Browsing Tag

retreat

Mother’s Day Retreat in Ojai, California

May 6, 2016

“Jennifer Pastiloff is a conduit of awakenings.” ~ Cheryl Strayed, author of WILD.

This Magical Yoga Retreat At A Beautiful Rustic Eco-Sanctuary In Ojai, California
3 Day Mother’s Day Weekend Retreat Ojai, Ca 2016
Friday-Saturday-Sunday
May 6th – 7th – 8th
If You Would Like To Attend: Please email info@jenniferpastiloff.com. Jen loves to know something about you and why you would like to attend.
Pricing/ Rooms
For More Information Contact: Barbara 702 524-5686 or Email info@jenniferpastiloff.com

“You Don’t Have To Be A Mother – Just A Human Being With A Heart” – Jen xoxoxo

Yoga Experience Not Required. Read this to get an idea of what it is like.

Or this.

Join Jennifer Pastiloff for her popular Manifestation Yoga Retreat®

at a rustic
eco-sanctuary in Ojai, California during the Mother’s Day Weekend Fri-Sat-Sun.
Arrival May 6th 2 p.m. – May 7th – Departure May 8th 1 p.m. 2016.
The retreat will feature yoga with journaling, Manifestation workshops, meditation, wine
tasting, a dance party, wonderful vegetarian food, swimming (if warm enough),
hot tub & hiking. You can just relax at your leisure and enjoy the surroundings.
Not Included But Available As An Option Will Be: Massages & healing sessions
and a class with Chef Caspar Poyck $40.00,

This retreat sells out very fast so reserve your spot today by putting down a $200
non-refundable, non-transferable deposit.
Cancellation information here.

 

This retreat is for women and non-gender conforming folks.

 

Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.

She listens.

She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.

Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.

And what her kind of listening does is simple:

It saves lives. ~ author Jane Eaton Hamilton.

 

*Featured image by T. Chick McClure

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Young Voices

What Jen Pastiloff’s Retreat is Like: According to a 22 Year Old.

January 21, 2016

By Haley Jakobson.
Imagine you are 22 and freshly graduated and suddenly sucked into the city of New York like a vacuum, dust pounding into your ears and grit clouding your eyes. Imagine that you feel very alone, despite your dad being a ride away on the 6 train and your college friends scattered around Manhattan like bread crumbs. Imagine you are depressed with a heavy coating of anxiety, a strong nail lacquer that you can’t chip off with the underside of your fingernail. And now you are at work, and despite all of these things, or maybe because of them, work still bored you and you find yourself scrolling through the vortex of your Instagram feed.

This is when you find her. Somewhere buried beneath the yoga pictures that intimidate you and the dogma that comes with them that sometimes bites you from inside the screen, somewhere beyond the pictures of Saturday night snapshots that might have been forgotten otherwise, and hungover Sunday brunch photos you were invited to be a part of but were too sad to join – you find her. She says: “girl power you are enough.” She says “fuck.” A lot. She says, “don’t be an asshole.” Well, duh, you think – and then remember how often you forget this. You read on. Continue Reading…

Fall Tuscany Retreat.

September 26, 2015

Sep 26- Oct 3, 2015.

*Please send email to info@jenniferpastiloff.com letting us know why you want to attend. This is an intimate retreat. We can’t wait to have you! This is Jen’s 5th year doing Manifesting Under The Tuscan Sun!  Please note that Joe Longo will be leading meditations at this retreat and he will be our resident photographer. Check him out here.

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Please read this so you understand what Jen’s retreat is like.

And this.

Join Jennifer Pastiloff of Manifestation Yoga® on an excursion to Italy for some yoga, journaling & writing for all levels, delicious food, wine,

an occasional dance party, seeing the gorgeous countryside and whatever else your heart may desire. These classes are more than just Asana. There is writing/journaling and sharing outloud –It is not your typical yoga retreat. La Dolce Vita! Please read this before you send your email in

 

Ebbio is a magical place surrounded by an evergreen forest, nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano

that was sacred to the Etruscans. Located in the breathtaking countryside of Tuscany, it is only 42

km from Florence, 11 km from Siena, 9 km from Castellini in Chianti and 1km from Monteriggioni,

a little medieval jewel.

 

Ebbio is an 800 year old classic rustic Tuscan farmhouse converted into a charming yoga retreat. Looking

out one of the many windows of the different accommodations in Ebbio, you will be captivated by the

undulating hills swept with thriving vineyards, olive trees and enchanting evergreen forests. The

amazing part of Ebbio is that it is still a working, organic Tuscan farm with its own

Chianti wine production and delicious Olive Oil.

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Ebbio’s kitchen serves vegetarian meals only. Most of the produce comes from their organic production.

The picnic on the day of the ocean excursion is included. Meals are served in the outside porch if

the weather is warm and not raining; otherwise they will be served upstairs where the bedrooms

are also located in a common living/dining room.  That room is a living/gathering place where

there is quiet time between 10 pm and 6 am to respect the people sleeping on the 2nd floor.

 

Water and seasonal fruit are available throughout the day.

 

The accommodations are in double, triple or quadruple rooms.  All rooms are shared, cute

and cozy & have a special name. There is about 1 bathroom for every 2 rooms. All bathrooms

are different, some with showers, some with bathtubs. There is also a bathroom with showers

off the yoga room with privacy for two people. Please remember this is a very rustic 800 year

old stone Tuscan Farmhouse with open windows & fresh air and you will hear animal noises.

 

This retreat will be held at  Ebbio in Tuscany, Italy a short walking distance

from the ancient town of Montereggioni. You will have time to explore on your own.

Prices include:

7 night/8 day shared accommodations

Three Daily vegetarian meals at Ebbio including wine with lunch & dinner and fresh

fruit available during the day (dinner on arrival day and breakfast on departure day)

(Lunch is not provided by Ebbio on full excursion day trips.

Daily Journaling/Yoga or Manifestation Workshop on most days

except full excursion days.

A day-trip visit to a thermal hot springs. Terme San Giovanni Rapolano.

The entrance fee is covered by us. There are services there that you may

want to take advantage of at your expense

There will be one excursion after lunch to a local town in Chianti with winery/wine tasting.

There will also be a day trip transportation included to the wonderful town of Siena.

(Your lunch while there will be self-catered and not provided by Ebbio).

Once you are there you are on your own to shop, explore the cobblestone streets

and have fun until we meet to be taken back to Ebbio. You will have dinner upon

returning to Ebbio. Be sure to see the magnificent Duomo di Siena while

you are exploring the town. We will be going on Wednesday when they

have the market day in town . Streets are filled with stalls with selling

everything including clothing. This is where the locals shop.

A day-trip excursion to the town of San Gimignano/Volterra

with a Pecorino cheese tasting first.

(Your lunch while there will be self-catered and not provided by Ebbio).

You will return to Ebbio for dinner.

You can simply explore on foot or rent a bicycle to explore the hills around Ebbio.

