Put your Hand on your FUCKING heart (, Love)

Whoa whoa whoa. Waking up, snoozing or not.  Crack of dawn or mid-day.  The expression of awakeness doesn’t matter.  When I wake up, usually, to my early-ass alarm, or whether you sleep way in after a Netflix binge, or food binge, or other form of numbing binge, are you with yourself?

Generally, I have a racing heart (sry #HeartRateVariability) and am in a stimulated place (and I’m not talking #morningwood shit…).  I am what Ayurveda calls “rajasic“.  Unsettled.  Rawr.

“Charged”

High adrenaline in the body is a way to prepare for mobilization, movement. So, I’m primed to metabolize those hormones through exercise.  I hop on my bike and 99% of the time, red-line my threshold.  One word goes through my mind when I think of the resultant state from this: subdued.

I met the base-jumpers who hop off the Squamish Chief.  (They’re cool cats)

Image result for cat memes

#CoolCats

We chatted about my fascination with the topic I am studying of stress addictionThis was after I had scrambled leggies for second breakfast aka I 18:48’d it up the fist peak.  On a busy Sunday….(I now don’t bring a watch anymore when scrambling because I am not trusting myself with how far I can go with my athletic pursuits…I actually scared myself).

They are very much adrenaline junkies So, they could relate to the itch they got to get high.  

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The word I explained and that also got some nods was that of driving home after their jump(s) and my scramble is subdued.  It’s like this crazy calm, not dissimilar from that of someone who just smoked a J, or drank some wine, or shotted some meth….and that’ s cool, right?  #coolcat…the yang it needed in life, maybe not drug-related.  The issue I feel, is when the dependency roots for that feeling.  The addiction cycle providing respite, definition by Bae Gabor Mate is (paraphrased):

The moment after satisfying a craving, whereby the addict for a fleeting second no longer is hungry for the drug.

So, what the individual craves more than anything, is that space in-between where there is no ravenous appetite to be sedated.  There is a fleeting moment of peace.

So, isn’t what we all crave, simply that space?

I truly don’t think there’s anything wrong with base-jumping, running, wine, weed, ok maybe meth isn’t so great….but to be able to trust the self enough not to depend on it is where freedom lies.  Being rendered choiceless in one’s dependency for the satisfaction of a craving, the very dependency upon the craving, is where the disparity lies.

To scratch the itch of craving is beautiful.  But desperation, that’s the fear.  The inability to imagine not satisfying the craving, or having the craving be so big and so consuming that it blinds oneself of the view of other of life’s limbs is dangerous.

That is the way we cope.

The expression of the drug is not important.  Where did we lose our inner ability to feel satisfied sans-drugs?  Gabor says it lies in trauma, attachment styles, and overall not gaining the resources within ourselves from a young age that gave us the self-efficacy to self-soothe.  So we are addicts, seeking that high.

To remedy this, is to I believe learn to re-trust the self.  Cultivate safety in daily life.  Practice in small windows, the feeling of presence and connection.

To wake up, regardless of what time it is, and put hand on heart.  Feel the heart beat.  That is always there (unless #death…).  That grounds us.  That’s presence, in the flesh (pun intended #afterallthistimealways).

Ok.

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On Feeling “Behind”

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I’m tired of feeling behind.

Late for my 5am alarm.
Late for my career goals at my 28 years on this earth.
Late for not having a period.
Late for still* dealing with mental health (but like, I still have a mind, though).
Late to eat lunch, dinner, snack.
Late to sleep.
Does the cycle end?

I actually cover up the clocks around my little (big*) world: the oven, microwave is shut off, my laptop has the clock disabled from the dashboard, I’ve put a sticker from a drink bottle overtop my car’s ticker, I cover my phone with my hand when I open it to read a text, my watch for my timer setting is always on the 00:00.

