I've been pondering the nature of being authentic and embracing my true nature a lot lately. We live in a world today where every minute detail of our lives are played out on social media in front of everyone we know and often judged and misinterpreted. So we may learn to play certain aspects of our lives up...and other ones deemed negative or inappropriate by others, down.
Can you relate? I can.
A few years ago I entered one of my self published books into a writing competition. One of the professional criticisms that I received back was that I write very straight-forward, something that he often sees from people who live in New Jersey. I grew up with the impression that this was actually a good thing. Suddenly this very successful publisher was telling me the opposite.
When I am criticized - by anyone - I always take a step back and assess it. I think about what the person is saying and if there is validity to it. I really try to go deep and figure out if there is some way I can learn and grow from what is being said or if the comments are just this other person's "stuff." I dove deeply into this for a long time and in the process, I lost myself. I admit it. I have been holding back - a lot. This holding back, unintentionally or not, created a pattern of me holding on to excess weight and pain in my body. One part of me knew this, but another part of me was still questioning how much I should be who I authentically was and how much I should shut it off so that I was more appealing to others who had criticized me - the least of which was this publisher.
Over the years people have come to me to tell me what other people have said about me. Sometimes these are from people who I know have a personal vendetta against me due to their own jealousies and other "stuff." yet I always listened to the feedback. At first I didn't think that this was affecting me. But in hindsight, I can see how the collected data has. I started to hold back my energy, my light - my power. I started to listen to other people more, in general. And I started critiquing myself based on what other people had to say about how a good yoga teacher should be or should not be too. I started to believe the judgements. And in this process, I stopped being me.
A little tip: you are never going to please all the people all of the time. Someone said that. I have to google it. Point is, you cannot please everyone and - not every one is right either.
About a week ago I moved the yoga studio around. I actually put it the way I wanted to set it up two years ago. These other people's voices that got into my head and had me misjudging myself and my intuition really messed with me. I stopped listening to my gut and started trying to do things I thought other people would like. When I finally course corrected the studio, I felt like my old self. I can only explain it to say that I felt lighter and better than I have in at least the last two years. Moving the studio from East Windsor to Hightstown was a good idea, I knew that. But, I have been complaining how challenging the work has been in reinventing myself. Why? Why did I get the feeling I had to reinvent myself? The question was, what was wrong with me to begin with? Not one of my favorite movies, but there is a line in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts says, "people put you down enough, you start to believe it." Powerful stuff...
I don't know where I get the strength sometimes to pull myself out of things, but I can say that I was raised by a very strong woman and two very strong Grandmothers so I believe that they rubbed off on me in just the right way. I am thankful for all the supportive people that I do have in my life, but at the end of the day, I know that it is only me who can get myself up and going again. I had to pull myself out of whatever self-loathing habit that I had gotten into when I allowed myself to listen to other people's critiques of me. And I had to find myself again. I believe that I have. And I am feeling great.
I will still continue to be mindful of my thoughts and actions. I will speak with truth and integrity, but not when to do so might hurt another person. I will be a better me than I was before because of this. But hey, I'm a Jersey girl. So, really, if you don't like it, head out...turn the page...stop listening. But when you need an honest person to have your back, you'll look for someone like me, won't you?
So, that's me. I'm back, baby...and ready or not, here I come!
Friday, January 19, 2018
Monday, January 1, 2018
January 2018's Theme:
COMPASSION is one of the highest vibrational qualities that a person can possess. To be compassionate, we must be able to be there for another with a full and open heart as well as for ourself. To be compassionate there is no judgement. To be compassionate there is no end game or interest in receiving anything back. To be compassionate, you just need to be loving and willing.
Creator of the Indigo Angel cards, Doreen Virtue says, "The answer to your question involves treating those around you in the same way you wish to be treated. This card reminds you that how you act affects everything and everyone in your life. This is a time to show the higher part of yourself. To move forward, you must exude higher energy, because what you give out is what you receive. So check in with yourself and take inventory to ensure that you are treating others with fairness and compassion."
In our haste to get on with the day, we can sometimes cut off our loved ones. We can be consumed by work, social media, or issues that we may be having in our own life and not allow ourselves to connect in a true way with those around us. We can also be very judgmental. Ask yourself if you snap to an opinion about something or someone without really knowing them or understanding the entirety of the issue? There is a quote, "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." How else can we know, really? It has been said that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. So let's assume that anyone who cuts you off, talks over you, or is rude or ignorant, is having a problem and needs a little love and compassion sent their way. It may not always be easy, but in the end it will be carry you to higher places than you can imagine.
Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the conciseness becomes favorably disposed, serene and benevolent. - Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 1.33
For the month of January, consider how you can construct a life filled with compassion. Here are some helpful yogic tools:
OM MANI PADME HUM. This Tibetan chant is associated with the bodhisattva of compassion. It translates roughly to "the jewel in the lotus flower."