You can walk to the ancient town of Monteriggioni which is about 1 km away

Note: The itinerary can be changed at any time by the discretion

of the organizer or due to weather or other unforeseen

circumstances.

Driving To Ebbio/Taxi From Siena Train Station

If you are driving to Ebbio, simply reach Monteriggioni Castle and go to the local information center directly next to the

church. From there, they will direct you to Ebbio. If you miss your pick-up at Siena Train Station you can take a taxi.

Here is the address for the cabbie: Ebbio, Strada del Gallinaio – 53035 Monteriggioni, (Siena, Toscana)

All Rooms & Bathrooms Are Shared. Accommodations see below.

A $500 Non-Refundable/Non-Transferable Deposit Secures Your Space

Deposit – PAYPAL- Credit Card, ATM Sign Contract & Fax

Balance due by check please contact Barbara for mailing address. Balance due by July 25th, 2015

Note: Please Read Contract , Sign & Fax to: 661 825-8104

The Consent Contract Must Be Returned For You To Be Able To Attend The Rereat

Flying To Ebbio

*Retreat cost does not include airfare. Check for the best prices to Florence or Rome or Pisa.

You can take a train to Siena Train Station from your arrival airport where you will be picked up on

arrival day at 1 pm or 4 pm.

Time to get to Siena by train: Rome 3 hours, Florence 1.5 hours, Pisa 2 hours.

Note: (If you miss your pick up time at the Siena Train Station on September 26th (1 or 4 pm)

you can take a taxi to Ebbio for around 30 euro estimated. Four people can share a taxi. )

Important: Do not book your return flight home for the same day the retreat

ends on October 3rd. You will be driven to the Siena Train Station in the morning after a light breakfast on

departure day Oct 3rd around 10 a.m. . The airports are a distance from the retreat and most flights leave in the early

morning. Take some time to explore the towns you are flying out of before the day of your return flight and spend

the a night or two there. This is Italy!! Helpful tip: If you are planning on visiting Florence after the retreat then

fly into Florence or if you plan on visiting Rome after the retreat then fly into Rome the same with Pisa.

You can also fly in to one airport and fly out from another if you plan to do some traveling.

 

*PRICING $2300All rooms & baths are shared. Flight Is Not Included.Balance is due by check in US funds by July 25th, 2015(Sending In Your Deposit Means You Have Read Contract Terms & Conditions And Have Accepted It)If balance is not received by July 25th we reserve the right to consider your booking as cancelled.(See Contract) The Contract Must Also Be Signed, Sent In & Received After You Send Your Deposit

In Order For You To Be Able To Attend.

 

**If you are considering coming on this retreat please email to apply.  Please let Jen know why

you want to come and be part of this group as space is limited and she would love to know something

about you. General questions about retreat please email or call Barbara 702 524-5686.

 

If you like Italy, writing/journaling, yoga, wine, organic vegetarian food and relaxation then join

Jennifer Pastiloff in Tuscany! This retreat is about sharing out-loud, connecting and there will be writing.

The main focus is “not Asana”. This is her yearly retreat to Italy and she looks forward to sharing some of

her favorite places with you, all wrapped in the comfort of journaling, Manifestation Workshops &

especially connecting with amazing people, laughter & joy with an occasional dance party too!!!

Don’t Forget to Bring: – Valid Passport– Comfortable clothing for yoga and movement-

– Slip-on shoes for indoors-

(Shoes are not permitted in Yoga Studio)

 

-Walking shoes and clothing for outdoors and hiking trails

sunscreen, hat and sunglasses-

 

– Camera, extra batteries & chargers-

 

~Toiletries shampoo & conditioner & any medicines you may need~

 

-Casual clothes for any excursions

you may take-

 

-Bathing suit (sunscreen, hat, sandals, water shoes, flip flops etc.

for the hot-spring and in case it is warm enough for the beach.~

 

~Save room in your luggage for any clothing you may buy while there~

 

-Water bottle to fill during your stay-

(Filtered water on premises)

 

-Italian AC adapter (for 220V compatible electronics)-

(Please do not bring electronics with heating elements)

There is (1) hairdryer at Ebbio to share.

 

-Insect repellent-

 

-You can hand-wash your clothes and line-dry outside while there-

 

-The farmhouse provides linen and towels.-

 

-Sheets are the same for 1 week. There is a change of towels in mid-week.-

 

-Yoga Mats are provided by Ebbio-

 

~A light jacket in case it is chilly~

 

~Something to cover your shoulders while visiting churches~

 

-A Journal for Jen’s Classes-

 

~Your Happy Face & A Sense of Humor~

 

Note:~Travel Insurance Is Required~

Contact Barbara For More Info702-524-5686 or Email
Photograph Barbara PotterLove Outside My Bedroom Window
Jennifer Pastiloff’sManifestation Yoga Retreats®
Exploring Surrounding AreaMonteriggioni  (5 minutes drive or you can easily walk whenever you want). There areplenty of Tuscan hills to walk and enjoy by foot or bicycle (rental available).On Site Activities At An Additional Charge Paid In Cash (euro)You can arrange with Franz the owner of Ebbio for these when you are there.

 

Horseback Riding (€20/Hour), Mountain Biking (€20/Day), Hiking With Guide (€20/Hour)

 

Hiking with Donkey & Guide (€20/Hour) Hot Tub (€20/Hour) Max 4 People

Gratuities & Other InfoTaxes are included however gratuities for housekeepers and drivers are welcomewhich is given on the departure day if you like.Please use your cell phone in the privacy of your own room.Please don’t count on having at WiFi signal at Ebbio.

Check with your cell phone provider before going to make sure you

are signed up for International Service and Data Plans.

 

The retreat is a smoke-free environment. Synthetic fragrances, perfumes

and colognes are not permitted.

 

Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. while using the main upstairs gathering room/dining

room on the 2nd floor to ensure a peaceful retreat for everyone. You may use the room

during those hours but please be mindful of others sleeping on the 2nd floor.

 

All bedrooms (except for the apt suite located outside of the farmhouse and the bodywork

room) are on the 2nd floor of the main farmhouse. Built in the 1300s the floors are stone

and tile. They can be cool in the non-summer months. Bring slippers.

 

There is a massage room downstairs at Ebbio next to the Yoga Studio and a local massage

therapist is available that can be called in for optional massages at your

expense in cash (euro).

Funds In Italy You can exchange your US Dollars for euro in SienaNote: The exchange rates change all the time and may be different in June/JulySome credit cards do not charge fees for shopping in Italy-check with your bank.  Most other cards do as much as 5% fee.Please remember that cash in euro is what is accepted in most places especially the outdoor vendors in Siena on Market

Day. Restaurants & stores accept cards. Check with your bank to see if they have a sister bank in Italy. Usually you can

withdraw euro from your account with no fee  with your ATM card at one of those places.

There are no ATM machines at Ebbio on site.

*ACCOMMODATIONS SHARED:This is an 800 year old Tuscan Farmhouse without air conditioning.It is not a spa or a modern hotel and air comes from the windows.All bedrooms & bathrooms are dormitory style/shared and are on the 2nd floor.A few of the rooms are for 2, most are for 3 and two are for 4 people.There are steps leading up to a sleeping loft inside of two of the

bedrooms. There are no private rooms available.

