Whilst writing in my journal last night, I had the self-realization that 2013 is to be a year of letting go.
It’s not that I have anything outstanding to let go of, really. It’s more a sensation. An all-emcompassing sensation. The little dent I’ve made in the Yoga Sutras has enlightened me that the real practice of yoga is not the physical asana, but attaining freedom for one’s mind. In the same vein, one is urged to let go of attachment.
Upon further investigation of my own life, my own Self, I’ve realized that I’m a hopelessly attached person. I’m a moon sign, Cancer, a water sign, I’m desperately sentimental and nostalgic: attachment. I have long hair I’ve taken years to grow and which represents a great deal to me: attachment. I find a healthy, harmonious physical representation of myself to be satisfying: attachment. I have trouble letting completely go of a past love for fear that in my doing so, I will be forgotten: attachment. I have belongings that I hoard, overvalue and to which I award great meaning: attachment. I have a driving desire to acquire the guidance and advice of my mom before making big decisions: attachment.
The above is a fancy way to say I love my “things;” that I’m ashamedly satisfied by having long hair and a slim physique (knowing full well that these are temporary, dangerously tangible traits to which to become attached); that I’m scared my ex will forget how beautiful our time was together or find another love (and would the latter really be so bad? Don’t I wish upon him happiness and freedom? Why does the thought make my face crumple and my green eyes grow so wet with tears that I must pause my writing? ATTACHMENT…); that my “only child syndrome” manifests in my inability to share expensive kitchen appliances with my four roommates (I’m hoping this is less attachment and more an act of preservation, ha) and my hoarding of favorite bowls and personal mugs in my own cabinet; and lastly, my disbelief that I can make a decision worth believing in, without receiving help (even though my mom is the moon to my sky and without her many great decisions would not have been made, she is always urging me to decide for myself), and that if it’s not agreed with I may stand up for it as an adult with enough shreds of wisdom to decide what’s right for myself.
Now, I am not trying to be hard on myself, I’m simply acknowledging the many modes of attachment in my life.
Most icky is the physical attachment. I’m a 24 year old girl. I suffered an eating disorder as a teenager. What ensued were years of tumultuous disordered eating, on both sides of the pendulum. Undereating, overeating, binging and purging, obsessing over every bite, inhaling anything not nailed down with the promise of a diet “tomorrow,” eating nothing but baby carrots for most of January 2007, counting every calorie…several years, save for short reprieves of normalcy here and there, I was on a roller coaster of disordered eating. Attached desperately to both food and the appearance of my body. My poor, tortured body.
I have now found my way, and know this “way” is shared by millions. I’ve discovered a health and wellness community that’s welcomed me with open arms. Millions of people starting their mornings with warm lemon water, sharing wholesome recipes, eating plant-based diets, sharing a passion for nutrition, living close to nature. It makes my heart sing, to make healthy recipes that taste delicious, to share preventative tactics with friends like my raw honey with cinnamon to prevent illness and allergies. Yet I am limited in my tastes now, which is reminiscent of a darker time when I suffered from disordered eating. Much of what I grew up eating is no longer palatable for me, as a vegetarian with dairy aversion. That makes me sad, it makes me feel guilty when my mom makes it and I say no thanks. We cook and share so much together, but it still tugs at my heartstrings when she says, “You loved this as a kid.” Perhaps I will discover a balanced approach to blending these two worlds in time. Perhaps not. I have grown up and developed passions and tastes for different foods, and it doesn’t belittle the love I have for my childhood favorites, I simply hunger for a different palate as an adult. One thing that I’ve learned for certain in the past year (heck, the past 6 months!) is something I’ve written on here a lot about: extremism. I’m exceedingly averse to extremism; the potent need for everything to be organic, purified, raw, etc. That was very intriguing to me for a bit, and I dipped my toes in the pool of wonder, but came out feeling a bit burned and confused.
See, I personally seek balance. Balance in all things, in all arenas. I have been known to fall victim to a pattern my mom calls “black and white thinking.” The type of thinking that is “all or nothing.” Either I eat entirely organic or it’s all for naught. Either I take medicine or I take none at all. This type of thinking is detrimental to the body, to the mind, holistically detrimental to one’s wellness. As my fellow health and wellness advocate Jessica Sepel recently said, “Anything to the extreme is unhealthy.” I wholeheartedly agree with her. I go out of my way, as does she, to live, eat, travel, and breathe clean, nutritious, wholesome living. It’s a lifestyle, truly. But compromise is unavoidable, and should not be feared (which is what I find extremists tend to exude, a deep sense of fear). Obsessing over control inevitably renders a person powerless (whether it be over the quality of one’s water or the toxicity of pesticides contaminating conventional food). Flexibility is a must.
In our modern society we certainly face a lot more toxins and chemicals than our grandparents did in their day, but we also have made glorious leaps in the health and wellness industry. We know how to treat, cure and care for so many ailments and have the contemporary education on what to avoid like the plague (cigarettes, soda, fast food) and what to welcome with open arms (leafy greens, ample sleep, good ‘ol H2O). With balance comes peace of mind, with peace of mind comes the ultimate achievement of wellness.
So, here I am all these years later, writing about the theme of “letting go.” My once tortured body is now healthy, happy, joyous. I’m leaner than ever, with a higher metabolism than ever, and I treat my body like a temple. I may not be relaxed and laid back (I’m ever the slightly obsessive, pack healthy snacks everywhere I go, “type A”), but I trust that in time I’ll sink into the warm waters of “my way” and stand on solid ground. I’ve spent the past year doing a lot of investigating, a lot of brainstorming how I want “my way” to look, and now it’s time to put down the pencil and start writing in pen. I know what works for me and what doesn’t. It’s time to let go of what doesn’t. A few examples would be stress, constant planning (letting days, meals, plans, etc. unfold organically is both hugely challenging and incredibly freeing, for a person like me), extremism of any sort, rules (vegan, raw, organic, etc.), and peer pressure. It is up to us to make decisions for ourselves. I am a health nut, I’m not ashamed of it. My family may eat what they like, they may wonder how I no longer crave the things I did as a child; my peers may imbibe and wonder why I choose not to; my co-workers may eat meat and marvel at my choice to be a vegetarian. It’s not up to me to convince anyone else. It’s not up to me to preach my ways, or offer unsolicited advice. I am overjoyed to cook for my family (and even more overjoyed that they love my cooking!). I know I seem extreme to them, and it reminds me to tone down my urge to be extreme (remember we typically have an aversion to something we feel strongly about, and my aversion to extremism almost operates like a magnet, I have to work all the harder to stay away from that behavior). We are ever evolving. We can be convinced we are on the right path and satisfied with our “way” this year and then by 2015 perhaps the path will have totally changed course…or perhaps not; it could be a honed, lucid path by then, one never knows.
So let us live honestly, with all of our hearts, and let go of what no longer serves us. Letting go is cathartic, it takes courage. For me, 2013 is about letting go. Because in letting go, we free our hands to scoop up all of the glorious wonder we’ve yet to discover.
Happy New Year!