my professional world. My students are so amazing. I am not just saying that, either. I look forward to spending some time with them and at my studio in October, sharing yoga, healing and other mystical things.

And, as for the book, well, if anyone knows Oprah or Ellen or anyone in television, publishing or movies, please tell them about it! And if you have any ideas, I am all ears! I still have hope, but I am surrendering to the divine flow of the universal pulse of energy and riding that wave with trust.

Peace, love and light...

TOTALS:
# of books sold on Amazon to date: 102
# of books sold personally (approximate): 40

Saturday, September 1, 2018

September 2018 Theme; Blessings!

September 2018's Theme: BLESSINGS!

"Count your blessings," "God bless you," "Bless your heart." There are many blessing phrases that we have heard our entire lives. We wondered how many take the time to consider what their blessings actually are...

According to the trusty old dictionary, the noun form of the word blessing means God's favor and protection. But what does it mean to you to be blessed? Have you thought about that in some time? And if you have, how have you expressed that feeling? And how does being blessed feel in your body?

Humans have a tendency to complain more than express appreciation. We tend to worry instead of trust that the Divine is, in fact, looking out for us. Most people feel that miracles are something that rarely happen instead of known that they are normal and fundamental daily occurrences. 

Even though things may go wrong, we can choose to look at the situation as a lesson. Learn what we need to, let go of pain and anger, and choose to view it as a blessing (we like to refer to them as "blessings in disguise" don't we?). 

Start your day with a blessing journal or jar and express what you are feeling grateful for and blessed for every day and make it your new habit! 

This month, we invite you to incorporate these methods into your life:
 
ChantOM AY HUM - Buddhist Mantra of Blessing

Postures: True some Warrior variations such as "Humbled Warrior," which you take from Warrior I or II, bring your hands around the back, and lower your head to the floor at the instep of your foot, then closing your eyes. Or, "Exalted Warrior," coming from Warrior II, bringing the back arm down to the thigh and front arm up above the head, gazing skyward.

Meditation/Breathing: Give the Breath of Joy a try. Tracey's Breath of Joy!

Alter: Find a gold cloth for your alter and place in the center a white candle and just behind that a statue or picture of Jesus Christ. Add any other items that represent some of the people, places or things that you feel blessed to have or have had in your life. Chant your mantra using mala beads to count the blessings in your life. 

In Love & Light, Tracey and the One Yoga Center Teachers.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Special Message from Tracey for September

Earlier this year I started a gratitude journal. Every morning I would sit down with my hot tea and write what I was grateful for. I enjoyed the process and it really got my energy channeling in a positive direction right at the beginning of the day. Then I got "busy" and put my journal in my office and off the kitchen counter and kind of forgot it. I'm embarrassed to share this because I truly feel that every day is a gift and a blessing. I'm now making a more concerted effort to bring my daily journaling back. 

That's the thing with blessings - when everything is going good we kind of forget to count them sometimes. A true spiritual practice is one that reflects this energy all the time. We can't just ask God for help when we need it. We have to put effort into expressing the gratitude too and recognizing how blessed we are - all the time. 

This got to me the other day after a fundraising dinner that I host at my house every August for a charity that is dear to my heart: Stu and the Kids. My friend, Stu, is a chef who left his pretty cushy job in Hollywood behind and moved to Thailand to not get paid to teach English to a wat (temple) that houses 650 orphaned and hill-tribe children. I have been to the wat a couple of times and it is truly heartbreaking to see how these kids live. Mind you, they are happy because they have a roof over their head and rice in their bellies. But it is touching and you realize just how blessed you are to have the comforts that we take for granted back home. Stu's organization helps these kids go to secondary school so that they can learn a valuable trade - something not many Thai children are afforded in the north. This year we raised about $2000 for Stu and the Kids, which he said is probably a quarter of a tuition for a kid. When I take my retreat to Thailand in January we will visit the wat and bring the kids a special lunch. 

So what got me was, I began to think about my "kids" here at home - my Special Olympics athletes that I get to work with and teach yoga to twice a month. There I was cleaning up from the fundraising dinner and I began thinking of my SONJ peeps. What a true blessing I have been given to be able to help so many people. It hadn't hit me how lucky I am to be able to continue to do this work. And I need to thank all of you reading this, because if you are a student of mine at One Yoga, then you coming in and taking classes is what allows me the advantage to help others. You probably are aware that our studio is helping you, but I want you to understand how you just coming in helps me help even more people and just how freakin' blessed that makes me feel! I may not be expressing myself so clearly, because when you truly feel it in your heart, sometimes all you can do is put your hand on the heart-center and smile in appreciation...I hope you can visualize me doing just that.