Time stresses me out.
Like Bailey from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, “not having enough time”, although I’m (hopefully? Can’t ever know for sure hey?) not dying from Cancer as she was, with a ticker countdown on her longevity, I feel the pressure.  Not just long-term, but on the daily, momentarily, minutely.
The concept of time is to me like a constant monitor, a constant gauge of judgement on how I am matching up to standards.  Who’s standards, though?  Who decides what defines “on time”?
Ho no know.
But the feeling is there.
I have to remind myself that there’s no threat to my pace, there’s no one tracking me.  There’s no measure against which I have to be standardized against that will define how “well” I am doing.  Life is not black or white.
I feel like often, the pressure of time is such that I frequently default to the coping mechanisms that accompany the stress-response; fight, flight or freeze.  These serve to only slow my progress forward.  If my general time-based fear is predicated upon the idea of being “late”, then these coping reactions only serve to keep me from moving forward, halt any momentum however slowly it forward-moves.
I guess it comes down to acceptance.  Gentle acceptance of wherever I am.  Comparison-free.  No measures upon which to measure up to.  Because although I’m not that girl, or this guy, or a CEO, or blah blah blah, I am this. That’s it.  SO, fuck.  What does this mean.  I accept and feel into wherever I am trusting that wherever it is I am doing my best.  It isn’t possible to see huge gains whatever those gains might look like, every. damn. day.
Nature well-reflects this.  It’s not like from winter, all of a sudden comes fall.  And what’s the fucking rush?  To go where?  It’s the little micro moments that deserve my undevoted attention.  In each moment is undeniable depth and potential.  Maybe not so much efficiency, but effectiveness is the stress-less way to move.  Quality over quantity.  Going into the task.  Like each breath.  Each person with which I interact.  Not how many clients I have, but how much I am able to initiate the momentum of change in each client.  Maybe those shifts move mountains.  Maybe that wholesomeness translates and overflows into other realms of life.  Maybe from that one client, I get a referral.  Maybe not. Maybe that client then waterfalls healing into someone else.  And the momentum continues.  That’s beautiful.
Ok, so in this moment, I’m right on time, I think.
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A Case Against Positivity

life sucks

Hear me out.

I overheard a girl talking to her two friends on the way down from the Chief a couple of days ago saying:

“I’m really trying to be more positive in life and look at the bright side of things.”

There were excited mini-cheers of endearment and support following from her buds.
Which is cool n stuff…truly, if you’re at a place in your life where equanimity floods your daily conduct, and Muggle things like getting eggshells out of your scramble leaves you unphased, or running through the pissing rain has you all “extra shower”, or your roommate’s bass from their music upstairs (why is it ever OK to listen to Pit Bull okhmmm?) then (*cough cough Buddha) you’ve past some lifetimes and #jahbless.  But this is a case for being Human and understanding that the only way out is through.

Enter the concept: spiritual bypassing.  Basically, this is when we try to act as if we’re already where we want to be in life, without taking the truck through shit to get there.

This is not a negative striving though, truly, it’s actually pretty damn (not darn, never darn, sweet Jesus) beautiful.  The fact that we really genuinely want to be the best people we can be as quickly as possible is lovely.  The problem is that the very experience of human states and accepting our annoying complaints without superimposing rainbows and butterflies into our life is what leads eventually to that learned lesson in life.  When we go through the acceptance, the ability to let go of Life’s little annoyances I think eventually lets go of us.  Because the thing is, maybe we can teach ourselves to plaster a smile on our faces whenever we feel a frown, and conditionally impose the stimulus-response Pavlovian science on our human habits, but for how long? How long before we see a puppy shit on our newly planted vegetable garden and just lose it? Before Pit Pull comes on in the checkout line when we’re hangry and our blood curls and we take it out on a loved one when we get home after seeing that dinner’s not prepared as was promised?

My point is that I believe if we are on the path to self-betterment, then naturally we will want to achieve what we aspire towards.  Of course, ideally, I really wish that I wouldn’t get to frustrated when my gut is fucked up (STILL) from antibiotics and I’m shitting like 10x/day.  Of course maybe you don’t want to feel anger running through you when you hear yet another vegan rave about cashew cheese or zoodles (is that just me?), or when your latte tastes burnt, or your yoga class is cancelled, or or or or…but fuck, we feel those things though, don’t we?  Is it really our faults we came to this earth, learned our behaviours, got shit passed down from neurological pathways and evolutionary tendencies for survival of the fittest such that our minds are wired to be little pieces of shit?

Nope.

So, I stopped the group of friends on they way down and 1.5x podcast speeded through the above to them (thanks for not telling me to fuck-off), and they were like “Whoa, true, hey?”

I honestly trust that there’s a process we go through to get to where we want to be, how we want to feel.

I don’t let go of my thoughts.  I meet them with understanding, and then my thoughts let go of me.

–  Byron Katie

So, I’m choosing to acknowledge the suck.  I choose to accept that I feel pissed right the fuck off sometimes, and others, maybe pissed a little the merde ouf.  Either way, I feel it, name it (powerful practice to name the emotion–creates a distance from living it, and observing it.  With this space, we can see it pass through us and not embody us), accept it.  That’s step one.

