Rituals Make Us Human

At least once, I'd recently heard, everybody should travel solo. Hearing this statement several months after booking my trip to Jennifer Pastiloff's Manifesting in Tuscany retreat (yup, all the way to Italy), I wondered if I'd had such advice earlier, perhaps I wouldn't have waited so long to travel overseas! The timing was particularly favorable, however, as I'd been suffering a plague of self-doubt. Writing and creativity had come to a halt over the summer.

Which may beg the question, why go to a retreat? Well, a standard definition for a retreat is to withdraw, especially after a defeat.  We may go to a retreat for all sorts of personal reasons; reflection, rest, rejuvenation, connection, or combination of these. And if we're ready, what happens? Dread, fear, and doubt take a back seat. We're opened. We expand. 

I was alone but not lonely in the least.

Going to Europe, going alone, and balancing the fellowship of other manifesters with solo time was possibly the best gift I've ever given myself. I was alone but not lonely in the least. Relying on the kindness of other travelers and locals as well as my capabilities, I shed the self-doubt more easily than expected. And to think I had almost given it a key to the front door. 

Before leaving home, I wrestled with what I hoped to achieve in going so far. If I were to write a mission statement to represent such a commitment, it might have looked like this:

To have an experience so far removed from my daily life as to realize a shift in my psyche, to go ever deeper, to share yet also hold all that is dear to me. More simply put: To expand.

The stories we tell ourselves . . .

If there is anyone who creates a retreat setting safe for personal growth, it is Jennifer Pastiloff. We, manifesters, seekers, and strangers, lived in an 800-year-old farmhouse in the Tuscan hills, far from civilization, where the only sound during our silent mornings were the pigeons cooing in the rafters. At her manifesting workshops and retreats, Jennifer shows us how the stories we tell ourselves can and should be interrupted. One minute we're standing on the edge of fear, regret, shame, rage, and guilt; the next moment, when we decide to step away from the precipice, we are supported by gentle hands, inexhaustible om's, and glistening eyes which see through to our deepest souls.

We begin to understand how others often see us differently than we see ourselves. We are encouraged to revise our stories into a unique and more beautiful truth. It is hard work, retreating and practicing our humanness. The gelato, new friends, wine, and sight-seeing do provide respite from our intense practice, however!

Learning to say YES can make all the difference. More importantly, now I know what the best yesses are for me. Saying yes to giving myself time to reflect, in a very different environment than the four walls of my quiet condo, saying yes to spending savings on the very human urge to wander, saying yes to a big, scary and lengthy flight over the Atlantic Ocean, all had the desired effect. My fear shrunk to a size 0.

"It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

Jennifer is fond of quoting her mentor, Wayne Dyer, who shares something Mark Twain wisely said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Now that I'm home, I keep this in mind. Establishing daily rituals of morning meditation, prompted or free writing, sun salutations, a nutritious breakfast, and connecting with others, create a day that is much more likely to have the flow I crave, than had I started with email and social media. These rituals feel like a blessing, not a chore. 

Mission accomplished, Jennifer. Expansion happened. Doubts extinguished.

blog post; lifeisaprettyword.com


What is it like for you? Do you expand when you retreat? Are there rituals that make your day complete?



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Monica Sword

Monica Sword is an aspiring author and artist living a deeply heartfelt life. Following the early death of three family members, including her daughter, she struggled to balance home and work life. Once she discovered how to apply her conscientious and high-achieving personality to honor her passions, be mindful of her emotional reactions and focus on self-care, she developed a creative mindset that produces her most meaningful life work. On her website, lifeisaprettyword.com, Monica inspires and encourages others to honor their heart and soul in mindful ways.