“How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved”– Sigmund Freud, quoted often by Jen Pastiloff
I was emboldened by love during my time in Ojai. The love came at me from so many directions, but the main source and catalyst was Jen Pastiloff. In Thursday morning’s blog, I wrote about the power of opening circle after I arrived Wednesday afternoon. That first day there was some vulnerability, statements of manifestation, fierce listening, beauty hunting and the faint beginnings of trust and connection for the group. It’s incredible how much has happened since then, I hope this blog can do justice to and honor what transpired for me. The truth is I’m bound to leave something out or just not have the words to properly describe some things, but here goes…
I learned the magic is real. Let me repeat this, THE MAGIC IS REAL. You guys need to understand, I’ve been wanting to attend a Jen Pastiloff workshop or retreat since I started following her on Facebook last April. Her posts, pictures, and videos about them made me want to a part of it, but most of her retreats were far away. I also believed a 1-day workshop would be my best bet for affordability as the cost of a 2-3 day retreat seemed out of my price range. So these past 2 days were a true gift in every sense of the word. And here’s the kicker, she thanked ME for accepting her scholarship when I went to hug and thank HER!!!
Thursday, New Years Eve, was such a full slate that started with manifestation yoga before breakfast. The yoga was a vinyasa flow I’d never done and it was quite strenuous. It certainly started the emotions and the sweat flowing as well. The music, oh the music magnified the emotion. The journaling and writing prompts pulled it all out of us. Being “in our bodies” and with that presence, what part of our body is speaking to us? What is it saying? What do we need to let go of to be what we are manifesting? Since we named what to let go of, now what? Naming what I am most afraid of. Declaring what intention I need to manifest in the New Year. Learning to be a “Human Thank You”. What am I saying yes to? She taught us to give ourselves a fucking medal! All of these writings were punctuated by more yoga, movement, and music. Jen shared her own personal experiences, strengths, and human frailties. Nothing she asked of us had not already been asked of herself. She was always right there with us. Guiding us, pushing us, uncovering those trying to hide, celebrating our experiences, strengths and frailties. The magic is real. The love, compassion, humor, grace and acceptance is authentic. She wasn’t just in the front of the yoga center she was everywhere that someone was sharing. Right in front of us, with us. Listening fiercely with laser-focused attention. How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved. Asking us to embrace one another with real hugs of love, gratitude, and support. Trust me, after sweating together physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually- we were there. The magic is real
There was free time after breakfast and after lunch. I signed up for a cooking class with Chef Caspar Poyck, who is also a trained digestive therapist. He was responsible for all of the meals at the retreat. The were vegetarian and quite tasty. He expanded my eating palate, my approach to food and how my emotional state can affect the way my body digests food. The class was part lecture and hands-on cooking class. We prepared Thursday’s evening meal. But before we ate dinner, Jen had another spiritual treat planned…
A sound bath by Fawntice Finesse, Sound Therapist. She played from metal bowls from the 17th and 18th centuries forged by monks in Tibet and the Himalayas, a gong and a flute. There are healing properties to sound baths and I can personally attest to just how wonderful the experience was. We laid on our backs with our heads facing her bowls and instruments with a cloth placed over our eyes and just let the tones of the bowls and rhythmic gong verberations wash over us. This is one of those times when words just aren’t adequate to describe the endlessly rising and falling tones from the bowls and reverb from the gong. She played for over 30 minutes I’m sure. When she finished with the bowls and gong, she picked up her flute to play the sweetest, lightest version of Auld Lang Syne I’d ever heard. The magic is real.
On Friday, the last day, we had a light breakfast and then closing circle from 9:30-12:15. And so there was more movement, thankfully a little less than the day before, or I was getting used to the vinyasa flow. Who knows? There was music, singing along at the top of our lungs, holding hands. More intense writing and sharing. The final writing exercise? Conjuring up what one or two-word phrase was holding us back. (my insecurity) The prompt was “And here’s what the fuck I’m gonna do about it… (yoga, surround myself with positive energy friends, write it out, pray/meditation regular, be a human thank you, be of service, do a mini inventory, ask “is this an old story”, get connected to nature regularly: hiking, read new genres, inspiring books, feel the insecurity and do it anyway). The final song was “The Rose” by Bette Midler. She made us lie down and sing along. I’ve always loved that song and it’s lyrics have always moved me. Singing it as a finale to this retreat? The magic is real.
I haven’t even touched on the connections I made at the retreat. The connections that have continued since then through our private Facebook group and some of the other souls who have already “friended” me on there. As I sit here writing this, I am a Human Thank You. I have arrived in this New Year with an Openness as yet unparalleled. I have a medal of valor from myself and a beautiful medal of compassion from another soul I connected with. A soul whose manifestations I’ve been entrusted with. Our magic is made manifest from love.