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Last month I experienced a particularly challenging yoga class. It was challenging because I am nearly deaf, and I simply could not hear a word of what the teacher was saying. Even with my hearing aids, I heard only “Charlie Brown’s teacher” talk. The instructor sounded as if she were underwater. In Hawaii.

I am a yoga teacher, so I probably took it harder than most would, and left feeling sorry for myself. In this state, I began to evaluate the meaning of life, and in that moment, words began to flow through me, and by the time I was finished, I realized that I was living the life I was describing.

This combination of part poem, part mission statement, part declaration to myself and the universe, came together in what I now realize is my manifesto.

This gave me profound happiness and a deeper understanding of myself, so I’m hoping it can do the same for you:

How to Make a Life

First: Take everything you’ve ever learned and everything
you’ve yet to discover and place it in a box labeled “Thank You.”

Second: Take a picture of your face and remember
that in ten years time you will be amazed at how gorgeous you were.
Be amazed now.

Third: Find someplace to live.
Make sure it has the ability to let light fall
across the room in such a way that every so often,
you’ll stop and mouth the words “Ah, sunlight.”
Don’t let the books get dusty.
Open them and reread your favorite sentences.

Fourth: Fall in love.
Touch. More than you think.
Have a child if you want one.
If you don’t—don’t.
Let your child out into the world,
discovering for themselves just how magical it is.
Or it isn’t.
It’s theirs to decide.

Fifth: Get a job.
Remember this job is not who you are.

Sixth: Do yoga.
Let your body discover what it’s like to move
without your brain holding its hand.
Tell your brain to take a hike.
Let your body believe fully in its own powers.
Let every person you’ve stored inside your muscles out
to breathe now and again.

Seventh: Do things that make you feel good.
Let your joy be contagious and spread through
your home, your job, your children.
Let it spread through the world like a virus,
so that when you forget it,
every so often, you’ll catch it from someone else.

The impetus that drove me to write this piece was sadness—and, yes, a bit of self-pity—yet from it, the manifesto of my identity was born.

Jennifer Pastiloff was recently featured on Good Morning America. She is a yoga teacher, writer, and advocate for children with special needs based in L.A. She is also the creator of Manifestation Yoga® and leads retreats and workshops all over the world. Jennifer is currently writing a book and has a popular daily blog called Manifestation Station. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.