To learn more about Stu and the Kids, check out their website, and please feel free to donate if you feel inspired to do so. Or, to really see what it's all about, join me in Thailand this January on our Living in Joy retreat. We will be visiting the wat and bringing the kids a very special lunch and learning about the organization right from Stu!
StuandtheKids Website (StuandtheKids.org in case the link doesn't work).

In Love & Light.

Tracey L. Ulshafer, Founder, One Yoga & Wellness Center LLC, Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hours (E-RYT500), RYS, CMT, Energy Worker, 11:11 True One.

If you would like to meet for private yoga, spiritual counseling or mentoring, contact Tracey at (609) 918-0963 or Info@oneyogacenter.net

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Transforming Through the Dark Night

When one is on a spiritual path or journey it is not an easy walk. Immersing into the psychology and energies of spiritual traditions is meant to bring the seeker to a higher plane of existence. But first, he or she must go through what is often referred to as the "dark night of the soul" in order to reach it.

Three years ago this September I embarked on such a trip - albeit unknowingly, at first. My grandmother, to whom I was always very close with, had suddenly died, and I was heading to Peru and Bolivia on a Shamanic trip. I knew for some reason that I needed to cleanse and purge before I left. I'd spent the last twenty years amassing "things" and collecting energy and I felt heavy and a deep need inside of me to purge. I began with a box of journals, recordings of my life up to that point and picked up more old files, manuscripts and other documents. I brought them outside to a bonfire and as my husband tended to the sacred fire I burned them all - one at a time. This sacrificial burning was the beginning of a deep cleansing and recasting of energies.

I went on my trip as happy as always to board a plane and head off on another adventure. It was thrilling and I welcomed the magic and mystical journey ahead of me. A mere few days into the trip I had an experience that I will never forget and something that changed me forever. I wrote about this experience in detail in another blog so I will save the details for that. Let me just say that an energy transference occurred for me that day that literally threw me to the ground, unable to move or do anything. This very physical experience lasted long enough to be only mildly problematic for our group and eventually I was able to go about my day visiting sacred sites. But this was only the beginning for me. I had begun a process that I could not undo, and for the next three years I dove deeper into my own darkness than I ever had before.

John of the Cross wrote of this experience as la note oscura or dark night and thought of it as a spiritual purging and an illumination. I know how it started but I cannot say how it all continued to manifest until I was deep into a very difficult period where I questioned everything - including what I was doing and why. I went through hysterical moments of deep sorrow and absolute lack of faith. I cried almost daily and I wondered how I was ever going to move forward in life the way in which I was. I knew deep within me that something had to change, but I didn't understand what it was. The only thing I knew that I had to do was continue to purge.

I began going through my possessions - donating them to organizations and individuals. My friends were scared and didn't know what to do. I was not talking in my usual positive framework. In fact, the things that I usually enjoyed doing I could hardly handle any more and made myself scarce with family and friends. I went to work, but there was no joy in my work. I suffered endlessly wondering if I needed to close the yoga studio and go back to working for someone else or to recreate myself again, but as what?

Angels began speaking to me and I held them close as they felt like the only thing that was keeping me going. I wrote a fictional book about a transformational journey (The Accidental Yogini) and was able to connect to the deep well of negativity that the main character felt in the beginning of the book all too perfectly. But as she changed and transformed in the book, I almost despised my own character's ability to find purpose in her life, feeling that I had somehow missed mine.

To many this may seem like a bunch of "poor-Tracey, itty-poo-poo" crap. I understand. It kind of was. Every time I tried to explain my pit of despair it seemed to fall on deaf ears. Well, either that or nobody knew what to say to me since I was usually the voice of reason.

So I dug deeper and went through a period of unrest in my soul. Who was I? What do I believe in? Why was I doing what I was doing? Was I a good person or a bad one? Did I really resonate with what I taught? Was I missing the point of a spiritual life? Questions kept coming and I then threw myself into a daily gratitude and blessing journal to focus my energy on the wonderful things in my life. Some days I had to force myself to come up with something. Other days I could find a thing. Over time it became easier and felt less fraudulent too.

Somewhere along this journey of endless questioning I realized something very important: I had already figured all of these things out a really long time ago. I knew who I was and what I was doing. I just started listening to everyone else on the planet instead of myself! I teach people not to look outside of him or herself for validation, and yet, there I was doing just that. I was trying to be like other yoga studios, other mentors, other wives, other people - and I was totally miserable. I had spent so much time questioning and looking outside that I forgot to drop back inside to me.

