Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

Renewal of Vows November 20, 2009

I was going to apologize for my inconsistent blogging but instead I decided to accept that I’ll probably never be a person who blogs on a regular basis (unless it’s regular that I’m inconsistent and in that case, I’ll proudly boast that I blog regularly). So even if I come here in spurts and even if I take a month or more off in between, I’ll feel uplifted that when I do make it back to my blog, I’m giving you a true part of me that is honest, open and heartfelt.

Here’s the truth. It’s not always the case, but a lot of times when I stop blogging it’s because I’m not riding the highs of life. Either I’m just coasting through or else I’m down in the dumps. The way that has always been my pattern is that when things get hard for me, when I struggle, I recoil. I go inward (in a bad way), refuse to ask for help, refuse to voice my hardships even when that is the time I most need to.

This was definitely the case in my last hiatus. As a matter of fact, I’ve told a few people now that this last low was actually the lowest I’ve felt since I was in therapy 2 years ago. It hurt me to say it at first. Just like before I entered therapy to get help with my ED, I was ashamed to say I was struggling or needed help. I think in this case it was hard because I’d been doing so well and it undercut my pride so greatly to say that after 1 year of doing so well, that I had “fallen prey” to ED again. I was supposed to be “recovered.” I mean, c’mon. It’s me we’re talking about. I was supposed to do recovery better than anyone ever has, right? Who me? No I’ll just need this one experience and then I’ll be a “pro” at recovery.

So I didn’t do recovery “perfectly.” So life happened and it happened fast. So I got caught off guard. So I stumbled. But did I fail? Am I failing because I still don’t feel quite back to where I was? For a little bit I thought I had. I couldn’t believe I had gone back to that place. The desire to restrict was so strong. It was so clear to me that I’d become checked out. I couldn’t concentrate on conversations with people. I was becoming abnormally forgetful again. I was crying a lot. And those desolate thoughts of “I can’t live my life like this.” “Why me? Why again? ” “Will this ever end?” came right back to me. The mental and physical fatigue that comes with it. I questioned my strength and my ability to remain a warrior in the fight against ED. I doubted my ability to win another battle.

This went on for a few weeks. And then, one day, I said it out loud. “I’m struggling with Ed right now.” One of the most powerful things I’ve done for myself in my recovery is simply to be open about it. I figure, the more people I tell, the more accountable I’ll be held to my own health and recovery. So at the risk of overshare, I just started telling people close to me that I was struggling. And I realized I hadn’t failed. Not even close. For starters, I’m immensely proud to say that during this period, I NEVER restricted. Not once. I wanted to. I wanted to really really badly. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I’m grateful for the strength that I did have from my previous bout with ED, the strength and awareness that I had gained that kept me from depriving myself of nutrition.

Like I said, things aren’t quite back to where they were before, but I’m working on it. I’m trying. I’m not giving up. I’m taking some new lessons from this. For starters, and the whole point of blogging today, I am RECOMMITTING myself to a CONTINUAL effort to be healthy and proactive in maintaining my recovery. One of the downfalls to thinking that you’ve “perfected” recovery is that if (and/or when) relapse happens, you’re caught blindsided. The mistake I made was thinking I’d be immune to any kind of relapse.

Another mistake was that I was defining relapse too extremely. To me, relapse was going back to my old patterns and not knowing what I was doing and/or not wanting to go back to healthy eating. This of course is wrong. Now that I am body aware again after struggling with ED, I don’t think it will ever be possible for me to not know again when I am becoming detached from my body and leaning towards disordered eating.

So here are a few of the lessons I’m taking away from this latest battle:

For starters, once again I have discovered the importance of being vocal and open equally during the highs and the lows. I will no longer be ashamed when things feel as though they’re going downhill. Instead, I’ll be honest about it. I have an amazing support system ranging from my amazing family and friends to my cybershala on Twitter. I’m loved by these people and I know they want me to be happy and healthy, so why not let them be there for me?

I also think it’s time I became a little more of an activist in the recovery world. I think it will be good for me, it will keep me motivated. But also, how wonderful to be able to help others like me? When I was in therapy and I started to become happier, I was finally able to see just how deeply in the dumps I’d been for the entirety of my untreated ED. I have always meant it when I’ve said since then that I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy (if I had one) or the most heinous person on the earth. What an awful, awful way to have to live our lives. It’s unfair. No one should live like that. So I want to be more active, in anyway I can. I have a lot of love and compassion to share and I think there has never been a better time for me to share it with the ED community.

