How to Listen to Your Heart

We write to remember. Perhaps that’s why I never kept a journal, why I never wrote things down. I didn’t want to remember. It's why, as I sit down to write this book, which has been gnawing at every gnawable part of me, I am berating myself for not remembering the details. 

How could I not have kept journals? How will I remember what I need to say? I can’t even remember to meet someone for lunch.

This journey hasn’t always been pleasant, as most of us know when it comes to journeys. Sometimes long and arduous and filled with sketchy characters and other times free of turbulence and sprinkled with long wine-filled dinners and belly laughs. We also know this about journeys: some go as planned and some suck because your passport gets lost and you miss the train or the plane and your boyfriend dumps you before the trip even starts.

As I write my book, I think about what inspires me. What it really feels like to be inspired. The sensations in my body, the way my skin feels hot and my heart becomes a train in my chest. The way I sweat just on my upper lip and feel as if I drank two espressos.

I am inspired by the human spirit. By people who have overcome adversity of some sort. By the triumph of will. By grace and by possibility. By struggle. By art. By connection. By loss. By love. By touch. By sadness. By death. By laughter.

Perhaps we are all inspired by these things. Why when we see someone with no legs win a race or someone with a fatal disease face the day with an attitude we could only dream of possessing, it makes us want to jump up and down and reclaim our humanness. Yes, yes I am part of that race! I belong to humankind that produces stories such as these!

On some level, we all are up against something. Some people have a leg that has been amputated, some have a baby who is dying, some have a rare genetic syndrome or are partially deaf (like me.) Some just feel very lost in a sea of people who know what they want or pretend to know what they want. Some can’t make up their mind even when it comes to whether they want plain or pepperoni.

I recognize that quality, that Yes in a person when life should be screaming No. We want to be part of that Yes. We want to be reminded that the Yes is within us. 

I had no idea a few years ago that I would be where I am today. I had no idea that I wouldn’t be taking orders for eggs for the rest of my life. I am not sure what to call myself (yoga teacher, writer, healer, blogger?) and frankly, it doesn’t matter what I call myself.

I gave that notion up recently.

This constant naming of things. The calling of this or that and how much weight we give each particular name. The notion that it actually matters what we do for work, that it defines us in some way. The notion that who I was when I was a waitress is any different than who I am now. I had no idea back then when I was serving veggie burgers that a few years later I would be sharing my story with the world and traveling with it. That I would be helping young girls overcome eating disorders or connecting with other people who were hard of hearing.

I had no idea I would become a vehicle for hope.

We all have that potential within us. To be vehicles. What kind of vehicle do you want to be, is the question.

How many times do I take for granted the effect I am having in the world? How many times do you? How many times a day do I feel redundant or small?

It’s not always easy to acknowledge ourselves, that sometimes it feels like we are jumping out of a plane. Hell, it feels like we are being pushed out of the plane.

How often do you stop and say Holy Shit, my words are having an impact on someone? Who I am being in the world is directly affecting someone else’s life as well as my own?

Now, you may not curse as much as I do. I hope you don’t, because I am like a dirty sailor. But, curse words or not, get clear on the fact that who you are being today, right now, in this very moment is not irrelevant.

You never know who you are affecting.

You never know how you are affecting them.

So just know.

Just know it somewhere deep in the knowing part of you. Keep being exactly who you are and keep being better at it every day.

That’s all you can do.

Despite losing my father, my lifeline, at a very young age, despite battling depression and an eating disorder and hearing loss, I learned to hear my heart for the first time. I learned to listen to the calling that was my life. I learned to be better than I used to be.

I don’t claim to know a lot.

I know what happened to me and the choices I made which got me to where I am now. I know what hurt and what made me soar with delight.

I know now who I am and my only hope in telling my tale is that you too will begin to listen to your own heart. To the beating which is whispering Yes Yes Yes.


To learn more about yoga or relationships, check out our video courses The Complete Guide To Yoga With Tara Stiles and How To Have The Greatest Relationship Of Your Life.
About the Author

Jen Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane. She travels the world with her signature Manifestation Yoga: On Being Human workshop/retreat. Featured in New York Magazine, Oprah.com & Good Morning America and published on Salon, Jezebel, The Rumpus, xojane, among others. Next retreat with availability: Labor Day in Ojai, Calif. Attend a workshop in your city by visiting jenniferpastiloff.com. Upcoming: Seattle, Los Angeles & London & Dallas.

Visit Jen's blog The Manifest-Station. On Facebook, Twitter & Instagram both at @jenpastiloff .

She & author Emily Rapp's Vermont writing retreat Oct 2014.

Jen is The Inspiration & Wellness expert for the new magazine Reimagine. Next up is Seattle in May.

All workshops listed here. The Manifestation Yoga® Workshop is an experience about life: unpredictable, sometimes messy, beautiful, human. Jen is currently finishing her first book, a memoir.

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