I have been thinner. I have been fatter. Many times. But, I was not satiated or happy any of those times. I did not have a sense of inner or outer peace. I did not feel beautiful or sexy or feminine. I felt as though I was walking around in an overdeveloped women’s body that was exuding masculinity. I was hard, rigid, tightly wound, stressed, and, bottom line, not happy. There was no joy, no satisfaction in attaining this shape. I could “do” all of the challenging asanas and I could run up and down trails without issue. I spent my precious life force energy obsessing about when and how I could get to the next workout – how much I could accomplish in a day – and how I could incorporate working out into everything I did. I did not stop moving. I carried weights around the house – struck a pose whenever I could – used my counter top in my kitchen as a barre – danced while cooking – walked while on the phone – and none of that included my “actual” workouts. I was burning calories left and right and eating well. I was thin, angular, muscular, and miserable. I had attained the outer form that I desired – at least I thought it was what I desired – yet, once there, I was left unsatisfied, strung out, burnt out, exhausted, and flat out suffering and tormented. I looked damn good but felt lousy.
I knew better though. After all of my years in recovery from a debilitating eating disorder, I knew that any extreme in either direction is a set up. A set up for failure in the continual search for happiness and acceptance. A set up for a set back in my progressive recovery. A set up for the potential to swing the other way. Over the years I have definitely hung onto this swinging pendulum and allowed it to take me up and down. I envision one of those massive pirate ships at amusement parks that nauseatingly swing from one side to the other with the crowd that is on the side that is heightened screaming wildly. There is a very brief pause in the middle before it swings to the outer side. That is such the analogy and visual of how I have lived most of my adult life. Those mid-cycle pauses have been only moments (days usually but the occasional week here and there) but they were all sweet, enlightening, settling — a much needed moment to breathe — a palpable time to regroup, reorient, and shift ever so slightly before the movement towards the other side begins. Of course, over the years the extreme conditions on both sides have lessened their grasp. It is as if my Higher Self could never let myself fall back into either rabbit hole.
Today I sit, on the cusp of my 42nd birthday, more balanced than ever – steeped in and devoted to my daily practices and the ever evolvement of myself as a beautiful, strong, courageous, open-hearted, and soft goddess; not trying to mold my inner or outer life into something it is not – into someone else’s reality. At peace most moments of most days with who I am in the world, how I look, and how I feel. I acknowledge with gratitude how my asana practice has morphed and matured as I have. No, I “cannot” currently do all of the crazy and wild arm balances that I used to be able to do, nor do I care to. As I continue to cultivate and authentically ground myself as a 40-something woman and mother, I find myself reaching towards the ground more. I move slowly in asana, holding poses deeply with a lot of breath and intention. I love a more yin style practice still doing some standing poses, but not harming my body and killing my spirit in the process. I crave meditation – nice, long, quiet sits in front of my sacred alter and I savor the opportunity to do a well-propped restorative practice. It is all medicine for me and continuously invites me into that sweet spot, that moment of pause on the pendulum, and the more devoted I am over the years the longer I remain in that landing; that deep belly breath, and the most potent connection possible to whom I truly am at my most beautiful essence. I have the choice with each of those moments, this I know and more and more I choose myself — I choose peace – I choose self-acceptance – and I choose to embrace life in all its glory and my magnificent womanly body in all its manifestations.