“Nagging guilt is like gray paint splashed over life’s sparkling moments”
Sally Shannon

Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense. It is also a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse. 

That’s how Wikipedia defines “Guilt.”

I arrived at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris from Pisa to discover that of the two bottles of wine I had (over)packed in my orange suitcase, the red one had cracked and broken in my (over)packed luggage. Mind you, I had missed the actual wine tasting in Tuscany at the actual winery with my actual yoga retreat attendees because I had been ill, so someone got them for me per my request because of my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), as my friend Sara Lieberman, author of The Handbags Tale, calls it.

I just had to have Italian wine! I couldn’t possibly leave Tuscany without Chianti, could I? 

I sat on the floor of the airport in my long white dress and new Italian boots as I opened the suitcase to check the damage. Immediately glass and red wine exploded everywhere. People stared. I didn’t care. Everything in the suitcase was drenched in red wine!

My new clothes.

My white clothes.

My silk.

My gifts. 

My white bras.

I was upset, naturally, but I actually sort of laughed. My number one rule in my yoga class is if you fall, you must laugh.

I tried to laugh, despite having no audible voice from being sick. At the point of the wine explosion, I had been sick for ten days and knew I was being tested in some way.

“Ok,” I thought, “it’s just stuff. Just stuff. Things and stuff. And broken glass. And red wine.”

I was frustrated because I hadn’t listened to my intuition which strongly whispered to me as I packed in Tuscany,“Jen, give those bottles of wine away as a gift. You do not have room. It’s dangerous putting wine in your suitcase. Plus, if one was to break, you know it will be the red one.”

I ignored my intuition, and it came back laughing at me. Wearing a burgundy and Chianti broken glass-colored shade, it snickered at me for being such a fool.

Arriving at Le Bristol, the fanciest hotel I have ever set foot in to date, I immediately asked the concierge in my I-sound-like-I-have-smoked-fourteen-packs-of-cigarettes voice if they could take the clothes to their in-house dry cleaner because a bottle of red wine cracked open inside my luggage. He assured me in a lovely French accent that red wine is very hard to remove, but they would do their best.

“Merci.” I wish I had the voice to say.

As a side note, I am traveling with my childhood babysitter with whom I was reunited after her only son, at nineteen years old, was killed in a drunk driving accident in Northern California last August. I invited her on my yoga retreat and then on to Paris in hopes of helping her heal in some small way or at least find something to make her smile once or twice.

This put my dilemma in a file called IRRELEVANT very quickly.

I let it go.

It’s just stuff. Stuff and things. 

The dry cleaners got almost all of the wine out for a small (big) fortune, and I was happy.

But non-attached.

I had made peace with the whole wine debacle.

The few stains that remain will remind me of my trip; this moment in the not-so-straight line of my life.

As I was looking for ways to get red wine out, I stumbled across Wine-Away. 

So I invented something called Guilt-Away.

Would you like a spritz? A bottle? Or a case?

As I led my twenty-five-person Italian yoga retreat, I got very ill. Sicker than I have been in years. So sick that I couldn’t speak. So sick that at one point I really thought I was dying. That kind of sick.

At first, the guilt I felt was insurmountable. How could I have brought all these people here and let them down? How could I let this happen? According to Wikipedia, I was bearing significant responsibility for this violation.

My brain goes to the path of guilt because it is the path of least resistance. Just like our bodies take the path of least resistance, so do our brains. I have spent many years of my life feeling guilty, which is a dirty, broken thing that presses into the corners of your soul like a sky in December descending for the day way too early.

The last words I spoke to my father before he died were “I hate you,” so naturally I have spent much of my life feeling as if I caused his death or, at the very least, should be punished.

So here I was in Italy with that same familiar pull of guilt. So heavy, it weighs down your boat and sinks it before you can even get out to sea and observe the horizon in the distance to allow you some clarity. Once you get to the bottom, it is too late; you have sunk and everything looks cloudy and muddy as water gets in your eyes and up your nose and you can’t breathe.

You get the picture.

As I sat on the cold airport floor in Paris, I realized that along with Wine-Away, I would like to always carry Guilt-Away so whether wine spills or Guilt starts to call me, I have my defense. I will spray it away like it never existed. Maybe there will be a slight remnant, but it will be so faint that it will just be a memory rather than a reality.

State the facts, speak the truth.

(Iyanla Vanzant taught me that. Memorize it.)

Fact: I got very very sick. Very very very sick.

Truth: My retreat had an amazing time, and Kylee Lehe (whom I have been mentoring) taught three beautiful classes and was given an opportunity to really rise to the occasion. I had been overworking and was run down.

Story: I should feel badly because I got sick and let everyone down. They had a miserable time because I couldn’t babysit them. I was boring. Things always go wrong. I got sick because I was being punished.

Guilt-Away: I take my bottle of Guilt-Away and rid myself of any of the story. The story is what keeps us stuck in the dry Desert of Guilt with no water or air.

I can breathe again now.

As I write this, I am sitting in my overpriced hotel room in Paris and using my Guilt-Away to clean up any remorse I have over not feeling 100% and not being able to go out and explore the city.

I use my Guilt-Away to get out any guilt stains I have over spending an absurd amount of money at a silent auction for Prader Willi Syndrome Research to stay at the overpriced hotel. I Guilt-Away any old tapes I have playing that suggest, “Who am I to spend so much money? I grew up without money so that means I will always be without so I better save in case. How could I spend so much when others don’t have anything?”

I feel better once I use my Guilt-Away. It defogs my mirror, lets my wine breathe, makes me lift my eyes off the sidewalk and look up at the clouds in the sky. It reminds me of whom I really am. That’s what Guilt-Away does.

I spray away any guilt I have about sitting here and staring out the expensive French windows. Any guilt I have about doing anything other than what I am doing at this very moment.

For what will you use your Guilt-Away? Share below anything you need Guilt-Away to remove or clean up. Guilt-Away: Keeping our sparkling moments just that.


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.

Jen will be leading a Manifestation Yoga®  weekend retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires, Massachusetts Feb 1-3, 2013.

*Photo by Arria Belli