Mudra: Lotus. Bring your hands in front of your heart and touch the base of the palms together, thumbs touching and pinkie fingers touching. Soften the fingers and allow them to fold open like lotus petals.
Breath: Breath of Joy. CLICK HERE TO SEE TRACEY TEACH THE BREATH OF JOY
Postures: Those that open your heart-center like yoga mudra, Hare, Eagle-arms, Cow-Face, Camel, Bow, and even the Warrior II series where the arms are reaching out.
Alter: Add a statue or picture of the goddess Kuan Yin or Mother Mary, both of whom help invoke energy of compassion for all beings to your alter this month. Make offerings of fresh roses flowers or rose scented incense or oils.
Discussion/Meditation: CLICK HERE FOR DALAI LAMA TALK ON COMPASSION AND MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
If you want to explore some of these helpful tools for opening to compassion in a particular class this month, just let us know!
In Love, Service & Wisdom, Tracey and the One Yoga Center Teachers!
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Special Message from Tracey for January 2018
Its 2018 and another opportunity to begin anew. January always feels like an energetic, hopeful month for me. I usually take some time to evaluate my past year prior to the Winter Solstice so that I am clear what I am bringing in with the new year.
There were many good things that came with 2017. I love to travel and had the opportunity to co-lead a yoga retreat to Bali, Indonesia in March. In April I took a bucket-list trip to to one of the most remote and misunderstood places on the planet: Easter Island. I was blessed to travel with one of my very closest friends and we couldn't have had a better, more magical, spiritual trip. And then in October I also hit another bucket travel list: I stepped onto the continent of Africa when I took a trip for myself to Morocco! Personally, I was able to spend more time with family and some friends that I hadn't seen in a while as I found myself drawn to reconnecting with many people in my life. And professionally I was blessed to be able to finally work with some of my favorite people on this planet: the athletes of Special Olympics NJ. I am donating my time to working with these athletes and their caregivers in a unified program with SONJ and have been asked to develop a larger program for them too. I am finishing up a new book that has a yogic bend to it and cannot wait to publish it this year. And let's not forget my work with Gwen R. and Yoga4Sobriety, where I get to share my knowledge of yoga for those in and for teachers and therapists who are helping those in ongoing recovery. Wow! Looking back, I am overwhelmed by the amount of positive energy and abundance that I had in my life for 2017!
Of course, where there is light, there is also dark. 2017 started off a little rough for me with my accident. I learned that a head trauma is no joke. And this issue hung around with me throughout the year, providing me with humbling opportunities in which to learn the value of slowing down, simplicity and what is truly important in life. I also had a few other health scares - the least of which is not my latest bought of salmonella poisoning that my body worked through without any medications. Health in 2017 was certainly not the best. But, I look at this all as a sort of cleansing and purification process preparing for 2018.
The biggest challenges for me this past year came from a spiritual conundrum of sorts. As a small business owner, I work a lot of hours that people do not see on the computer, with billing and marketing, answering phone calls, emails and texts from students and more. Taking time off for my health, having a slow summer at the yoga studio and having to cancel events ushered in an anxiety that I never had before. When revenue slows down, I have to figure out new ways to generate income...and this usually means working more. But the universe put things in place to slow me down and put me out of commission. I often found my ego and spirit in an intense game of tug-of-war! I love what I do and I do what I love. So I'm still figuring out how to balance it all: to nurture myself and take care of my health while still owning thriving businesses that help change lives for the better.
There are no surprises in life. January's card is COMPASSION. I find that I have so much compassion for others and helping people find their purpose and work through their journey, but I have little compassion for myself or taking time to work through my own things. This energy goes deep for me - this is past life stuff, karmic stuff, and archetypal stuff. These are some of my deep-seeded spiritual issues, and it is, of course, with perfect timing that the universe has me working through it now.
Ah, but there is hope! 2018 has sprung and a new year has begun. Hard work does pay off. But I have a feeling that what the future holds is not always going to be "business as usual." And this is goes for many of us. I find some key words for me for 2018 are mentoring and ministering. I still plan on teaching yoga and offering trainings and workshops at One Yoga Center - as long as you show up for them! So if you have been "meaning to" get back to your practice - now is the time!
I'll end by offering you some questions in which to ponder for this year:
What energy does your spirit want for you for 2018? An how can you bring more compassion into your life?
With Love & Compassion,
Tracey L. Ulshafer, Founder, One Yoga & Wellness Center LLC, Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hours (E-RYT500), RYS, CMT, Energy Worker, True One.
PS If you want to learn some "key words" for yourself for 2018, schedule an card reading with me today! It's a great way to start the year with perfectly clear intentions.