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.

Sincerely,

Your Higher Self

 

Intention June 9, 2009

Intentions:

“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.

 

Living Dharma- Self Titled Blog April 13, 2009

Filed under: being present,Dharma,mindfulness,travel — Jenny @ 12:57 pm

I just finished reading the latest blog from the Yarn Harlot, entitled “Bridge.” In it, she describes her disdain for transitions. Specifically, she talks about traveling from one place to the next and the emotional and physical upheavals into which she is thrown. It struck me as interesting because late last year I wrote a blog with a similar emphasis on travel, except I took the opposite stance, describing what I loved about leaving places.

So as I was reading I started thinking about how much I enjoy the transition, the excitement of something different, the excitement of the upheaval, and furthermore, how I tend to struggle instead with readjusting once I have arrived and then maintaining a level of excitement once I am rooted.

For me, I feel as though the journey, the transition is the greatest part. There is something about having only exactly what I need, the bare minimum upon which I can survive, the supreme detachment to all of my stuff and then embarking on an adventure. It’s here that I can learn the most about myself because myself (or, you could say, my Self) is all I have. It feels like I’m living Truth. This, for me, is what life is about. The journey, the adventure, the learning, the revelation.

It is when I arrive that I am most thrown off guard. What do I do at the destination? Sometimes it feels as though I’ve forgotten why I initially intended to travel, having gleaned something I often feel is absolutely greater than I what I set out for in the first place. So I am there, and I have new information and new eyes. It would appear that I may never find myself lost while traveling, but may instead have no idea where I am when I arrive. Where do I set my things down? How do I interact with others? And generally, riding the Traveler’s High, I generally am thinking, When do we get to do it again?

So it’s safe to say I am not always most comfortable with the settling period. (Oh, by the way, if you haven’t caught on yet, I’m so very not talking simply about literal travel anymore…) Eventually, however, I do. And the next thing that comes is the attempts to stay excited about where I am. You could say I sometimes may confuse the word “stable” for “stagnant.” It happens in yoga (“When will my next ‘aha’ moment be?!”), it happens in my life (“This daily routine feels like I’m stuck in a hamster wheel!”).

As I’m writing and reading here, I am now able to see that the difference here is awareness and mindfulness of the present moment. In one situation- when I travel and experience detachment- I am fully alive. I am aware only of the present moment. In the other situation- when I am settled and becoming more attached to things or stuff or what have you- I am distracted and I lose this awareness.

Last night I had dinner with a friend and we had an extended conversation about balance and the middle path. As we talked about things happening in our lives, and the issues that were most important to us presently, we realized that at the core of every issue, we were trying to find the center between to poles. It seems that in this life we are always attempting to find balance. How can I be nice and not a pushover? Stern but not a bitch? How may I follow my heart and my own path without disregarding the feelings of others? How may I find myself both rooted and detached?

If I could find a way to see my life as the ceaseless journey it truly is, I could be fully aware and alive. There is no hamster wheel! Every moment is an ‘aha!’ moment!

Incidentally, I have just gone on the journey of this blog. I have traveled and explored. I have arrived at a destination, and I am lost. Now what? Now that I have gained some insight for myself, how do I apply it? How do I use it without overwhelming myself? At the end of yoga class we have 10 minutes lying in Savasana for deep relaxation, to let our practice sink in. Yet again, yoga gives us tools for real life applications of this new knowledge… My mind just did a really intense yoga practice and needs some Savasana.

I’m on to something here, I know it. It’s something I need to meditate on. It’s part of this transformation. I call my blog Living Dharma for a reason. I can find this middle path, or walk a lot closer to it on a more regular basis. I get closer every day and am grateful to think of myself as I was 2 years ago, 1 year ago, heck, 2 months ago and know that I get closer every day.