 

The rate is based per person (Min in a room is 2 people).

If we have space (s) for a couple you can be in a room for 2

people only so we suggest you book early as it fills up fast

if that will be your situation.

Combined Max total capacity 27

The retreat leader Jennifer Pastiloff retains the right to change anything on this itinerary due toweather or other circumstances according to her discretion.  During the times when excursionsare not planned (all are optional) you can enjoy your time on your own.
Driving To Ebbio/Taxi From Siena Train StationIf you are driving to Ebbio, simply reach Monteriggioni Castle and go to the local information center directly next to thechurch. From there, they will direct you to Ebbio. If you miss your pick-up at Siena Train Station you can take a taxi.Here is the address for the cabbie: Ebbio, Strada del Gallinaio – 53035  Monteriggioni,  (Siena,  Toscana)
All Rooms & Bathrooms Are Shared. Accommodations see below.A $500 Non-Refundable/Non-Transferable Deposit Secures Your SpaceDeposit – PAYPAL- Credit Card, ATM   Sign Contract & FaxBalance due by check please contact Barbara for mailing address. Balance due by July 25th, 2015

Don’t Forget to Bring:

– Valid Passport-

– Comfortable clothing for yoga and movement-

– Slip-on shoes for indoors-

(Shoes are not permitted in Yoga Studio)

-Walking shoes and clothing for outdoors and hiking trails

sunscreen, hat and sunglasses-

– Camera, extra batteries & chargers-

~Toiletries shampoo & conditioner & any medicines you may need~

-Casual clothes for any excursions

you may take-

-Bathing suit (sunscreen, hat, sandals, water shoes, flip flops etc.

for the hot-spring and in case it is warm enough for the beach.~

~Save room in your luggage for any clothing you may buy while there~

-Water bottle to fill during your stay-

(Filtered water on premises)

-Italian AC adapter (for 220V compatible electronics)-

(Please do not bring electronics with heating elements)

There is (1) hairdryer at Ebbio to share.

-Insect repellent-

-You can hand-wash your clothes and line-dry outside while there-

-The farmhouse provides linen and towels.-

-Sheets are the same for 1 week. There is a change of towels in mid-week.-

-Yoga Mats are provided by Ebbio-

~A light jacket in case it is chilly~

~Something to cover your shoulders while visiting churches~

-A Journal for Jen’s Classes-

~Your Happy Face & A Sense of Humor~

Note:~Travel Insurance Is Required~

 

*Photo by Linda Hooper.

Contests & Giveaways, Gender & Sexuality, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts

Essay Winner of Jen Pastiloff & Emily Rapp’s Vermont Retreat!

September 14, 2015

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station: 

This was not easy. This is not easy. I had one spot to give away to our retreat (and yes, we will do it again next year as this is our third year leading the Vermont retreat.) I had one spot which then turned into FOUR, thanks to various generous donors including Lidia Yuknavitch, Amy Ferris, Elizabeth Quant and three others.

And yet and still, we have 70 essays to get through. You read that right: 70. In just a few days, 70 essays piled in.

I sat reading through all of them with eyes spilling over. I was so moved that I decided I could not stop here. I would keep giving and finding ways to be of service. My teacher and mentor, Dr. Wayne Dyer, passed away last week- that was his big message. How many I serve? 

I intend to carry on that legacy.

I decided I could not stop at these 4 spots to Vermont so I am giving away 3 spots to my New Years Retreat in Ojai, California as well. Nothing makes me feel better than to do this.

I also have 20 spots to give away to my Girl Power: You Are Enough workshop for teens next weekend in Princeton and NYC. Ten available for each workshop. Email me for a spot. I want girls who could not afford the cost to be able to attend. Here are the details. Please note: the Princeton workshop is 13 and up and the NYC workshop is 16 and up.

And yet and still, there are so many others that were not chosen. There was not one essay that didn’t move me. There was not one essay that did not want me to push through my computer screen and embrace the woman who wrote it. Not one. I had a team helping me as I could not do this alone. I think we need to remember that more often: we cannot do this alone.

How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.

Which brings me to my first winner. Her essay floored us but her friends also wrote in on her behalf, unbeknownst to her. How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved indeed. Jena Schwartz is the first recipient of the four scholarships and I am proud to share her essay below with you. She has been notified and will be attending the retreat with Emily and I next month in Stowe. She is over the moon. The retreat is sold out. Congratulations to Jena. I hope you all will be moved to share this. I know I was.

At the end of my life, when I ask one final, “What have I done?” Let my answer be, “I have done love.”

Love, Jen Pastiloff

sillhouette

 

Free Associating about Fear & Faith (Or, What I’ve Forgotten)
By Jena Schwartz

In this moment of sitting down to write, there’s the lump in my throat and the tears behind my eyes and the tension of holding them in. There’s fear. And behind that, faith. And there’s something I’ve forgotten that needs remembering. It has to do with connection, to myself, to moving slowly and having enough time and trusting that shit always work out in the end, and that there’s no end, only the unfolding of our days and the thank you. The thank you I need to remember to say, in the morning and at night.

Mani, my beloved wife of one year come September 27, is not feeling well this morning. She is shaky and nauseous. She drank an Ensure and rolled onto her side to try to sleep; she did not sleep well during the night. She is getting better. Two steps forward, one back. Like the two-step dance that magical weekend in Phoenix, when I flew out there to meet her and a whole group of us went to the Cash, my first-ever gay bar. Little did we know then, that we’d end up together, much less married!

Most of the time, I’m able to stay in a place of faith and trust. I’m able to stay in the light. I’m able to remember the partnership she and I discovered not only between us but with God, too — how when Rabbi Efraim witnessed and blessed our vows, God was there with us under that chuppah last September 27, the day before her 37th birthday and a few months before I turned 41.
Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, motherhood

Jen Pastiloff, Christy Turlington Burns & Every Mother Counts Give Back This Mother’s Day.

April 22, 2015

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Do good for yourself, while helping us improve maternal health. Join me over Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-10th, for a 3 day retreat in Ojai, CA, where a portion of proceeds will benefit Christy Turlington’s Every Mother Counts. Please mention the organization when booking. Click here to sign up or email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com.

Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.

They inform, engage, and mobilize new audiences to take actions and raise funds that support maternal health programs around the world.

To join in this retreat you do Not have to be a mother. Just be a human being with a heart. No yoga experience required although there will be some yoga within the workshops.

I am so excited to support my friend Christy and EMC!