I think if I tried to just press fast-forward, I would end up exploding and throughout the process, most likely indulge in more coping mechanisms to dissipate the excess “scabbing” that takes place to bottle-neck the emotions.

e-motion: energy in motion.

A.K.A. that shit has gotta move.  Somewhere.  So avoiding it just traps it.  Facing it is bloody bold and courageous.  Feeling the feeling, and acknowledging it is both empowering and admirable.  If we simply express the anger without acknowledging it, then we are no more awake that were we to superimpose happiness on shitty situation.  So the golden formula is:

Feeling + Acknowledging = Growth

The whole point of spirituality is connecting more deeply with ourselves.  And what better way than to let ourselves feel.  After all, truly, our soul genuinely is love, and with compassionate understanding, the shit will eventually brush off of us, and with gentle insight and inquiry into our feelings, we’ll uncover what’s beneath them.

Something like that.

Namaste, mother lovers.

Ps. If you haven’t yet listened to Iliza Shlesinger saythatfivetimesfast then you have so much room for activities!

Stress Addiction

This term has been around my body and percolating for the 12 years whereby I have had no period.  Hypothalamic Amenorrhea: a state I’ve talked about in previous posts is when the body perceives external threats to be such that it preserves life by shutting down peripheral processes.

I believe that parts of me survived by fight/flight/freeze in response to past trauma.  Now, their habitual tendencies latch on whenever they perceive outside experiences as outside their realm of coping.

Bring in addiction.  Addiction to this state of stimulation is what I feel.  And as I’m becoming more aware of this state in my life, I am speaking more about it.  I have come across people on the Squamish Chief, in cafe’s around Cumberland and now Squamish, in the therapy room for sure, in the library.  After chatting, they can relate to the feeling of ease and comfort with being “turned on”.

I believe that addiction is a universal term.  I believe that my own path is this:  the more I live out of automation, haste, anxiety, the more I feel the need to detach myself from the actions and ensuing choices that just don’t seem to align with my subconscious virtues.

Do you understand or relate to this?   I know the “that’s not my hand!” feeling when it’s almost as if you’re watching someone that isn’t you, do things?

night eating

 

This is the act of living outside of the present moment and being disconnected from yourself.  I believe that the more I feel threatened, the more I am living numbed.  The more I live numbed, the more I make choices that don’t make me feel aligned and the more I want to numb.

Vicious cycle.

It’s in details like:

  • when an injury/pain arises (I wasn’t listening to my body, I wasn’t in-tune)
  • when I crave an ice-cold shower (repenting, compensating, punishment)
  • when I CRAVE.  Straight up, just crave.  It could be anything, but it is noticeably charged
  • when I get a migraine (probably from undernourishment)
  • when I feel lonely or a sense of “ennui” (I didn’t seek out the support I needed because I was preoccupied with the insanely energy-consuming task of tending to my anxieties, my anxiety experience in general, busying myself and exhausting myself subconsciously as a way to escape and run away from the pain)
  • Bloat, gas, discomfort in digestion, GERD, IBS: food choices as a source of coping vs intuitive nourishment.
  • Excessive and obsessive skin picking in the bathroom mirror. (hot/cold flashes, sometimes self-inflicted, leaving my insides seeking a release)

This is a big realization for me.  That the remedy as the yogis have always said, the very definition of Yo-Ga (oneness, mind-body, connection), is to tune into myself.

I actually want to have a harmonious relationship with myself, my body-mind.

I want to feel my body.

I’m actually fully writing this in the library bathroom right now because I am having some gut-issues (lingering antibiotics “hangover” of diminished gut flora).  I feel that when my digestion is off, I run around in a hurried state because of the utter confusion that ensues and the choices that I make after it: food choices that make me body more confused, energy fluxes, emotional upheaval.

That’s it: confusion.

Confusion from the disconnect from my body, mind and soul.  Uncertainty is a state that can be peaceful if I am present with it, present fully in my body with it.  But the honest and imperative remedy is to be connected with myself.

(Breath is huge in this journey.  HUGE)

Namaste. Or something.

The Universal Root of Addiction

Holy shit.

I am a little bit of “holy shit”, and I say that amicably.  Yesterday, I approached a gentleman smoking at a cafe and bluntly invited him to punch me in the neck via nosily asking him why he smokes.

You see, I’m fascinated about the nature of addiction, (even The Man, Gabor Mate expresses in that vid that he has a hard time stopping a meal…and experiences “fear of end of meal”-syndrome, #nahmean?) and I offered amicable banter via an inquiry about his attraction to smoking, when he knows it’s not good for him. ( I was clear about my intentions being directly reflecting my own addictions with food.)

