Day of Rest

Being a dis-ordered eater sucks. Sometimes I get so sick of it, so tired of trying to change that I sink into feeling I will never ever ever be rid of this way of being. And to be clear, it isn’t even about the restricting and binging, isn’t about food at all, but rather my struggle to process the intensity of my experience, to control what is impossible to contain, to soothe myself, comfort the feeling of overwhelm, numb the sadness, the suffering caused by both too much and not enough.

I was really feeling this yesterday morning. In a few weeks, Andrea Scher is going to take some pictures for me, of me, and I am starting to feel a whole lot of anxiety around that. I’m not happy with how I look right now, have no idea what I’m going to wear, keep calculating how much weight I could lose if I starved myself and did extra cardio for the next few weeks, “you are obese” ringing in my head even though I am the same size as the average American woman. It’s exhausting.

When I pulled a card from my tarot deck, like I’ve been doing every morning, I asked for help, for clarity and guidance, asked how I can shift this situation. I pulled the Mother of Swords, “Sharp Perceptions,” with the warning that there’s “a potential for her criticism to soar.” Very clearly the message was that I have the power to heal myself through awareness but that I have to be gentle, practice self-compassion, not slip into smashing myself to bits — again, it’s not really about healing my relationship with food but rather with myself.

motherofswordsAnd this healing isn’t about restriction or control or change at all, it’s about renunciation. By that I mean the Buddhist concept of renunciation, which is not just rejection of something but rather a way of saying “yes” to life, to feeling, to the present moment and whatever it might bring. In her book The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World, Pema Chödrön says,

Trungpa Rinpoche once said, “Renunciation is realizing that nostalgia for samsara is full of shit.” Renunciation is realizing that our nostalgia for wanting to stay in a protected, limited petty world is insane.

…that’s fundamentally renunciation: learning how to let go of holding on and holding back.

We don’t, out of fear of the unknown, have to put up these blocks, these dams, that basically say no to life and to feeling life.

The whole journey of renunciation, or starting to say yes to life, is first of all realizing that you’ve come up against your edge, that everything in you is saying no, and then at that point, softening. This is yet another opportunity to develop loving-kindness for yourself.

There is something in this concept of renunciation, this coming up against my edge, this shift from rejecting to letting the world touch me, allowing myself to be vulnerable, softening and opening, that makes me want to lean in.

compassionquoteSo there it is, the perfect example of how my sharp perceptions will facilitate healing. I got the card and in thinking about what it meant, I pretty immediately thought of renunciation, and knew the way Pema describes it would be the place to look, and it totally makes sense as the key and ties back to the card, how it says that there is the potential for criticism to soar and Pema says renunciation is about softening, being gentle. And as I was writing this in my journal, I notice the quote on the next page, “the body is your temple, keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in,” and it’s from B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar Yoga, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. I start yoga teacher training in a few months, which is another key part of my healing practice, because as Jen Lemen said recently, “a huge barrier to joy is the refusal to live in our actual bodies.” It’s like a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” from the Universe — you are on the right track, Sugar.

And finally, in case I didn’t get it yet, my meditation practice is a video Susan Piver made for the Open Heart Project, Working with Self-Judgement.

The Universe does conspire to help you, if you show up. A leaf dropped in your path, a card, a line of poetry, a video, a kind word, help when you hadn’t even asked, the memory of an idea that you look for finding it to be the exact wisdom you needed in this very moment — the clear message that I can figure this out, can trust myself, but also to take care, be gentle and kind. Today, I am resting in this.

7 thoughts on “Day of Rest

  1. lauriesuewagner

    Jilly – you say it so well here:

    “rather my struggle to process the intensity of my experience, to control what is impossible to contain, to soothe myself, comfort the feeling of overwhelm, numb the sadness, the suffering caused by both too much and not enough.”

    I really get it, and your whole journey of self awareness here is so beautiful and full of kindness. Without going into the gory details of my own story – so similar to yours – I just want to send love from one sister to another and say how much I appreciate your honesty and your desire to be kind to yourself. That is a teaching sweetie, and I’m listening. xxx

    Reply
    1. jillsalahub Post author

      I just got back from my favorite yoga class of the week, feeling relaxed and soft, to find the gift of your witness. You are simultaneously a soft place to land and just the boost I need to get up and keep going. xo

      Reply
  2. Di

    I pulled the Mother of Swords yesterday (before I read this blog post), and was struck by how much I identify with it. The part about criticism jumped out at me–I tend to be quite self-critical at times. For me it’s not so much about physical things (how I look, my weight) as it is about things like my parenting skills and how I perform at work. I’m glad that I’ve started down the path of being kinder to myself, but I had no idea just how hard it would be to tackle those well-worn thought patterns (“nothing I ever do is enough”) and try to change them into something more positive.

    Reply
    1. jillsalahub Post author

      I know what you mean about how hard it is to change something that’s so old and sticky, so automatic you can do it without having to think or notice. It’s like changing the course of a river that’s been flowing the same way for hundreds of years, it will take time.

      Reply

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