Christy Turlington Burns is a mother, social entrepreneur, model, and founder of Every Mother Counts. Having endured a childbirth complication herself, Christy was compelled to direct and produce the documentary, No Woman, No Cry about maternal health challenges that impact the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. As a result of her global advocacy work she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of The Year in 2013, and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative Minds in 2013. Prior to her work as a global maternal health advocate, Christy enjoyed a successful career as a model while continuing her education and pursuing other interests. She has co-created public health communications campaigns about smoking cessation and prevention since 1997 and launched an award-winning website, SmokingIsUgly.com. Christy is also the author of Living Yoga: Creating A Life Practice (Hyperion 2002) and has written countless articles, essays and op-eds for magazines and newspapers on the subjects of wellness, maternal health, feminism, poverty eradication and human rights. Christy is a member of the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors and on the advisory Board of New York University’s Nursing School. She holds a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies and has studied Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A three-time marathon finisher, Christy resides in New York City where she lives with her husband, filmmaker Edward Burns, and their two children.

ps, Christy is running the London Marathon this coming weekend on 4/26 to raise funds and awareness about the fact that thousands of women and girls still live too far away from the care and supplies needed to ensure safe motherhood. You can check it out here. 

I love you , Christy!

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Mother's Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being.  Click photo to book.   "Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing. She listens. She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you. Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening. And what her kind of listening does is simple: It saves lives." ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Mother’s Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. Click photo to book.
“Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.
She listens.
She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.
Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.
And what her kind of listening does is simple:
It saves lives.” ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Jen's Musings, Owning It!

Here’s What The F*ck I Am Going To Do About It.

February 26, 2015

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By Jen Pastiloff.

For Lidia Yuknavitch, my teacher, my heart sister, my friend.

I haven’t blogged in a while so here I am. Hi, hello, hi. I’m in Los Angeles, here at home for a few days before I hit the road again for more workshops.

A few weeks ago, I led a retreat in Ojai, California, with Lidia Yuknavitch, who wrote The Chronology of Water. The Writing & The Body Retreat. And yes, it was everything you’d imagine- and then some. And yes, we are doing it again in September.

In my own workshops, I ask people to write about the things that get in their way and the fears they have and what they are afraid of. I ask them to write and share about all sorts of things. That’s why the subtitle is On Being Human. It is not a “writing” workshop, per se, although there’s writing. Mostly, it’s about what it means to be a human being. They laugh and cry and let the snot fly, as I like to say.

And then I always ask this: Now what? Now what?

So you wrote about it and shared it out loud and you may “want to be a writer” and you may not, no matter really, what really matters is this: what now?

Writing and sharing is hard, and I think a pretty big deal, but you can write until you are blue in the face and go on retreats and camps and workshops and whatever but what are you going to do?

This is where I get stuck.

I talk a good talk.

But then I sit here and stare out the window all day.

So, when Lidia gives a prompt that is so similar to what I ask except she asks it in her Lidia-esque way, I know that this woman is my heart. She asks the group what was main thing was that was getting in their way. I participated in this one.

What was getting in my way? She asked us to write down the first thing we thought of.

Okay, done.

My own self gets in my way. Me.

Then she gave this exact prompt, and this is really where I knew I loved her for life, “And here’s what the fuck I am going to do about it.” We had five minutes.

This is what came out of it for me. This is my Now what?

Continue Reading…

Manifestation Weekend Retreat: On Being Human at Kripalu.

February 19, 2015

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This is for everyone.

berkshiresdotorg
This weekend is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are and what you want in a workshop that combines writing and asana, and has been known to include a dance party or two!

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Jennifer Pastiloff’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.

Jennifer invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free.
Note: Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. (The last one is a MUST!)

Below is a teenage girl, Karolina,

 

 

that came last year with her beautiful mom. They had no idea what they had signed up for. This is what she had to say…

 

 

depression, Eating Disorders/Healing, healing

Jen Gets Really Real on XOJane today. Real Talk on Depression.

April 11, 2014

Beloveds,

I have a piece up right now on xojane (what an honor!) and it was so scary to send out into the world that I am quaking in my boots a bit. Nonetheless, I did. I sent it out into the world because I think it is a very important dialogue. And also, I have a commitment as a writer to be as brave as can be and to be a risk-taker. So. Please read, comment and share. I am not suggesting anyone go off their meds. I simply want to bring light to what is often kept hidden. Love you guys. Here’s the link http://www.xojane.com/issues/i-have-a-near-cult-like-following-and-lead-retreats-around-the-world-and-im-struggling-more-than-ever.

If you want to tweet, copy and paste this: @jenpastiloff talks about depression honestly on @xojane http://tinyurl.com/q6or54x

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Thanks for your support. It’s my first essay on XOJANE and I am ecstatic (if not a little freaked out at how honest I was.) xojen

 

And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, Guest Posts, healing, Manifestation Retreats

The Changing of a Life by Katie Devine.

January 30, 2014

 It happens to be Katie’s birthday on January 30th, the day of this posting!)

I walked slowly, accompanied only by the broken disc in my spine and a fuzzy Vicodin hangover, to Cedars Sinai Hospital for back surgery.

I can hear how it sounds when I tell people now about my solo venture. Strange, desperate, crazy even, though I suppose it felt normal then, or at least like the best option I could come up with at the time. I had only been in Los Angeles for two months, and had no “in case of emergency” person programmed into my phone, or into what was supposed to be my new, perfect life. I had left New York feeling defeated by a city that I could never make feel like home, only to end up feeling beaten again, just by a different coast.

Two weeks earlier, I had taken a cab to my first-ever emergency room visit, because I was too embarrassed to call an ambulance for help while sobbing in my sunny, yellow and white kitchen. As I cried in the backseat of the taxi, not-so-silent tears running down my cheeks, the cab driver seemed nonplussed, as if he had seen it all before, as if there was nothing original about me, especially my pain.

So when my scheduled surgery date arrived, I chose to walk the half-mile to the hospital instead. I remember calling my mom, across the country in New Jersey, straining to hear her voice over the traffic noise on Third Street in a city where no one walks, trying to reassure her that I was fine. I was testing myself, perhaps, proving I could still walk a half-mile, before going under the knife and whatever would happen there. They make you sign a release form that says you might not walk again. It also says you might die, but you can’t dwell on that.

A nurse, who smelled faintly of antiseptic and rubber-soled shoes, checked me into pre-op before the doctor arrived and asked who was waiting to bring me home after surgery. No one is waiting for me; I’ll be fine, I told her resolutely, silencing her questions. She didn’t inquire further; she just looked at me sadly, as though being alone was the real tragedy rather than that broken fragment of disc floating around my lower back.

There is a difference between the look that says Oh you poor thing, going into surgery, and Oh you poor thing, going into surgery, and you’re alone.

She didn’t realize that alone is what I know. It’s where I’m comfortable. Loneliness has been a faithful companion to me, the kind of loneliness that comes from never showing anyone your truest self, because you’re sure if they saw the real you, they would run the opposite direction and you would be alone anyway.

The weeks following surgery were mostly spent in a self-imposed solitary confinement, on my couch, watching trashy TV or just staring out the window. June gloom, they call it in Los Angeles, where a cool mist hangs over everything, sometimes allowing a hazy sun to shine through in the afternoons, but not that summer. That summer the darkness never lifted, outside or inside. It pressed down on me like a lover whose weight was crushing the breath and life out of me, but from whom I didn’t know how to escape.