Finally, I am going to have start by showing myself a little compassion. For Namaste Book Club right now, we’re reading a wonderful book by Pema Chodron and I’m learning a lot about befriending myself and everything about me. My favorite line from the book so far is when Pema writes, “The desire to change is a form of aggression toward ourselves.” So often I think I’m working to rid myself of my ED. I think, “If I can just do x,y and z, I’ll be free of these thoughts.” Or ,”I’d be so much happier if I didn’t have to deal with ED.” Well sure. Of course I would. But the truth of the matter is… I have Ed’s voice with me. So this isn’t changing. Now my work (and believe me when I say it’s work) is to learn to live along side of that voice. To be aware of what ED sounds like vs what Jenny sounds like. To allow mindfulness to help me when I want to react to Ed. Recovery isn’t black and white. I don’t have to feel like a swinging pendulum. I can listen for and be soft with Ed when he pipes up. I can kill him with kindness, even.

The key here, the most important thing, is that I acknowledge my ED. No more hiding it. No need to go back and forth. No need to be anything other than what I am. And what I am is a young woman who lived with anorexia and who works to strengthen herself everyday from it. I won’t let my past or current battles define me. I refuse to be “Jenny, who had an eating disorder.” But I will work with what I’ve been given. Not defining myself by my ED struggles does not mean that I also ignore them all together. My ED and recovery are not things to hide any longer. I am honest (and even outspoken) about every other aspect of my life. This will be no exception.

It occurs to me that I’ve written blogs very similar to this in the past but here it is again. No matter how many times I reiterate and reshape this same idea, I’ll rewrite this¬† blog every day til I die and mean it. No matter how many times I have to do it, I will always and forever commit myself to health and happiness, to truth and to freedom.


Note to Self September 2, 2009

Dear self-

If you’re looking for something external to change what’s going on in your head and/or life, I’d kindly like to suggest that you let go of that tactic. I’m pretty sure you know better than that.

Go inside, please.


Your Higher Self


New Eyes July 17, 2009

I can’t remember when I decided to go vegetarian. How long has it been now? I think I gave meat up back in March. It’s hard to say because it was all such a natural progression and there has been no struggle that I really can’t remember when I made the switch. Hmmm…

Well anyway. The next phase of my journey is here and now. From the beginning, I had wanted to go vegan, but I recognized however many months ago that doing so would mean taking a leap so big, one which I would not successfully be able to jump. So I settled with vegetarianism, despite the fact that there was a nagging in the back of my mind saying, “This isn’t enough.” I couldn’t truly justify giving up only the flesh of an animal, yet still consume milk and eggs and other by-products that I knew full well weren’t procured in a humane fashion.

But again, I knew I couldn’t sustain a vegan diet immediately. So I let it stay in the back of my mind and continued to occasionally consume eggs, cheese, yogurt and even some seafood. Until I came across this link. After clicking around and watching their slide shows here, I knew it was time. I had a strong hold on my vegetarianism. I had a strong reason for doing what I was doing. And now, it was staring me in the face. The time to go vegan was upon me. I was so disturbed. I couldn’t watch those clips, read that information, and go back to doing what I was doing. There were no more excuses.

Now comes a time of transition for me. A time for new awareness. The biggest thing I realize is that becoming vegan is not only going to change my habits, but change my life. This is a commitment, this is now a defining part of who I am, because it affects so many areas in my life. What I eat, what I wear… I even find myself conflicted at work now as I go through gallon upon gallon of milk to serve in peoples’ lattes day in and day out. I love my job and I am nowhere near even considering quitting, partly because I can’t do without the checks. But how long before it becomes too much to support?

The fact is, I have to look at life through new eyes now. Animal by-products are all over the place, in more than just our food. I have to see everything for what it truly is. I have to stay informed. I have to do my research. I have to be able to back myself up, because already, I have taken some slack for making the switch. There’s only one thing I’d like to say about this, and then I intend never to address it again unless pushed to do so.

Going vegan is MY decision for MYSELF. While it is now something that I will reflect upon often, think about even more and incorporate into the core of my being, I have no intentions of trying to persuade anyone else to do the same. Similarly, I am not out to act pretentious or holier-than-thou by talking about this as much as I probably will be doing. This is a journey of the self. I will judge no one who does not subscribe to the same philosophy as me. I know what does not sit well with MYSELF. So I can only hope that as I respect the decisions of others, so may my decisions be respected, too. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Now, on the issue of health. This is not research left undone either. I do recognize that I will have to be very careful on this journey, to make sure that I stay healthy and receive all the best nutrition I can give myself. Fortunately, after going vegetarian I started a regular vitamin routine, and there are only 2 other vitamins recommended for vegans that I will need to add into my system. In my commitment to ahimisa (non-harming), I am including myself. I will not undertake this new lifestyle at the sake of my well-being.

Having made this decision truly puts my soul into a new place of ease. This is the right choice for me. I feel as though I am connecting to my authentic self. This is the true journey I am on, the journey of living authentically.

