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

 

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.

 

Grieving May 2, 2009

Filed under: being present,death,grieving,peace — Jenny @ 7:42 pm

This morning I woke up and couldn’t have found enough paper in the entire world onto which I could write all of the reasons I thought I was in a bad mood. Certainly it was partly because I haven’t eaten healthily enough of the past few days. “I’m sure I gained 10 pounds last night alone…” And surely it had something to do with the fact that I will be missing more yoga classes this week than I like to. How can I remain in a good mood if I don’t have my yoga? And don’t even get me started on the fact that there hasn’t been sun in a few days. I’m obviously deficient in vitamin D and clearly a lost cause. All of these things combined, how could I possible be light and cheery today?

I meditated. I begged for clarity, for a single ray of sunshine, for a way to be light. My meditation ended and I went on about my morning. I didn’t notice any changes immediately following, so I figured I was pretty much doomed. It was only 6:31 am and already my day was shot.

About an hour later, I got into my car and began driving to the yoga studio where I was to be teaching two classes today. Behind the wheel of my car, I started crying. Tears wouldn’t stop falling. I realized suddenly just why I felt like I was in a fog and I knew how to remove myself from it. I realized that my made-up list of Why I Should Be Pissy Today was just my ego’s way of protecting itself/myself from feeling pain. It was a diversion tactic, in other words. Interestingly, it was also the first time I ever truly saw how anorexia was a desperate egoic action– my ego saw something it didn’t like, ran in the other direction and frantically waved it’s arms, drawing my attention away from the reality of my life, away from truth, only later to get lazy long enough to see what was truly haunting me and realize how much it had gotten out of hand, having been ignored. But I digress some.

So there I was, driving and crying, and I realized that because I had asked (okay, seriously I begged) for clarity, I was finally receiving it. The fog was lifted and I was left with grief. Three days after learning the news, I had now begun grieving the loss of my cousin.

Instead of trying desperately not to feel pain, I let go and became present for my reality. I showed up for my grief. I sat with it; I allowed it to saturate me. I let it do what it needed to do. I let it work itself through me. My grief told me it couldn’t handle being ignored anymore. It needed to talk, to be heard, just for a short while. It asked that I put my shield down, open the curtains and cease to be ashamed of it. “Please,” grief implored, “I just need you to accept me.”

And so I cried the whole way to the studio. I cried because my cousin ever hurt. I cried because we are all hurting for him now. I cried because I want to be with my family as soon as possible and that’s not soon enough for my own preference. I cried because we are in the midst of a family tragedy. As I cried, the clouds of my mind parted ever so slightly, Release softly assuring me it was on the horizon.

Stacey was the only person to show up for the 8:30 class. She listened to me as I was finally acknowledging my grief and letting it be heard. She let me cry some more and then offered to sit and meditate together as opposed to doing a physical practice. So we sat, and I continued to give grief my attention, as long as it needed it.

Then, slowly, I began to feel warm. Eyes closed, I felt the sun shining on me from the inside out. The sunshine that can only come from my Source. I was transported to a grassy field. I got warmer still, sitting in this field. I could feel the Sun and a soft, warm breeze. I became aware of the grass and I felt my cousin Johnny with me. He was a blade of grass and he whispered to me that he’d never leave us. I was touched with such an overwhelming sense of peace. All I’d had to do was stop denying grief, to allow myself to be present for it, and eventually my grief would be transformed into peace.

I knew the next thing I needed to do was to write. So I wrote my Aunt Kathy, Johnny’s mother, a letter that I will give to her at the wake. The release kept coming with every stroke of my pen and when I finally finished and looked up for the first time, out of the studio windows, I saw that the clouds outside had parted ever so slightly and through them, the warm and generous sun was offering a few beautiful beams of light.

 

Campaign of Gratitude: Day 4 aka Gratitude Vomit November 27, 2008

Filed under: healthy spirit,home,kitten,life,om,peace,sangha,thanks,the Best,travel,yoga — Jenny @ 7:47 pm

Today, I’m thankful for… well… today.

I’m thankful for a really fantastic morning yoga class that I really feel brought me in to spiritual alignment with this Thanksgiving day. I’m thankful for the energy of love and compassion and gratitude that resides in my Sangha and thus, resides in me.

I’m thankful that my kitten has little ways of showing me she loves me and that she misses me when I’m not home.

I’m thankful for a my 30% employee discount at Starbucks. I’m VERY thankful for Starbucks Lemon Loaf. I’m EXTREMELY thankful for triple shot lattes.

I’m thankful I made it to St. Louis safely. I’m thankful gas is even cheaper here than in Evansville. (Although I’ll save my concerns about what deflation does for those of us paying back any sort of loan for a day that I’m not supposed to be giving thanks…) I’m thankful for getting to do 2 loads of FREE (to me) laundry.