At night, I would cry. Because I thought I might never feel better. Because I feared I would never be able to run, or practice yoga, or do anything I wanted to do, ever again. Mostly because I worried I would feel this alone forever.

I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know how to accept the help that was offered. How could I let anyone know what was really going on, that I was not fine?

Who was I to ask someone to save me?

*******

I wonder if I have ever felt like I was good enough.

There have been glimpses, here and there, certainly. Maybe for a few longer moments, like the time in the sixth grade when I got to play one of the leads in the school musical, and had the most lines in the show (I counted). There was me, center stage, with my ill-advised bangs, and braces, and acne, and I think I even had a perm, and my costume was my own souvenir t-shirt from our trip to Florida with something scrolled across the back in neon.

I must have bragged about my stardom more than once. A family friend made some remark to the effect of, “well, aren’t you proud of yourself” with her eyebrows raised, and I knew instantly that this was a bad thing, being proud of myself, or maybe just talking about it. I can still feel the flaming in my cheeks and the burning pit of shame in my stomach.  And I immediately was knocked back down to not good enough, remembering that I hadn’t even gotten the role in the first place. I had only gotten it because someone dropped out or got sick and they needed someone else to fill in and I was available since I hadn’t made the cut the first time around.

And then I remembered that I also didn’t make the choir that year either, the special choir that you had to audition for that got to go to Hershey Park at the end of the year. You could smell the chocolate in the air all the way from the highway, and the ones who made it would get to spend the whole day running around the park, eating chocolate and riding roller coasters before they got on stage to sing “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Candle on the Water” in a competition that would award trophies to the winners.  I got to go anyway that year, at the last minute, because someone else dropped out, or got sick, and they needed someone to fill in.

I resigned myself to being the fill-in, since I never seemed to be good enough to be what I wanted: the first choice.

******

So I adapted. By following things that came easily, that involved less risk, that were safe. But always looking over my shoulder for that voice that would tell me that I wasn’t good enough.

And what you look for, you find.

When the soccer coach suggested that I wasn’t likely to be a starter on next year’s team, I took it as a cue to stop playing. I’m not good enough.

When the algebra teacher said, “well, I’m not trying to make you feel stupid”, I accepted that I was doomed to fail algebra. I’m not good enough.

When I was dumped, from yet another failed relationship. I’m not good enough.

When the voice teacher said “you’ll never be one of the great opera singers”, I said ok, and thank you and I guess I’ll transfer into the business school. I’m not good enough.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me that it might not be true.

When the refrain of I’m not good enough plays on an endless loop in your head, you start to hear it in surround sound. It becomes easier to just not try. You can avoid rejection if you never open yourself up enough to be rejected.

You reject yourself before anyone else can.

Until you meet someone who doesn’t allow it anymore.

******

Another surgery, nearly four years later. This time I can drive myself, to the dentist’s office where my gums will be fixed. The nurse here gives me that Oh you poor thing look, but it’s not the one I had dreaded, full of pity and judgment. There’s just simple empathy this time. I settled on my couch afterwards, anxiously prepared for a repeat performance of lonely, party of one.

Except, this time, things are different. I am different.

The evidence was all around me. There was my friend, outside my house that first night with a balloon and cookies for me, unexpected and uninvited, but not at all unwelcomed. And then the next day, another friend stopped by to visit and eat ice cream and remind me that I wasn’t at all alone. Yet another friend offered to bring me soup or mashed potatoes, and checked in on me regularly. And the next day it happened again. All at once, there was no room for loneliness on my couch.

And in the spaces between visits, there was no crying this time, no gloom. Instead, there was reading, thinking, writing. Not ever knowing if it would be good enough but doing it anyway. Coming to understand that maybe, just maybe, there is no good enough.

What was closed is now opening. What was dejected is now hopeful. What was empty is now filling, slowly but surely.

This is what happens, I think. This is what happens when a life blossoms.

******

You asked me to tell you how my life has changed and I couldn’t tell you.

You asked me to write about what was different and I couldn’t find the words.

But I can point. To what was before, and what is now.

This. THIS is how a life is changed.

A single email, sent to you in desperation, late one night, that opens the floodgates.  The unearthing of the art that opens my heart, and fills my soul. Five retreats, each of them moving me closer to the life I didn’t even know I always wanted. The self-confidence, and also humility that comes from traveling to foreign lands, bringing experiences that forever alter my perspective and expand my thinking. The safety that exists within a supportive tribe of people, who allow for trial and failure, and picking myself back up again and doing better next time. The stripping down of relationships, often painfully, to their core, in order to rebuild them, this time from a place of truth. The forming of new ones, for all of the right reasons this time.

The softness brought on by vulnerability, after so many years of the hardness of I’m fines. Learning to actually say, out loud, I’m not fine. Countless yoga classes, with mantras like kindness and gratitude, which brought about the gradual quieting of that I’m not good enough refrain, no longer looked for or heard in surround sound. Posing in downdog atop a horse, unsure of what it looked like, or what might happen next, but feeling both free and grounded instead of my usual anxiety. The awareness and acceptance of the need for help, and the grasping for it when it arrives. Taking risks, small ones perhaps, but risks nonetheless. The sighting of beauty all around me, where before there had been blindness.

The right person, at the right time, answering that desperate email, believing in you, and in who you can become.

This. This is how a life is changed.

***

Katie chronicles her journeys on her blog Confessions of An Imperfect Life. Her work has appeared on sites including Thought Catalog, XOJane, The Manifest-Station, MindBodyGreen, Medium and Rebelle Society. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Manifestation Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. 

And So It Is, Guest Posts, Making Shit Happen, Manifestation Retreats

Are You Full Of Things That Aren’t Serving You?

January 13, 2014

One of the women from my last retreat wrote this, and, with permission, I am sharing. 

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Okay, I am not a writer or a poet but I am compelled to put in writing the changes already taking place in my life not 48 hours after closing circle of Jen’s retreat. Going into the retreat this past week, I was stuck. Really, really stuck. Scared of connecting with anyone because I already felt completely depleted.

Isolation was the only thing that felt safe.

I found this retreat because I was looking for space to find my true authentic self again. Throughout the retreat thoughts, images, and a feeling of who I was “before”, started to emerge.

Jen’s words “begin again”. Jen asking “How will you serve?” Her words “what do you need to let go of?” These stuck in my mind and I found myself unable to sleep thinking about them.

Then Jen said something life changing thing for me, “You have to let go of things you don’t want to make space for what you do.” It clicked.

I was full of things I needed to let go of leaving no room for the things I wanted. I am kind of amazed her words stuck like they did considering at the time I was trying to keep up with the whole Vinyasa’ing thing. But I heard her and I watched others let go of their fear and then I felt myself begin to let go of my own.

I could then begin to hear what my heart had been saying all along, “I want connection”, “I want my purpose to be revealed to me”, “I want to use all of my gifts.” I hit Fawntice’s gong on the New Year’s Eve and sent it that sound, that vibration out -knowing opportunities for connection were all ready on their way.

