Reading & Returning with Jennifer Pastiloff
What are you reading this month? I’ve got a hot mug of tea and a cool paperback in my hands called On Being Human, by writer, yoga teacher, spiritual coach, and beauty hunter Jennifer Pastiloff.
What a great time of year to read this book. This is when I usually give myself grief about how much I ate or drank or spent over the holidays. I tend to set myself up with superhuman goals and all kinds of deprivation. Jen reminds me there are other ways to face the new year.
I chatted with her this week about returning and deserving—two things we might find ourselves reluctant to embrace.
We return to a new year or an old job. We return to the office with new behaviors. We all are trying, in some way or another, to return to society. Sometimes it’s awkward or stirs up weird feelings. How do we recalibrate and adjust our returns?
Who decides what we get or don’t get to have? What we deserve? Jen has some thoughts about this, and—spoiler warning—it has more to do with the voice you hear inside than anything else.
The Inner A-Word
In her book, Jen talks about the inner voice we hear—the one that isn’t always nice or true. She calls it your Inner _________(insert expletive here). Hint: it starts with “A” and rhymes with brass bowl or glass soul.
We tend to hear our negative voices because they are often the loudest in the room. The IA (or, as Jen renamed it for her kid-friendly backyard yoga class, the Inner Meanie) speaks in a voice we created long ago as a response to something negative we experienced or felt.
“Ultimately,” Jen says, “It’s a primitive instinct that was created to keep me safe once upon a time. But I don’t need that anymore.”
“This is the voice we’re trying to shut down, right?” I ask her.
“Yes,” she replies, “but during the pandemic, I grew to have compassion and gratitude for our IA.”
We can understand, she adds, that our IA guides us to the negative—that’s its job. It says: don’t do that, it’s not safe, stay away, don’t try. Instead of banishing it, we can listen to what it says and use that as a vehicle to get to the positive.
“The IA exists. So, instead of pretending it doesn’t, let’s acknowledge it. Let’s tell it, I see you, hear you, and don’t need you anymore. I can feel compassion for the IA. I can even thank the IA for telling me what I can’t have because by doing that, it helps me figure out what I want to do.”
What is Your This?
So, ask yourself: what do I get to have?
If you’re anything like Jen or me, you might freeze up, unable to think of anything.
Let’s reframe the question to get a little closer to the answer.
What does your IA say you don’t get to have? Peace of mind, a good night’s sleep, recognition, a piece of chocolate?
“This idea of deserving came to me during a time in the pandemic when everything was being taken away,” Jen recounts.
“I recently bought a house and found myself outside in my backyard hammock. I was so happy, and then I had this feeling of impending doom, and it was this very familiar feeling that the other shoe was going to drop. And then I had a terrible thought: I don’t get to be this happy. I have an old fear of not being able to sustain it. I lost my dad when I was eight, so the message I internalized is that things get taken away. But I have tools, and I used them. I stood up and wrote, I get to have this on a sticky note.”
But what, I wonder out loud with Jen, is this? How do we know what our this is?
Home is one of them for Jen.
“Yes, the structure, but also the feeling that I’m not living in a temporary space, living in the trap of one day it will get better.”
Jen cautions that if we buy real estate in the land of one day, we miss out on the land of better.
“You may have told yourself,” Jen says, ”that you never get to live in that place where things are better. But you do. You get to have this joy.”
On Being Human
“When I’m here,” says Jen, musing about Miraval’s motto of Life in Balance, “I look at what it means to be balanced. It’s this idea that we can keep things consistent. That we can experience something and integrate it.”
Yet sometimes we feel undeserving—like the thing we are reaching for is dessert, and we only deserve it at the end of a bowl full of kale. Jen will remind you that you deserve it in every moment.
“There is this idea that you go to Miraval, you have this experience, and then you compartmentalize it, or you have to pay the price when you come home,” Jen adds. “That you only get to have that feeling once a year.
It’s not true. Joy is not about privilege. It’s something we are born with, and we get to keep.”
Jen’s book is called On Being Human, and its pages let us be just that—a human, with all our faults and blunders. She often will tell you to “dork it out” in her Rockstar Yoga classes (where you can reconnect with your inner 12-year-old, crooning into a hairbrush-turned-microphone).
Her message is less about what you do—yoga, journaling, singing in the mirror—and more about how you integrate its teachings in consistent daily practice.
“Miraval Mode inspired me,” says Jen. “The cellphone sleeping bag was a tiny piece of this amazing place I took home with me. I get to have this bag, this new friend, that breathing technique. The experience—the feeling—is not being taken away; it’s just being given space to rest. Just like our phones. We can tuck them into their little sleeping bags. They will still be there when we return, but they no longer have to be the first and last thing we see each day. And the IA doesn’t have to be the first and last voice we hear.”
Let Yourself Off the Hook
It’s not about one visit to a resort or a single therapy session, says Jen. We can take those experiences with us and recreate them. Sometimes we fall short, and that is also part of being human.
Today you might have had a garbage day—maybe you had a bottle of wine and gossiped.
It’s ok, Jen tells us, you can start again tomorrow. You can let yourself off the hook for a day. She even has a journal for this hitting shelves soon called The Let Yourself Off the Hook Book.
- Take out a sticky note and write one thing you want to have: One thing you’d like to revisit. One thing you deserve.
- Write I GET TO HAVE THIS at the top of that sticky note and add your this to it.
- Share it on social media with the hashtag #igettohavethis #miravalmoments.
- Show off your sticky note with a photo and tag Miraval, tag Jen, tag someone deserving in your life.
- You can stick your note to the dashboard of your car, your bathroom mirror, or wherever you need the reminder. Look at it when you return to the classroom or boardroom.
We can return to our joyful backyard hammock moments. And when the time is right, we can return to Miraval, the movie theater, beach vacation, or just a nice dinner out with friends. We can hear the IA, tuck it into its own sleeping bag, and thank it for reminding us that we all get to have this.
On Being Human: A Weekend Like No Other
January 20 – 23, 2022 at Miraval Arizona
Plan your next wellness retreat around our first Author Weekend of 2022. Step into the new year with an immersive, inspirational weekend with Jennifer Pastiloff.