As I go through my days, my studies, my inquiries, I continue to discover my dharma. To connect with this, to travel this path unwavering, this is to know liberation within myself.


Intention June 9, 2009


“I was going to copy my blog from today about setting intentions, but I decided that I wouldn’t. Most of you know about setting intentions and you probably live by them, or at least use them frequently.

I find that setting intentions often is the best way for me to get anything accomplished. Some may argue that intentions and goals are the same thing, but not for me. Goals are hard to tie down, intentions are things that I work on.

What sorts of intentions do you use or live by? What intentions bring your spirit into a better place?”

Yogirev (from Yoga Journal Community)

I, in turn, went to respond to Yogirev’s blog but my comment turned into a blog of it’s own and because of that, I am posting it here as well! Enjoy!:

I agree with your differentiation of “intention” and “goal” completely. Goals to me are more black and white (“I want to do x by this time next year”), and are backed with ambition, while intentions are more encompassing (“My intention is to live with compassion”) and are backed by subtle energies.

I have two intentions that I gravitate towards, and I often end up using them as mantras. Much in the way we often recall intentions during yoga class to keep ourselves in the present moment, I will often repeat my intention to myself several times during the day.

The first one is from the poem by Rumi in which he says, “Let the beauty that we love be what we do.” I first began using this one on the mat, to encourage myself to stay dedicated to making my practice an artistic expression of divinity, and then I realized that it was equally, if not more important to do this off the mat as well. At the end of the day, the intention is to practice authenticity no matter the circumstances. It reminds me to stay true to myself in all situations and to act with strength, flexibility, grace, compassion. It amazes me that it can be such a subtle shift in my energy but it completely changes interactions with people around me. I work at a very, very busy Starbucks and sometimes when things are absolutely crazy, I can lose myself to frustration and forget that at the end of the day, my job is simply to make the cup of coffee that makes someone else’s day. When I remember this quote during these times, I can come back quickly from that edge of frustration and appreciate that it might just be a cup of coffee someone wants, but it is also that “coffee shop” interaction they are looking for. And I will quickly see that the beauty I love is that interaction, so I can let that be what sustains me. The moment I authentically connect with another person, my spirit feels completely realigned.

The second intention I set is also one that began and the mat and turns into a mantra through out my day, as well. That is, “Meet life where it is.” On the mat, it started off as, “Meet yourself where you are.” Obviously, it was a reminder that I change from day to day and that I have to use the present moment,¬† always, as the starting point. It doesn’t matter if yesterday my hips were more open than they are today. Today this is where I am and this is my starting point. I’m one of those yoga students who always choses the challenging variations and who is never one to back off, so this became very important for me to use on the mat so as to avoid injuring myself and so that I will not have to give up my practice to nurse any injuries. Again, this mantra is incredibly important off the mat, too. How many times in our lives do we get upset because of the way things are and because we can not change it? This intention has done wonders, for me at least, to remind me that it is not life I should wish to change, but instead I should change my reaction to life. Thich Nhat Hanh often says in his books that we have no reason to ever be upset with our circumstances, because 1) maybe we can change the circumstances and if so, we should do it and then we will not be unhappy and 2) maybe we can not change the circumstances and if this is the case, why waste time dwelling on that which can not be changed? We have to meet life where it is. Use the present moment as the starting point and work with what we are given. For me, this mantra/intention is a call to action. It’s saying, “Don’t sit there and dwell on the situation, stand up and deal with the situation.” For me, if I give myself the chance to slip into frustration, it is nearly impossible to come back from it. I use this mantra to catch myself from falling into my ego’s trap.

The power of intention is amazing. It boggles my mind sometimes how miraculously these two intentions work for me. They keep me from the depths of frustration, keep me in the present moment and keep me moving forward with grace.


Immersion and Transformation #3.1 June 2, 2009

After the sessions on Saturday, the floodgates were opened for me and I was constantly writing in my journal. I made three long entries on May 31 so I am splitting them up over 3 days.

May 31- A.M.

Yesterday Gabriel said two things that have struck chords with me.

1.) As Yogis, we are artists using our bodies as artistic expressions to recreate divinity and our inner light. He demonstrated sun salutes with that expression as intention and then sun salutes practiced as simply movements and postures. The difference, as we all know, is astounding. The lack of beauty when artistic intention, full commitment to the posture, is dropped is unbelievable. But watching Gabriel practice and shine his expression outward was enough to bring tears to my eyes. It was like watching a divine dance, so beautiful and graceful.

2.) The other thing he said, which goes right along with this, occurred at dinner. He said, “Yes, you’re practicing yoga, but are you realizing it?” Meaning, are you just making thos physical movements are is your practice a living thing? Is it driven by divinity? Supported by intention?