Which brings me to yesterday morning….

Scouring Facebook for more photos from the retreat, missing my new friends already, I noticed a post on a local mom’s board from a 17 year old girl who is due to have a baby girl in 3 months.

She posted, asking for help. Clearly scared, with no job and only a few baby clothes. She was asking for any used baby items to help her prepare for the baby admitting she didn’t really even know what she needed. I smile a deep soul smile. Jen’s voice “how will you serve?” echoed. Not even 48 hours after the Manifestation Retreat and in front of me on the computer screen was an opportunity for connection.

Of course I could just donate baby things since I have a 6 month old baby girl. But I also have gifts. I am a trained birth and postpartum doula but I have never used the training.

I wrote her and offered all the baby essentials I have to give but I also offered support. I offered love and connection. She was thrilled and was willing to meet today. There are so many excuses I could have and would have given myself for not reaching out in this way, I am a recent single mother to 3 kids under 5, I don’t have business cards and should go to school and get more training first. More schooling and a complete website with business cards, tend to be my favorite excuses.

But reaching out is beginning again, it’s letting go of fear and it is one way I can serve someone else. So I did it.

Jen reaching out to me, and a room full of beautiful others inspired me to reach out.

**

I was going to end this here but what happened today at the meeting with the girl was so moving I have to share.

I spent an hour with her at a coffee shop just talking. It took an hour of letting her talk to get to her real problem. She doesn’t have a safe place to live and she doesn’t have enough food eat. It was midday and she had not had food since lunchtime the day before. I could tell she didn’t want me to know this. She went from being in AP classes, playing 3 sports, performing spoken word poetry and running girls empowerment workshops to doing independent study because she didn’t have enough money to take the bus to school and eat.

I started with getting her lunch and a bag of groceries. Next up: cooking classes and diaper changing 101 at my house. This girl was meant to be in my life. She’d realized we crossed paths at a bus stop 3 months ago and had a short conversation.

I didn’t need a website to connect with her and make a difference. I just had to let go of my shit and say yes.

Thank you Jen and each one of you for putting me in a place where I could open my heart to this girl. It is just a small thing, but it’s the beginning.

This is going to be a great year.

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To learn more about retreats with Jen or to book one, click here. http://jenniferpastiloff.com/Yoga_Retreats_With_Jen_Pastiloff.html.

Gratitude, Guest Posts, healing, Manifestation Retreats

Thank You Big.

November 20, 2013

Bali… One Year Later…..

By Lockey Mitten Maisonneuve

A year ago this month,  I left my two children, my husband and my job for an 11 day adventure. I went to a Manifestation Retreat led by Jen Pastiloff in Bali, Indonesia.  As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, The retreat dates included Thanksgiving.  So not only was I traveling half way around the world, I was also missing Thanksgiving with my family.   It was the first time in my life that I did something solely for myself and I was determined to not only go, but for this to be a life-changing trip.

The process of getting ready to go in and of itself was a transformative experience.  In preparing to leave my family and go to the other side of the planet, I was doing what any guilt-ridden, control freak mom would do;  I was trying to plan for and create plans and contingency plans for every possible, albeit unlikely, scenario that might occur in my absence.  I quickly turned this amazing opportunity into a problem, for me and everyone around me.

I always knew I was a control freak and that mommy-guilt was my achilles heel.  But isn’t “knowing” our stuff really the “booby prize”?  It’s when we can actually observe our stuff holding us back and in the moment and consciously choose to make the change – that’s when we get the real prize.  Having this experience in front of me allowed the space for me to observe where guilt and control stop me, and that I can let go and be okay with the situation.

From the very moment my friend and I boarded the plane to fly to Hong Kong for a 19 hour layover, our first leg of the trip, then a 4 hour flight to Bali. The first thing I learned is that a 3 hour flight is very, very different from a 19 hour flight.  Let’s just say that putting a hyper active woman in the middle seat in the back of the plane for a 19 hour flight was not the best idea.  My sincere apologies to the man who sat on the aisle seat in my row. While my friend slept like a baby on the flight, I couldn’t sleep. I had to ask this man to move so many times, we quickly went from polite smiles, to dirty looks and muttering under the breath. Lesson learned; I will never not have an aisle seat on a plane again (it’s sort of a public service.)

During our short stay in Hong Kong, I discovered noodle dishes. Let me just say I would happily get back on a plane for 19 hours just for a bowl of noodles. I just wouldn’t sit in the middle seat.  While enjoying a breakfast of noodles and shrimp a thought occurred to me;  for the first time in my life, I am in a country where I know exactly one person; my friend who is sitting across the table from me.  That’s it.  One person. I’ve never felt so isolated and empowered at the same time.  I knew anything that would happen would be left for us to handle.  I decided then that I would flow like water throughout this trip. I wasn’t going to try to be in control, nor would I feel guilty if I did or didn’t want to do something.  I didn’t want either my friend or me to feel obligated to have to do (or not do) something just because the other one wanted it.  It was a liberating feeling to know that we were on our own.

We met some of our fellow retreat-goers at the airport in Bali.  We got to know each other along the drive to the Soulshine Villa, where we would be spending the next week together. I don’t want to sound all woo woo, but from the moment I met the people I would living with for the next week, I felt a connection to them.  Each of the 19 people attending this retreat had their reasons for being there some shared with the group and some were private. But all 19 of these people touched my life in such a way that I think about them every day.

From the very first day we were a cohesive group.  Due to the time change, we all woke up very early (between 4 and 5am), we would gather in the reception area for tea, some would watch the sun rise, some would be catching up with relatives at home, some would be chatting.  We got to know each other in these early morning hours.

Jenn would lead us in morning yoga at 7am.  I should point out that yoga with Jen is not your average yoga.  There are the traditional asanas (poses), meditation and music (I can’t listen to Elton John or the Notorious B.I.G. without thinking of Jenn).  What Jen brings to the table is unique in that she creates a theme for her class, forgiveness, gratitude, love… she reads relevant poetry, then invites class participants to journal about their thoughts on the theme for the class – in between the poses.  Somehow the mix of the out door yoga studio overlooking rice patties, the monks chanting in the distance, the thought that I was doing yoga in the same place that Michael Franti does yoga (he owns the Soulshine and I am, by far, his BIGGEST fan), she creates a space of safe, self-reflective discovery.

Walls are broken down.

My walls-breaking-down moment was during a forgiveness-themed class. To understand this, I have to provide a bit of background. When I was 12,  I was abused by my father and some of his friends.  Even sharing this is part of my life is a testament to what Jen provides.  Previous to this retreat I would never have told anyone this, let alone writing it in a blog!

In this forgiveness-themed class, Jen asked us who in our lives we could forgive.  At first I did what I always do when I’m asked this question, I thought I’d try (again) to forgive my father.  I started writing the same things I’d written in therapy and on my own. I was getting the same result – I just wasn’t ready to forgive him.  Then, it occurred to me; I never wrote to the other men who abused me. In this letter I verbalized what they took from me, how deeply I hate them and what I have become in spite of what they did to me. I wrote that I am free of them, all of them, they will never have control over me again.