We chatted, my neck was spared, (thanks, man) and he was a rad warrior of a human being.  His story was great, having battled addiction in life.  He said he was aware of the dangers of smoking, just as I am aware of the dangers of restriction.  He is enlisted to quit, and he damn sure will.  He said that his battles of addiction stem from an avoidance of pain. (long story short bc aintnobodygottimeforlongblogposts…similar to when looking for a recipe online…and the “prologue” to the ingredients is a novel….bloggers who have the “skip to recipe” button are angels).

My blog post about wanting to feel my pain was big emotionally, and now after speaking with him, I’ve realized what Bulimia served, and what Anorexia is serving for me now: as much as my being is craving to feel my pain, there is a part of me that is equally as resistant to feeling it.  Man, Anorexia is serving to keep me out of presence for the exact reason of avoiding pain.

Honestly, I can’t believe that this is hitting me now as awareness.  I’ve read about this so many times, but it totally just clicked yesterday, not too dissimilar from how you “just click” when you learn how to find your stroke in swimming. You just click that “downward dog” is the pose that dogs really do….maybe that was just me….took me a while…or that dogs are in a permanent push-up position…Life’s so strange that way, that we can read things so many times, but when they “click” it’s like a veil is lifted, it’s like a good poop.

And so, I called a good friend last night as I finished dinner still hungry.

I realized that when I restrict, it’s because I’m pretty damn good at controlling so that I’m just undernourished enough to be able to plan my next meal, to routinize and “time-fill” because if I am sated and present, fuck, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself.  There’s almost this non-reality of living in a haze when I’m still hungry, and it’s total numbing.  It’s non-rational thinking because my cells are in survival mode.  It’s a way of living under intoxication.

I don’t feel like I know myself, and I’m learning to love myself.  I am so scared to sit with a full belly, probably bloated (because eating disorders fuck with your gut- and no amount of kraut will heal that shit…it’s gotta come from inside, the seat of self-love, where I’ll no longer self-sabotage), knowing that I’ll be gaining weight, and in spite of it not being about the physical appearance, it’s the act of being in a state of treating myself well while respecting my needs.

I am scared to not punish myself.  I am scared to accept that I deserve to be healthy.  Omg, I’ve grown up my whole life feeling like a loser and I’m terrified to defy that belief.  I’m scared to sit with satiety and fight the inner voice that says I’m: gross, ugly, unworthy, useless…never good enough.

whoa

So today, I had a private swim training client, and it felt fucking good to be in my element like when I coached out in Vancouver.  I really “get” the swim technique, and I love helping other people.  She was so lovely, and it felt really good to be authentically in a healthy state of helping.  I’ve realized that I’ve been walking on eggshells in Anorexia and Bulimia, not living.  I’ve been waiting for life. I’ve been passing time in a numb state to Life, and that’s why my efforts to find my passion or a fucking job are useless because the initiatives aren’t authentic – they’re literally just a distraction until my next meal.  I haven’t been in a healthy state in so damn long, and the universebelike:

bitch please

Glennon Doyle Melton: huge.  If you want to learn more, these two videos were epic in my moments of realization yesterday.  If you have interest in these, watch them.  Please, for yourself.

Thank you Claire, and Deanne for passing them along and for the fucking amazing universe for this.

Sitting with fullness is going to fucking suck.  But you know what sucks more?  The idea of living this half-ass-one-cheeked-bony-bummed life for the rest of my existence.

And so to that life, I say, “Bitch please!”

Also: Sonya, my god, you made my day.  And a continued thank you for all the love, it’s mind-blowing.  Thank you for helping me fight, from my whole heart!

Anorexia and the Window of Tolerance

Warning: “informative read” aka kind of boring but really good insight #ifimaysaysomyself….

Anorexia Nervosa is physically visible as a disease of bodily malnourishment, and can be easily spotted in a struggling individual. Physical markers like shockingly low weight, gaunt face, cold hands and feet, inability to focus, among others, are easy to spot. However, the deeper seated malnourished inside the mind hides more than only the body shows. The psychological turmoil faced by those suffering ranges from abuse, trauma, pain, lack of control, a poor or non-existent self-worth, and more. Overall, the suppression of pain has been cultivated by the anorexic, in order to survive a life circumstance. Of the many causes, the reaction is the same, and can be expressed as an inability to stay within a symbolically thin window of tolerance. Mindfulness, and reconnecting with the lost sense of self as one learns to reacquaint themselves with safety in their own presence is key in healing from Anorexia Nervosa.