During class that afternoon I used as my intention that artistic expression, full commitment to every posture, and shining my divinity outward. I don’t know what it looked like to an outsider watching, but I know how if felt. It felt beautiful, graceful, strong. I felt so completely satisfied at the end, like I had stirred my inner divinity awake. Let this always be my intention. Let me never forget that one reason I return to my mat is to touch divinity, to be the light and shine it onward, to share it with the world. It is as simple as keeping my focus on the present moment, surrendering my mind and committing my every bone, ligament, muscle to the posture and the expression, connecting with my breath and filling with light.

It’s like walking on the beach with God, hand-in-hand at sunrise. It’s love like you’ve never experienced. It’s compassion all-encompassing. It’s knowing that within us all resides the strength to reach out to others, to embrace them, to welcome the universe into our hearts. It’s knowing that it’s all already there. It’s inhaling and feeling the vastness of your own heart space. It’s exhaling and letting the cycle begin again.

Inspire. Expire. Start anew.


On a separate note, the realization has not escaped me this weekend that I used to see that I had much to learn and would be filled with resentment for all I did not know. Yet now I see how much I do not know and revel in the possibilities before me. With so much to learn and discover, there can only be adventure, transformation, awe and beauty before me.

Tomorrow: 5/31 continued: Post-Ashtanga practice realizations.


stretch and strengthen February 17, 2009

Filed under: compassion,healthy spirit,self-discovery,yoga — Jenny @ 5:16 pm

A lot of things about me have changed since I began doing yoga at EYC about 6 months ago. Physically and mentally, I am a stronger person than I have ever been. I am more forgiving to myself, am quicker to recognize hurtful thought patterns and have a progressively easier time reminding myself about that which is my Truth.

I have stretched and strengthened more than muscles, but also my mind. I am more open to new ideas than I have ever been. It’s been years since I said with any morsel of true faith that I believe in a higher power and now I say it proudly and, what’s more, I feel it with all of my being. I have developed more than just physical flexibility. Now I find it easier to adapt to changing situations, to get in where I fit in, to deal with situations as they occur rather than ignoring them and fighting with the emotions they bring up.

But perhaps one of the most remarkable changes in myself that I noticed was the stretching and strengthening of my compassion towards others. I was known in the past as a very sarcastic person. I’ve got it in me to be condescending and stuck up. I spent a lot of time with a “holier-than-thou” mentality. But two things happened to begin changing this in me. (It’s still in the process too– don’t be mistaken and think that I’m saying I’m Mother Theresa over here. In fact, the reason I’m writing about this now is because of recent struggles with compassion.) The first was my yoga practice. The second is thanks to the novels by the YA author and beloved Nerdfighter, John Green, who themes his works around the idea of imagining other people as complex beings and not just props and scenery outside of ourselves. As I got deeper into it and began to understand more about the energies flowing throughout the earth and the power of love and gratitude and kindness, I softened. During our asana practice, it’s important to be soft in all of our poses. Even if it’s a powerful pose and takes concentration and strength and we feel ourselves tighten on that edge, we must find the softness. And so did my heart find that softness. I found myself considering the feelings of others more. I became more aware of how what I said or did may have the power to either help or harm someone and I gradually, and unconsciously, began straying from the behaviors that may hurt others.

For instance, without meaning to, I began cursing less. Me. Who loved to throw out the F-bombs and other powerful, almost pornographic words with astonishing frequency. Also without knowingly doing so, I gradually left my sarcastic nature behind me. It didn’t give me anything to feel good about to be insulting or belittling to others. Then I started noticing a pang of guilt when I said something judgemental about someone. This has become something that I am making a conscious effort to control. (Also, let me say that it’s not that I’ve become uptight. There’s good-natured ribbing and joking with friends and then there’s the behaviors that I was engaging in. They’re totally different and it’s the latter that I am trying to more fully release.)

The more I’ve come to understand ideas of interconnectedness and unity of life, I’ve realized that these negative behaviors hurt me too. When we consider that we are one, everything is part of the same whole, and I am hurtful to another, then I am hurtful to myself. I am more fulfilled when I honor others and respect them.

Lately I have felt that I haven’t been so true to these ideals as I should like to be. I’ve consciously engaged in negative behaviors and sent forth negative thoughts to others simply because that is what the company by which I was surrounded was doing. I took their cue. My mind and my mouth were saying two different things. My mouth uttered negativities and my mind watched in silent disgust. And I felt badly because I knew that the things I said were not me. I am not that person any longer.

Thus, I’ve got a new yoga practice to work on right now. I am going to continue to stretch and strengthen my compassion towards others and remain true to myself, for mine is a quest for truth, peace and honor.