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

 

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 #3.2 June 3, 2009

May 31- Ashtanga with Gabriel

Another yoga session equates to 3 or more life lessons learned! This morning, Chris, Nate, Stacey and I were invited to experience Ashtanga with Gabriel. It was so good because last night Gabriel explained to us the principles of the practice in such a way that we came into the practice with the right frame of mind. Like Hot Yoga, it consists of series of postures. But because of Gabriel’s explanations last night, I understood that although it is repetitive in nature, one can never become bored or unchallenged when fully dedicated to the principles of Ashtanga.

1.) First lesson sinking in: my perception of Hot Yoga is now transforming. When I complain that it becomes boring or monotonous, perhaps it is because I am not dedicating myself to the principles of the practice. Perhaps I am not pushing my envelope. As I explore the realm of Hot Yoga going forward, it is necessary to be dedicated to the principles of Hot Yoga. Not the principles of Vinyasa, which I realize now is what I have been carrying with me to the hot room. I see now that the principles are, therefore dedication must be, different between the two.

2.) I said to Gabriel last night that I feel Evansville is so limited in what we can experience, and I find it unfortunate. In earlier conversation, he mentioned that there are limitations that I am putting on the students and the community that I needed to let go of. (He said many times over the weekend “Your body can do more than you think. You can handle more than you think. Push, go further.” I realized I was putting limitations on what I thought students were capable of…) This must change. I should let up the limitation and allow openness to foster and grow. Furthermore, we as teachers can bring new experiences here. We don’t need to be convinced that Evansville must always be three steps behind. Experience is always open to those who recognize and embrace it.

3.) The silent aspect of Ashtanga puts an emphasis on just being with the community and creating energy and beauty. Our studio certainly has created a spectacular community, and we should strive to always be harmonious in what we create together and remember that we are one. As one we should take our energy out to the world, our greater community, and give it the light it deserves.

Tomorrow: Final thoughts as the workshop comes to a close.

 

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.

 

Immersion and Transformation #2 June 1, 2009

May 30

After sleeping on it and having time to absorb Gabriel’s words more, I have some thoughts on my teaching practice, things to consider, etc.

1) Gabriel mentioned during a particularly long flowing series that the length of the flow was meant to keep us from practicing by memory when we went to flow on the opposite side. He also mentioned in conversation and emphasizing of staying out of the head during practice. So something I can incorporate then, would be less on the actual physical posture and more on keeping students from going into their heads. I should structure my flow in a way that guides them to awareness and focus.

2) Another thing that is apparent is his emphasis on community. His Thai Massage and Thai Yoga are prime examples. These are practices centered around our connection to one another. It reminds me of the importance of sangha again and touches me on more than just an asana level. How do I reach out to the community and to those I meet? How harmonious are my interactions with others? This is definitely a lesson to be taken off the mat!

3) I also feel called to live more yogic-ly, to top calling asana “yoga” as though that is the only part. I have a renewed energy to live as authentically a yogini as I can. I also think it is time I started studying the yoga sutras.

5/30 Post Backbend Class and Yin Class

During sun salutes, I dedicated myself to be active in every movement. I realize the importance of being fully active and present and involved in everything I do, from sun salutes to daily conversation.

It occurs to me that my 100% has changed. Much like the longer we hold a posture, the deeper we find we can go. What used to be my 100% is no longer my full effort. I am in a new place, I can go deeper (physically, mentally, spiritually). My 100% has deepened and it is my responsibility to move forward and meet it where it is, not matter where it moves, and to continue reaching to go further.

Tomorrow: May 31- pt 1