As I wrote this letter, I didn’t realize I was crying until I saw that my paper getting wet.  For some reason this seemed funny to me. I couldn’t stop laughing. Then it was over.  No drama, no anger, no nothing. For the first time in my life I experienced truly letting go. This was also the first time I was able to be in a room full of “strangers” and feel peace.

After class I walked out with Jen, I shared my experience with her.   She turned to me with a smile and said (almost to herself) “huh, you just never know who is going to be in your class.”  We hugged. It was the response I needed to hear.  She didn’t judge me, she didn’t give weight to the experience or get emotional.  She gave me the space to process my feelings in a whole new way.

Throughout the retreat we practiced yoga twice a day, we ate breakfast and dinner together and explored Bali during the day.  The space at the Soulshine seemed to become part of our group as well. (In full disclosure I have to admit that I loved the Soulshine before I arrived simply because of who owns it.) But, in truth, I believe that space provided the opportunity to transform 19 strangers in to a family.  The staff is a living example of the culture of Bali. This culture is one of gratitude, community, spirituality and genuine love. This culture and the space we lived in infused itself with our family of 19.

Throughout our time in Bali we shared, expressed gratitude and loved one another.  We celebrated Thanksgiving, we rode elephants, we saw monkeys, we spoke with Michael Franti on the phone, and I may (or may not) have eaten cat at a restaurant.

I am grateful for every moment I spent in Bali, at the Soulshine, with my family of 19.  I am grateful for what it took for me to get there and for everything I’ve learned since my return.

Thank You Big.

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Lockey began her fitness career as a personal trainer in 2004.  In 2006 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Lockey underwent chemotherapy, bi-lateral mastectomies with saline implant reconstruction and radiation.  During this time, she saw a real need for recovering cancer patients to exercise.  Not just for the physical rehabilitation, but also the mental aspect of regaining control over their bodies.  She believes that if you gain a little more strength and a little more flexibility in your body every day, you gain a little more strength in your soul to continue on.After completing specialized exercise training through the Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Lockey created ‘MovingOn’, a rehabilitative exercise program for cancer patients. With the creation of the MovingOn program, moving through her own experience of survivorship and discovering yoga, Lockey soon learned there is more to MovingOn than simply moving the body.  It became time to share a long held secret that could no longer be hidden.  Lockey shared her story on Positively Positive, of being sexually abused as a child.  Sharing her story and practicing yoga saved her life. When she let go of both the cancer and the secret of abuse she was able to heal in both mind and body. Lockey openly shares her past with cancer and child abuse to help others in what ever they are surviving in their lives.Lockey and the MovingOn program have been profiled in magazines, television, radio, and blogs. Print:  Shape Magazine, Origin Magazine, Overlook Magazine and ParkPlace Magazine.  Television: The Couch, News12 and ABC7. Blog Contributor:  SheKnows.com and MindBodyGreen.She is featured in The Ultimate Guide to Breast Cancer by the Editors of Prevention Magazine.  Recently she presented a vidoechat for the GE Healthcare Breast Cancer Mosaic.

 

**To go on a retreat with Jen visit jenniferpastiloff.com

5 Most Beautiful Things, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats

Ruptured.

September 12, 2013

The following essay by Marika Rosenthal Delan blew me away. She wrote this about my Ojai Manifestation Retreat over Labor Day, which she won as part of a prize for her winning my #5mostbeautifulthings contest.

Aht-lo-le-Vahd

את לא לבד

You are not alone.

It’s the Hebrew phrase that kept ringing through my ear where I attended my first Jennifer Pastiloff  Manifestation Yoga retreat over Labor Day weekend in the oasis of Ojai Valley, California.
It was a weekend packed full of that which we later dubbed “The Jen Pastiloff Experience”.

Complete with all sorts of awesomeness: karaoke yoga, delicious love-filled food, surprise soul-stirring live music, insightful writing, new friends that felt like childhood besties, epiphanies, life-altering conversation, heart-wrenching stories of love and loss, poetry, natural wonders, a little wine, deep talks around the pool about diamonds and time transport of the Whovian persuasion,  and a midnight swim or two under the brightest stars I’ve ever seen (not to mention a handful of shooting stragglers from the end of the Perseid meteor shower that peaked a few weeks ago- which for geeks like me is heaven.)

I could go on all day attempting to describe what we did there and still not capture all that was the magical time we spent in Ojai. You know how words so often fail where the heart is concerned.

Oh, yes, the heart.

I found mine pounding at the thought of facing my fears – the biggest of which was the fear that I would somehow find myself alone amongst all these people. Virtual strangers.
But something unspoken, somewhere trapped under my tongue, there in my quivering voice, was that phrase once again waiting to remind me….

You are not alone.

I found myself involuntarily muttering it aloud in a circle full of exquisitely and intricately beautiful people atop our yoga mats on a floor that reflects light as if it were glass;  and again this morning as I tried to capture the spirit that embodied our time there; trying to describe the feeling that was at the heart of it all; that which I came out knowing in body and spirit what I before only understood in theory.

את לא לבד
Aht lo le-Vahd

Its only fitting that it would be Hebrew that would echo in the valley and in my ear in Ojai. Not that I’m religious, or technically even Jewish by lineage.

I don’t speak Hebrew aside from a few prayers, although I try. I studied diligently for over a year in preparation for my marriage into a Jewish family but never converted. But if we are being authentic here (and isn’t that the whole point?),  I would be amiss if I didn’t say I have felt Jewish from the time I was a young girl and have spent a good part of my life chasing where that feeling came from.

It’s hard to explain the way I feel it in my bones- the way it pulls me inward like metal shavings to a magnet- all my little pieces I thought were lost underfoot somewhere- pulled like splinters out of the floor boards.

But in this sacred space where the veil between here and the nether feels ever so slightly drawn aside, it can be no accident that I’m here just in time to ring in Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and in preparation for the Days of Awe, the highest of the high Holy days.

My last days have indeed been days of awe.

The Universe is clever like that.

Awe? You’ll find it here in droves.

It in the valley rich with succulents thriving in rock in the 100 degree plus desert heat. It’s in the colors of sunrise in the yoga studio doors. It’s in the morning moon where the twilight still lingers and the promise of another day is just over the horizon, a horizon that is literal mountains in 360 degrees. It’s in the trees filled with ripe and heavy fruit, ready to rupture as it hits the ground, giving sustenance as it enters it’s next stage of life, which is death; giving it’s flesh to nourish life still living.

But more than anything I found it in the people who dwelled there together for four awe-inspiring days. It’s in the stories they told of their brokenness.

It wasn’t just figs that were falling to the ground breaking open.

rupture-[ruhp-cher]  noun, verb- rup·tured, rup·tur·ing-  the state of being broken.