Trauma, regardless of the avenue experienced, is something many of us face in our lives. Through evolutionary coping mechanisms that instill a survival instinct, we engage in dissociation as a protective means to attempt to find peace and to live on. An eating disorder manifests in this way, by means of coping and controlling external stimuli when feeling out of locus of control. The Anorexic feels forced to dissociate from their body, to not live inside it, but to hover on the outside, where they feel safely disconnected from the source of trauma and pain. This is a very wise way in which to survive pain and threat, and is defined as the Fight or Flight response. The Fight response directly speaks to a feeling of emotional overwhelm, panic, feeling unsafe, angry, racing thoughts and anxiety. This can be named the state of “hyper-arousal”, and is a state of coping where we have left our window of the tolerable level of trauma experience in our lives, and are in overdrive of engagement. By contrast, hypo-arousal, the “flight” response, is where the individual numbs themselves, disconnecting from painful thoughts, engaging in feelings of shame and diving into a deep, isolating depression. It should be noted that both states cultivate a sense of isolation, as an Eating Disorder originates from feeling unsafe in one’s own body. And so, by receding from contact, the Anorexic is seeking to blanket themselves away from harm’s way.

Conversely, the happy window of tolerance that is to be cultivated for a physically and psychologically healthy individual is one that can be described as a condition where one finds it easy to carry on with daily life in a state of well being. When this window is in an appropriate range, life’s challenges are easy to cope with. When the window shrinks through dissociation, receding, numbing and when survival mode kicks in, many events are triggers into dissociation from the body, and the coping mechanisms harnessed are engaged. For anorexics, this being self-starvation.

Although the causes range drastically of why trauma occurred that shook the person so much that they found life to be unsafe, the idea of suppression and dissociation are always present. This is why the healing process must include a reintegration of the self back inwards. Emotional resilience results from a deep sense of connection with one’s needs, and is in a healthy state of balance within a range of tolerance when the boundaries of one’s limits are known, and able to be recognized in the present moment. Physical markers by form of body signals are shown, such as a rapid pulse, body temperature, observing racing thoughts, cold or hot flashes, restlessness or a sense of apathy. When these informative feelings surface, it is important to acknowledge them, and to reflect upon their source. This is the beginning of cultivating a sense of mindfulness back into the body, when the Anorexic has made it an innate habit to shut off the mechanisms of feeling emotions. By using meditative and mindfulness techniques, the healing journey can begin, and slowly, compoundedly, the Anorexic will gain awareness that the coping mechanisms that once saved them are no longer needed, as the threat is gone. In this way, the window of tolerance will widen, when occurrences are no longer seen as threats to one’s safety. A deep sense of ease will be reinstilled into one’s life, fuelled by an unwavering sense of self-knowledge, self-trust, and calamity to face life’s challenges. As this process takes place, the coping of self-starvation will slowly be weaned. Techniques like yoga, meditation, Qi gong, reflection, journaling, focusing on the breath, psychological therapy, and art expression are all means though which grounding self-knowledge provides a healing space to recover from loss of self, and from a life outside one’s shrunken window of tolerance.

Anorexia Nervosa is a debilitating illness, whose cause has a multitude of trauma. However, manifestation in dissociation from one’s body, and a loss of sense of self are all present and necessary in order for the disease to form patterns in the Anorexic. By becoming aware of the self through methods like Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation, Qi Gong, talk-therapy, journaling, reflection, art therapy and more, an Anorexic is able to widen their window of tolerance and learn to feel safe in the world. As this regrounding process takes place, the window of tolerance widens, and one can slowly learn to end the coping cycle of self-starvation. The hope of recover is something that every hurt person needs, and getting support through this process is integral to a wholesome recovery. Pain is not a feeling that is enjoyable to experience, but by observing it and trusting in the self to overcome it, life becomes more safe. It is not that we tolerate more pain; it is that fewer of life’s challenges cause us to lose our ground, as fewer are experienced as pain. Knowing thyself is the gift of liberation, and there is hope.

Sources:

“Mindfulness And The Window Of Tolerance”. St. Michael’s Hospital Mental Health (2017): n. pag. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.

Melanie Sakowski is a Holistic Nutritionist, a Yoga Instructor, a Triathlete and an Eating Disorder warrior on a healing journey in Toronto. She believes in the power of self-connection through mind-body work in a holistic view of wellness, and looks forward to helping others heal from trauma through a multifaceted approach to wellness.