As I write this blog today I feel that I have finally come full circle - three turns of the wheel of the year later. Well, I believe that all spiritual paths come in threes, so why not!? I feel more myself than I have in a very long time, actually. I feel refocused and realigned with a sense of humbleness and purpose in my being that I did not have before. I had to go through some very tough times in order to get here though. I had to leave some of me behind in the process, burning away the impurities of my ego. I am now ready to serve and help others again through the work that I do. And I feel that this time I will be able to tackle that with more wisdom, patience and understanding than before.

Some may not see me as very much different than before. I'm not particularly concerned with how people see me anymore. I try to be the best that I can in any moment and I strive to be a better person all the time. I'm constantly challenged and sometimes I realize I could have handled things better, but at least I am consciously trying. But the reason I write this blog is for anyone who is feeling that same despondency in their being. I understand and I want you to know that you are not alone. You are not the first person to go through the dark night, and you will not be the last. But you will be different one you pass through it. That is for sure.

In Love & Light.
Tracey

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Tips for Being Mindful - Neighbors of East Windsor Magazine Article

Neighbors of East Windsor Article: Tips For Being Mindful

By: Tracey L. Ulshafer, Owner, One Yoga & Wellness Center, Hightstown, NJ


Mindfulness is a new movement with an old history. In today’s fast-paced, reactive world, we can certainly learn a lot of from ancient cultures about the benefits of being more thoughtful and aware. Often times our knee-jerk reactions stem from our emotions, which most of the time creates dramatic and unwanted results. Taking a moment to pause, and come from a centered and calm place always gifts more positive results. 

The ancient yogis lived mindfully, and cultivated a lifestyle based around awareness. Today we see a surge of mindfulness in schools programs, as educators are seeing the benefits of mindful behavior for our children. How can we adults, with our engrained behaviors, benefit from mindfulness?  In addition to reducing our stress, living mindfully can help with focus, improve general health and well-being, boost our resilience and aid in recovery from illness and, in general, create a more peaceful life. 

You should be saying, “Sign me up!” Although life can be busy, we can easily create space for mindfulness in these easy steps:

1.    Breath – take five minutes a day to focus on your breathing. Follow the natural flow of the breath from the inhalation to the exhalation, and notice the pause in between. After time, increase the length or join a yoga class to learn other breathing techniques to increase breath capacity.
2.    Meditation – take just a minute to close your eyes, or even with them open, then focus on one thing. It could be a picture of a loved one, a statue of Mother Mary, the blue sky on a beautiful day, or word like “peace” or “love.” You can even just focus on your breath or a sensation in your body. Try it for just one minute a day, and then gradually increase to five minutes, ten, thirty or more.
3.    Listen – practice listening instead of talking or reacting. Listen to the birds sing. Listen to the ripples of running water. Listen to the hum of silence. Listen to your loved ones talk. Just listen. Smile. Hold that space for someone else.
4.    BE – the hard one is not filling up your time with endless doing. The old zen saying goes, “Don’t just do something, be.” Give it a try. Unplug.
5.    Travel & Be in Nature – judgments arise easily when we live in a bubble. Travel and seek out other cultures and how they commune with nature. On a bit of a budget? Travel to a park or the ocean or the mountains. New Jersey is ideally situated for all of those things. Get out in nature, commune, explore, and understand that there are many paths along the journey.
6.    Joy – when was the last time you had a full belly laugh? What makes you truly happy? Suffering is optional. Find the joy in life, and make time for it – even if you have to laugh at your own seriousness. Life is short = be happy.
7.    Practice Gratitude – life is a blessing. What are you grateful for? Start a gratitude journal or jar and every day write down something that you are grateful for in that moment. Become more aware of the blessings in your life and stay present in them.

Mindfulness isn’t easy at first. It is a practice, but one that becomes easier the more energy that we give to it. Seek out reputable teachers and mentors for additional help. Luckily we have some right in East Windsor!


For ongoing yoga and meditation classes, private breathing lessons or mentoring, contact Tracey Ulshafer at One Yoga & Wellness Center, 156 South Main St., Hightstown, NJ – across from Peddie school. (609) 918-0963, Info@oneyogacenter.netorwww.oneyogacenter.net. For mindful traveling, visit www.SacredJourneysRetreats.comand travel with One Yoga Center on their next Sacred Journey.