By Jennifer Pastiloff
If you want to have something show up in your life you must first be able to imagine it. For a long time, this wasn’t an option for me. I simply could not un-see myself as: stuck, unworthy, lost, a non-working actress, “just” a waitress, a failure, among other non-fabulous things.
It’s like when you feel happy. It seems that you’ve always been happy and that you will always be happy. We also feel this way when we are sad, lonely, depressed, scared, heartbroken. I felt like I would always feel lonely, scared, depressed, lost and like a really bad waitress who spilled things on people. (How I lasted 13 years is truly beyond me.)
And then one day I didn’t feel that way anymore.
After 13 years of working in the same Los Angeles restaurant I decided to take a yoga teacher training with Annie Carpenter after coming to terms with the fact that yoga was keeping me from being hospitalized for depression daily. To make a long story short, I found my calling. I taught my first yoga class and can safely say, I knew I had a gift.
Was teaching yoga my gift? Not necessarily. It was what I always knew was my gift, even as a child: I could connect with people. I could provide a space for people to heal with my touch or my words or my humor or my music or my eyes. It didn’t matter to me, per se. What mattered is that I found something I wanted to do and I found an avenue to do it. After years of walking down the wrong street, I found a different avenue and I started to sprint.
Shortly after I taught my first class I was able to quit my waitressing job. I can only attribute my success to finally connecting to my purpose and finding what I was meant to be doing with my life. Finally allowing myself to imagine what was possible.
I started to believe in myself. I started to take risks. I smiled more. I got into a healthy relationship (now my husband), I healed from an eating disorder. I accepted my hearing loss. I admitted I actually had no desire to be an actress. Gasp! I changed my thoughts. I finally was able to say I love what I do and I do what I love.
I decided to call my company Manifestation Yoga after listening to my teacher Wayne Dyer talk about manifesting at length. After years of having negative tapes run the show in my brain, I made room for new thoughts. Those new thoughts allowed me to take action, where before I felt stuck and incapable of moving. I realized that I had manifested the life I always wanted but had never allowed myself to imagine before.
Manifesting is not about sitting in a corner and wishing for something and then having it appear like some kind of fairy tale. Although that would be nice. It is a lot of work indeed. But before the work, there must be the thought. There must be imagination.
Even Einstein says that imagination is more important than knowledge. I started to use my imagination. I changed what my old tape, or mantra, was, as I call it in my classes nowadays. It used to be: I am nothing. I changed it to: I am powerful. I am on purpose. I am a successful yoga teacher and writer. I am a healer. I am an inspirer ( I think I made that last word up.)
In my workshops I have people do an exercise called “ I am-ness.” (Pretty sure I made that word up, as well.) They get a partner and tell that person their own I am-ness. I ask them to finish the sentence I am ______. It cannot be I am hungry or I am broke or I am tired etc. (I knew from experience that these I Am’s didn’t get you very far.) I ask them: Who would you be if nobody told you who you were?
They then answer that powerful question and fill in the blank after I am, sharing it with their partner. This, of course, is according to their own imagination. After each has declared who they are, they stare into each other’s eyes for three solid minutes with no talking. They simply sit and witness the “I am” within themselves and in turn, in the other person. It takes not only imagination to declare the new “ I am” but a willingness. To sit and let someone look into your eyes for that long, especially after you have declared this I am, takes courage.
Some laugh and some cry and some squirm. Most have a profound revelation about what is possible when they decide to imagine who they are and declare it as their own truth. They then watch someone witness them in that very truth.
I will leave you with this: One of my dearest friends and students, Steve Bridges, died suddenly on Saturday in his sleep. He was with me in Mexico in February for my last and most profound retreat. After his death, the other retreat attendees started writing him posthumous letters. One said this:
You have profoundly affected my life. Especially when I stared into your eyes for three amazing minutes during yoga, and what I wrote down afterwards was: Steve= powerful, being, creator of love, confidence, kindness, strong. Power… I felt my power in his. The next day I said to you “ Steve, All I saw was power. It was amazing. I saw no fear.” And you looked at me with those brilliant blues and kindly said “Thank you”.
This is what manifesting is. Looking into someone’s eyes, especially your own, and declaring who you are. It is being with that truth. It is acting from that truth, and no matter what, and no matter who tells you different, absolutely living from that assumption of who you are.
I use Steve Bridges as an example, not to make you sad about his passing, but to see what he was able to accomplish. He not only conveyed that he was powerful and a creator of love, but he allowed someone else to be in their own power. That is what a manifester does. And notice what he said in response. He said Thank you.
Imagination, action and gratitude. That’s it.
So I ask you: What are you manifesting?
Photo credit: Robert Sturman