I’ve always held the notion that being broken was undesirable, that it branded you damaged somehow.  That even though you would like to forget, that it is necessary for you to carry the scar with you to remind you of your brokenness lest you ever think you are complete just as you are (or maybe that’s just martyrdom disguised as Jewish guilt.)

On the way to Ojai valley, I couldn’t help but notice all the straw hats over bent backs in the fields lining each side of the highway for miles and miles.

Planting,
growing,
sowing,
harvesting—all the things of my childhood on the farm with my own ghosts traipsing through the mud clods and piles of grain so high you could swim in them.

This morning, reading through the scribbles I made in my journal as we drove through the fields on the way to Ojai- an epiphany.

The Divine has been using brokenness to make things whole again since life first began.

It’s when the dirt at summers end has hardened to a tough crust that it must be broken open again in order to bear next season’s fruit.

It’s the rain pouring forth from broken clouds; breaking open to spill the field full of new life pulsing underground.

It’s in the seedling that breaks the surface of the soil as life emerges from the dirt; in the wheat that is thrashed until the beginning of bread has broken.

In the bread that is broken together where strength is born for life to continue evolving.

In the cracks where our hearts have broken now put back together again.

It was seeking my most beautiful things that had brought me to this place and where the breathtakingly beautiful things that happened here brought me so close to the Divine I could taste it. That brought me to my knees in gratitude at the top of the hill behind the yoga studio where I was witness to that neon sunrise reflection in the glass.  In the same dirt from which new life emerges I fell to my knees in awe, in gratitude, in reverence to the life lived before here, while we were here, and to our lives beyond this space- before we packed our things and drove away, before I said my goodbye to the place where I discovered that I’m not so shattered after all.

Broken and made whole again—like this tribe of people, all of us with our own brand of heartbreak, now shining all our light on the mirror, complete with all its cracks, but pieced together for us to finally see the depth of our own beauty.

This tribe of incredible people, willing to bear their souls and their deepest fears; that bear witness to the primordial cry inside all of us.
People willing to bare their broken hearts in front of a room full of virtual strangers.
People with beauty and light so deep and so bright,
if you stared too long it would burn your eyes.

As I drove home with my family and left Ojai valley, watching the mountains and velvet hills and colors and shapes of sunrise in reverse, expecting the sacred space to fade away as we were carried further away from it’s magic, only to find it expanded exponentially as I saw the ocean open up into foreverness. It wasn’t a fading away but a birth of all that was waiting to come alive inside of me and around me.

“But in a way you can say that after leaving the sea, after all those millions of years of living inside of the sea, we took the ocean with us. When a woman makes a baby, she gives it water, inside her body, to grow in. That water inside her body is almost exactly the same as the water of the sea. It is salty, by just the same amount. She makes a little ocean, in her body. And not only this. Our blood and our sweating, they are both salty, almost exactly like the water from the sea is salty. We carry oceans inside of us, in our blood and our sweat. And we are crying the oceans, in our tears.” ― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

Oh, there was plenty of sweat (with a hundred degree plus heat wave we could have called it hotyoga), and an ocean of tears in the stories shared, in the hearts bared.
It was a birth. A death.
A rebirth.

An evolution of no longer holding oneself back, of manifesting that life which is yours for the taking should you choose to take the gift as it was given.
As your birthright.

When I stop and think about it for even a moment, I find my own eyes fill with tears remembering just how not alone I am. How connected it all really is. How the Divine fills all worlds.

And now that I’m home, with the ocean and those majestic mountains no longer in my field of view, with the magical energy of our collective dispersed, I find the fear that I couldn’t bring the magic home with me is unfounded.
It’s just as palpable here in my kitchen with a sink full of coffee cups and toast crumbs on the floor. Here where the birthday sign in the window is long overdue to be taken down.  Backlit with morning sun, still hanging there with my own majestic mountains behind it in a neon sunrise on a blanket of cool Silicon valley fog, beckoning me to take this day as my birthday- every day as a birth.

and remembering these words, I know that it is….

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

Coming Home
by Marika Rosenthal Delan

Leaving, not going

return

depart.

strange

familiar,

weightless heart

ripe figs

ruptured

born strangers
now kin

the words
none come

or gush

from unseen

once hushed

now free
places

remembered now
in
sacred spaces

kept kindled,
the spark,

now a torch,

burst into

full flame

“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend”― Aldous Huxley

“At the end of my life when I ask What have I done? one final time, I want to answer: I have done love.” -Jennifer Pastiloff

We have done love.

Thank you for showing us how it’s done.

 

In awe of you (and ourselves) and with deepest love,

the tribe

 

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My next retreat to Ojai is over New Years and is already selling out so please click here to deposit or email barbara at jenniferpastiloff dot com. I am also doing the Mother’s Day retreat there again. Click here.

Here is a memory album which my mother painstakingly made. Please check it out as it is lovely.

To follow Marika click here. I suggest you do. I am so happy she was the winner of the contest. She is indeed a beauty seeker!

Gratitude, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Manifestation Workshops

Why Every Mom Should Leave Home Sometimes – The Restorative Effect Of My First Yoga Retreat

February 26, 2013

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This blog post is taken from a great site called Do You Yoga. It is only an excerpt. To read the whole thing please click here or below. Nicole Markardt was at my Kripalu retreat. I will be back there again Feb 20-22, 2015!

By Nicole Markardt.

In many respects, I have travelled down the road of tradition in my life. I am a working mother that began creating my family at a fairly young age (by today’s standards). By age 31, I had two beautiful children and a wonderful husband.

While I feel incredibly blessed, the idea of going on a weekend retreat without my family seemed like an impossible feat. That was a far-off idea born in the land of the single woman.

Since discovering, and immersing myself in my Bikram yoga practice, I’ve uncovered a deep passion that resides in me to pursue this journey within. In the last year, I have managed to find the time in my schedule to consistently practice yoga. I began to read more about this ancient spiritual and physical discipline and soon began following other yogi’s that inspire me. I’d been following Jennifer Pastiloff on facebook for quite a while. After reading her amazing essays on manifestation, I was truly inspired.

I read about her -Manifestation Yoga retreat @Kripalu Center for Yoga and Wellness and was instantly intrigued. I discussed this idea with one of my dearest friends, whom I am also incredibly inspired by. Having been to Kripalu before, she was very enthusiastic. I knew that if she and I shared in this together it would surely be memorable. At first, I felt immense guilt. My inner dialogue was full of self-doubt, “can I really leave my children and go away for the weekend?” “Is that self indulgent?” “Am I a ‘bad mother’?”

After much contemplation and I went.

Read the rest here and make sure to leave Nicole a comment!

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Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

Manifestation Retreats, Travels

Manifest-Station Message of the Day.

July 18, 2012

Manifest-Station Message of the Day for 7/18/12

Happiness Tip #1:

To live your happiest life, you gotta have a sense of humor, especially when it comes to YOU.

My friend Karen Salmansohn made this amazing poster from one of my Italy retreat pictures. Karen and I will be hosting a retreat together in 2013!! Stay tuned for details!

 
Tweet me #laughingatmyself by clicking here 
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