Monday, August 6, 2012

Core Work

A friend sent this to me. I'm not sure where credit is due, but in the wide world of inspirational jpegs, I'm quite fond of this one!

So, yes, I've been discouraged. I've made HUGE strides with my anxiety and my eating disorder. I feel like I am swinging less between normal eating habits and weird binges on "new" and exciting, previously restricted foods, I'm not punishing myself for spending hot summer nights drinking margaritas and eating tacos with my babe... But, I find that every time I take a step forward in one area, I take two back in another! So, all this great, great work aside, I'm in constant career bum out mode, and it is great to have a reason to refocus, and show some loved ones their light, so I can remember where mine is!

Chris left for 3 weeks in the Midwest this morning and on the way to the airport I resolved to practice yoga for a minimum of 60- 90 minutes everyday until he returns. 21 days. Yoga every day. For the last year or so I've been practicing primarily with teachers who always seem to have a theme for class, so as I was sitting on the 110, crying like a baby wishing it were the end of the month already, I decided to chin up and sit up, and work on my discipline.

So, August will be about core work.

My physical core has always been my weakest link, and it results in lots of injuries, pain, and is just a disheartening and constant reminder of my lack of discipline in certain areas of my life. At work, when I'm working, no problem, I'm all discipline all the time. But, I, like a lot of others, have a hard time disciplining myself to do my own work. Discipline, of course, is even harder to maintain when I've spent more than a year un(der)employed and doing overtime (and making real strides!) on my eating disorder and anxiety. The looking for work and the doing of tough emotional work is exhausting and makes it easy to lose sight of the light sometimes. But, when I look at myself now, compared to last fall and winter, I may not look as svelte as I'd like, but I have muscles again, and a glow and a tan and a smile that I'd like to hold up with my heart out. And... I'm writing, and making art, and conceiving of (and actually starting!) projects... So, ab work, here we go!

In yoga, pretty much every pose and transition, executed properly, uses all the strength of your core. When you're not using those wrapping, lifting muscles, asanas feel heavy and crunched, your back or hips will start to strain because you aren't lifting up and supporting yourself. The same is true when you're not practicing... If you lose the support of your core, your joyful heart, your stable connection to yourself, you crunch down and get heavy, moving is laborious, goals become obscured.

So, I am confident that making this temporary commitment to intensive daily discipline will be rewarding, and illustrate that discipline doesn't have to be a vacation from my modus operandi. Instead of being a sacrifice, or something that is overwhelming, daily discipline can add levity to challenges, bring a smile to my face, and help keep things like a year of un(der)employment in perspective!

In addition to the daily yoga I'm also going to focus on revisiting the core of my other daily practices by eating simply, restricting alcohol to 1- 2 drinks / week, and dedicating time to meditation and reflection on my values, goals, and current projects every day. Having been vegan for several years, making compassionate choices for food, cosmetics, and other consumables is easy, but as these choices become automatized, the awareness they used to bring to my other activities-- the way I share the sidewalk, or my thoughts, or express my concerns, affections, or frustrations-- has diminished. At the core of myself there is an active joy, a powerful belief in a kindness that stems from active thought, creativity, and awareness, but this core can be obscured by ways of being that are "less work," like laziness, poor listening, and a short tempered response. These responses seem like less work in the present, but create more work in the future! It's the same with yoga-- work the part of the pose you can now, actively imagine yourself coming into the full pose, even if your body isn't ready. Your mind will get you there before your biceps bulge, as long as you hold your center :)

While this is usually a recipe blog, it's been so hot, and I've honestly been feeling so bummed and discouraged, that I haven't been cooking too much lately. I'm afraid the next several weeks will be equally dry in terms of exciting recipes as I'm trying to not only eat simply, but also to save money for a trip to the redwoods and a friend's wedding over Labor Day weekend. So, expect yoga updates, and lentils, and breakdown trips to cafe gratitude!

In the meantime, I made this soup, with only minor adjustments, last week and we loved it! I definitely recommend shelling out for the Rancho Gordo beans if you can (these are amazing and so creamy and beautiful, and in the bulk bins in our whole foods!!!), but I'm equally sure that black eyed peas or great northern beans would be really good in this as well. It makes a ton of soup, freezes well, and yes, you definitely are going to use two heads of garlic in this recipe. Don't skimp! I added a drizzle of equal parts parsley purée and olive oil with a bit of lemon zest and sea salt when serving, and have been reheating the soup with cubed zucchini to stretch it out and amp up the veggie component. Enjoy.

With wishes for love and lightness, and strong centers!