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.

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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

 

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.

 

Immersion and Transformation #3.3 June 4, 2009

May 31- Yin/Yang Practice and the end of the workshop

The Yin/Yang practice was about the miraculous balance of strength and surrender, masculine and feminine, unchanging and changing. This is the dance of life, an intricate movement requiring intention, focus and compassion, centered on prana (breath).

We have pushed ourselves this weekend. We have pushed ourselves mentally and physically. I can no longer see the world through the eyes of weeks past, or through days past. I am in a new posture. During backbends, Gabriel challenged us, “Bend back and see more than you did before. More this time, more, more, more.” I see more, more, more now. I am transformed and continue to transform. My mind has opened to experiences it was previously closed off to. Maybe it is only a mere crack, but it is a new place to start. I can meet it there, work in it, investigate it, peek through the opening and see glimpses of the beauty beyond. The mere desire to experience it confirms to me that I will.

My ideas and understanding of community have deepened. I have a greater feeling of our connectedness, of the work we do together, of the power we harness. So much of my yoga has been inside work, to heal myself. I have made great strides, to the extent that I feel an ever-expanding sense of completeness in my being, and that I am now coming from a place where my practice can shine outward, into the community. My yoga has served the purpose of healing me, and now I must take what I’ve learned and share it. It was a gift given to me that I am not meant to keep for myself. It was a gift meant for all.

This weekend was a similar gift. One meant for us all in attendance to have for ourselves only at first, but now we must take it out to our broader communities. I am inspored to action now, to continue transforming and sharing, to expand all aspects of my practice, to live off my mat with the same intensity and devotion I have on it.

Gabriel has been a blessing to me. He inspires awe. He has opened a windo and I have felt the breeze. I see more and I trust, led by his example, that as I continue to bend, more, more, more will come. He shows me what I am capable of becoming through my practice. My divinity is stirred awake further. This is leading me down my path, and that guiding light, I now know, is coming from within. It shines brightly, as it has been polished by myself and those around me. With my own personal strength, and the strength of my community, this light will never go out… it can only reach out and touch the oneness that connects us all.

 

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.

 

the case for rain February 10, 2009

Filed under: being present,freedom,life,rain — Jenny @ 9:04 pm

“The gentle spring rain permeates the soil of my soul. A seed that has lain deeply in the earth for many years just smiles.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Have you ever thought about how frightened we seem to be of the rain? It rains and we blame it for our bad mood. We run for cover, seemingly convinced we might melt if a rain drop should touch us. We hide from it, stay in doors and even in bed, as though low clouds and water have turned us into bed-ridden wretches.

This morning, after yoga, I said to our instructor Stacey that it was a shame it was raining because I had wanted to go for a walk. Stacey replied, “Oh don’t let that stop you! It’s just a little rain.” I said, “You know, you’re right! We didn’t always have shelter from the rain, did we?” And I began wondering, why are we so scared of the rain? Of getting wet?

Last summer, when I was just beginning my yoga journey, I read a few of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books in succession. He often talked about the rain and the clouds when he talked about oneness. He drove home the point that we are the same as the rain. The rain falls from the sky, feeds the soil, brings us the food that we eat, the air that we breath. And when we die and return to the earth, our bodies break down and we become the soil and part of us is water that goes back up in the sky and eventually rains back down on the earth. Obviously he is more eloquent than I, but it was by way of this explanation that I was able to find a lot of peace in the world. I became less afraid of our conventional ideas of death and more certain that death is a notion and doesn’t really exist. We will never stop existing. We will never die. And how wonderful is that when our bodies are done here, we will return to the Earth and be a reason life continues?

For a while, whenever it rained was when I felt most full of life. A lot of times I would look at the rain and I would think of my ancestors, who are the rain, and I would smile at the rain and say hello to them again, or for the first time. It would be a peaceful and beautiful moment. I can even remember one day, filled with this knowledge and peace, I was reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and considering this cycle of life and I felt a raptuous joy that I have never before experienced in my life. I realized that “death” is beautiful. At that moment I actually thought I might look fondly upon the day that I returned to the Earth. I haven’t felt that since then and it’s an appreciation and feeling I hope to experience again some day.

I’ve digressed a little. So today I decided to go for a walk, rain or no rain. After all, I reminded myself, remember how much beauty I know is in the rain? When I began my walk it was drizzling very, very lightly. Then the rain stopped, but when I turned back onto the last street before mine, the rain started to come down harder and I slowed my pace. I’m sure people maybe thought I was crazy. I was in no hurry to get out of the weather, I was smiling and if it hadn’t been for all the cars and the lack of a sidewalk, I would’ve had my eyes closed too. It felt so good to have the rain coming down and feeling like I had melted into the earth. Feeling it drop on my face and my clothes, each pellet filling me back up with life. I came as close to that moment reading Walt Whitman as I have ever been.

The French have a phrase, “La Joie de Vivre.” It translates to “the joy of living” but it’s common knowledge in French class that the phrase encompasses so much more than the English translation allows. These moments I’ve been fortunate enough to experience… that is la joie de vivre. And they have all been inspired by the rain. That which we shy from so severely.

Let it rain. Run, dance, walk, sing, sit in the rain. Embrace, hug, smile at, appreciate the rain. The rain is in us, the rain is life. Let us love the rain. Let us love life.

 

One of the Ways Starbucks Saved Me January 10, 2009

Filed under: freedom,non attachment,Starbucks — Jenny @ 12:12 am

It’s no secret that the idea of time is only really as old as trains. We didn’t need any o’clock until then, at least. In the short period of time since trains were invented and now, haven’t we all become slaves to time?

One of the things that I think really brought me down when I worked at the bank was how much influence time had over me. I had to be at work at 7 am, I’d leave at 3:30, I was forced to sit at my desk until I was told I could go on a break. I did that 5 days in a row and then I got a weekend off. There’s a song that Holly and I used to hate in college by Phantom Planet called “Turn Smile Shift Repeat.” I can’t speak for her, but for me it was the monotony represented in this song that drove me crazy. When I worked at the bank, my life was this song.

When I started to work at Starbucks this changed. It was a bit of a difficult adjustment at first and I struggled to adapt to it. Everything, every day was different. Days that used to mean so much to me now meant nothing. Okay, not nothing in a negative way… but I guess I mean to say that suddenly there was no such thing as time to me. I realized recently that Starbucks allowed me to abandon the notion of time.

I recently realized (I’m ashamed to admit this is because of a commercial for IHOP that I even came to this realization) that time no longer exists for me and that it has afforded me a great deal of freedom. I don’t live my “week” waiting for the “weekend”. Nothing starts or stops. Everything just continues. I haven’t felt that “weekend” feeling in months and it’s spectacular. As lovely as the weekend-freedom felt, it always ended and that was depressing to me. Now I place no bit of time on a pedastal. Time just… well… isn’t. Weekends don’t exist, weekdays don’t exist. Time doesn’t pass because it’s not real.

The idea of releasing our attachments to notions has always been one that I thought was going to be slightly out of my reach. A lofty goal to keep and I certainly didn’t know how to do it. How do you let go of these notions that are so ingrained in your being? I think it was almost by force that Starbucks made me do it, because I don’t remember ever doing anything myself. Regardless of how it happened, it did happen and I feel one thing for certain: a little bit of freedom. Like I’m moving with the natural rhythm of life instead of a man-made idea of what life is like.

Like I’m literally going with the flow