I’m thankful for a kitchen full to the brim of delicious food today, when, for so many others in the world, today is just another day they are hungry. (Wow… all of a sudden I don’t feel right about my impending over indulgence…)

I’m thankful to have gotten to spend a portion of this day with my Sangha, for getting to next spend a portion of this day with my family and more still, for getting to spend a portion of this day with my best friend.

I’m thankful to have so very many things to be thankful for when the day is barely half over.

I’m not just living dharma today, I’m living luck.

 

Campaign of Gratitude: Day 1 November 24, 2008

This week I’m on a campaign of gratitude. It’s Thanksgiving week, and so I figure there’s no time like the present to do it. My goal is going to be to update at least 5 times this week and talk about something for which I am grateful. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Originally I started by making a list of what I wanted to talk about each day but a couple things happened that caused me to alter my subject for this first day. 1) I pulled out an old notebook this weekend to bring to yoga teacher training and, 2) a disturbing article I found online.

The notebook I happened to pull out was the one I used when I was in therapy with Jane my last semester at Murray. There were a couple journal entries in there. The most notable was the first entry, dated July 18th 2007. It was shocking reading the things I wrote:

“…How I feel is confused, chaotic, without control. I feel pressure from myself to get past this, pressure from others to do what they think is best and fear of letting everyone down.”

“I freak out when there are unknowns.”

“I’ve receded into a totally isolated place in my mind and I’ve kept myself from being really honest with even my closest friends and family.”

“Mood swings: I got the nickname of ‘Bipolar Jenny’ last year.”

“Now I am trying to face my demons and I intend to work past them. Now I feel vulnerable and chaotic all over again but the only way I know how to deal is unhealthy so I feel more out of control because I have no coping methods to turn to. I hate being vulnerable. I do not tolerate weakness on my part. I need to be a stonewall and a pillar of strength. I don’t want to be taken advantage of.”

I finished reading that first entry and it was weird how I could only remotely remember those feelings. It seemed to me I was reading about a third party. I was a little taken aback and simultaneously grieving for this girl. How could any single person have all of that going on in their head at one time? Such an unfair burden to carry. No one should live that way.

Then I moved to the next entry and was baffled once more.

July 19th 2007:

“You know, sometimes, I may freak out, but when the day is over there is one thing I know about myself and that is that I am strong and I will achieve the things I want. And I’m positive—I know I will get over this hurdle. Life can be a struggle but all it takes is knowing you can make it… with a little bit of work. And I am ready to work.”

Just one day later, there it was: hope and resolve. What a gift. How lucky am I that it was with me, literally, from the beginning. On July 18th I had hit the lowest point in my entire life to date. But on July 19th, I was already asserting my determination. I’m filled with so much pride for that girl. I’m actually at a loss for words. That girl was me. ME. I know when I wrote that second journal entry that I had no idea how impressive it was. I had no idea the implications. I wonder now if, as I was writing them then, I believed them. I mean, it’s clear I did on some level because I’m here now and I’m infinity times healthier and happier. One thing I know is that for as much as I yearned to recover, I certainly hadn’t really considered what life would be like once I had done so. I had no idea it could be so good and so free.

So this becomes the first subject of my gratitude this week. I know this seems like an egotistical way to start the week, but I maintain that until we find the light within, we cannot shine it out. But today, I am grateful for my strength, my resolve, my optimism. I had so much help along the way in my recovery but I also must recognize that without my own determination, I’d never be in the place where I am now. So I’m going to honor myself, give thanks to myself. I’ve done myself a huge deal of benefit in the past year and a half.

The other thing that brought this idea for day one’s gratitude is that I saw this article online: http://www.newsweek.com/id/170528.

It tears my heart out to think that anyone else is living the way that I do. It seems like it was one thing for me to have struggled but the idea of other people struggling is almost intolerable. No one should go through life that way. It’s just not fair. Something has to be done; these girls need to be reached out to. And I want to be one of those doing it. I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet and I don’t know what the community in Evansville is like, but I’ve got to do something. I have been given a great gift and it is only fitting that now, I should pass it on to someone who needs it, too.

 

saying my peace September 25, 2008

Filed under: peace,yoga — Jenny @ 3:05 am

Global mala weekend left me feeling like I’d been on spa holiday and it’s carried over through this whole week. I feel pretty serene and calm. Global mala invited me to work on building compassion, to send out positive energy into the world. Karma reminds us that the energy we put out into the world will return to us, whether it is positive or negative. On my mat last Saturday, I stopped doing sun salutations just to be doing 108 of them. Instead, I dedicated every movement I made to someone I love, to people I know, to people I don’t, to people who need peace all over the world. And this week, I am peaceful. I’m amazed that I was capable of creating this energy. It transforms me every day.

“I’m a human being. Not a human doing, not a human thinking. A human being.” Deepak Chopra