Endorsing Myself

Dear Reader:
Endorse yourself today.
You deserve it.

Dearest Bella:

As the title suggests, this is a letter from yourself, to yourself, to endorse yourself for the enlightened being that you are. Just kidding – you’re not enlightened. Not yet anyway. But stay on this path, and you’ll get there.

This letter is simply to endorse your recovery – your super, badass recovery.

Confused reading these words on a screen? Understandable. I’ll explain:

You wrote this letter by hand 4 months ago, and now you’re sharing it with the world. As much as you hate the internet, you recognize that it serves a purpose. It supports humans in their exchange of ideas.

Furthermore, you recognize that as soon as you hit “Publish,” your endorsement of yourself will become an invitation to readers – an invitation to endorse their own selves.

That’s right: You – you, who are reading this – you are invited to endorse yourself, and you must, once you finish this paragraph.

Endorse yourself for your next breath.

Back to you, Bella:

It is Saturday, August 4th, 2019: Day-2 of your 2-Day ashtanga yoga workshop in Covington, Louisiana – a town an hour away from yours – in service of your Teacher Training. Yesterday you spent 5 hours in the studio, and you’re doing the same today.

You were scared to participate. You understood ashtanga to be incredibly physically rigorous, and you feared the impact it would have on your body.

You feared it would trigger your obsession with exercise. You feared you would push yourself too far. Most of all, you feared how it would impact your eating schedule. You worried about what you would eat and when.

You were also asked to drive a student you had never met before, someone with a similar history. You said yes, welcoming the opportunity to be of service and recalling wisdom from your recovery sponsor: “When someone wants to work with you, you always say yes.”

The night before the carpool date, fear reared its ugly head. You worried this person would trigger you, and you wanted to forgo the whole weekend. But you took the risk. You said “yes” to life and asked the Universe to guide you, which naturally, it did.

You packed lunch and snacks. You made a new friend.
You ate a snack before the physical practice and lunch after at 4 pm, even though it was late and you were due at a 7-o’clock dinner with your family.

If your eating disorder had been active, you would not have eaten lunch. You would have judged it “too close to dinner.” Your goal would not have been to satiate yourself in the moment. It would have been to restrict your calories so that you’d be hungry in time for dinner.

You would have fought to keep your body on a rigid schedule you deemed appropriate. You would have anticipated your future needs and disregarded your present ones.

But this time you took a different approach. Instead of trying to control your body’s eating and starving yourself to ensure you’d be hungry later, you nourished your body in the moment which allowed you to relax. 

The evening flowed from there.

You allowed your body to metabolize and digest its food at the rate it desired, rather than attempting to control it as you used to, and the timing of your next meal took care of itself.

You asked your mother to move the reservation to 7:30, and she did, which allowed you to savor the drive and connect with your new friend. You even took a tour of her apartment.

You had been so resistant to the meeting, but you found you had everything in common. Despite being 11 years apart and attending rival high schools, you shared in-patient and out-patient treatment providers. You realized she was your mirror and your sister in recovery—not by any means a threat.

By the time you reached the restaurant and ordered, you wound up eating between 8 and 9 o’clock – roughly 4 hours after lunch – perfect. You continued to take care of yourself as the night drew on, leaving dinner early to meditate, shower, play with your dogs, and call your significant other.

You then slept for 10 hours. Instead of asking your friend to Uber to your house in the morning, you flexibly agreed to pick her up from a service, which allowed you to discover a local spiritual center.

But here’s where you really thrived. Here’s where you really conquered your all-or-nothing thinking and struck a balance:

Since the day before you had pushed yourself physically, you checked in with your body. It was sore. Additionally, your appetite was high. Knowing your limits, you feared participating in Day 2 of the workshop.

However, instead of bailing on your commitment to your teacher and your friend (who had no other form of transportation), you sent a simple text message to your teacher.

You let her know that today, rather than participate in the physical part of the practice, you would simply sit and observe. You also ate lunch before the practice started—because that’s when your body wanted it.

Which brings us to right now.

The practice is underway, and you are perched in the corner observing – not just the physical practitioners, but your own consciousness, own thoughts.

You are setting a healthy example. You are letting the training nourish and strengthen your body, rather than overwork it. You are learning from your teacher and your peers by watching from the outside.

And you’re still practicing yoga.

You may not be in a vinyasa flow, but you are in a flow – a writing flow. A flow in which you embody yoga’s ethical principles.

You are practicing ahimsa – nonviolence – to your body by sitting on a cushion in the corner.

You are practicing satya – truth – by listening to your body, honestly interpreting its needs, and voicing those needs to your teacher. Not only are you taking it easy, but you are owning the fact that you’re doing so.

You are practicing brahmacharya – non-excess – of physical exercise.

You are practicing aparigraha – non-attachment – to the agenda and curriculum of the training.

You are practicing asteya – nonstealing – of your body’s chance to rest and your chance to connect with your teacher, who created a cozy corner of cushions just for you, as well as giving you time to finish your lunch before beginning the practice.

She wanted you to be present with the group from start to finish, regardless of your level of participation, and you let that in. You let in that sense of inclusion, of belonging.

You savored the moment when she patted you affectionately on the head, smiling down at you while she cued the practitioners. You got goosebumps, moved by her unexpected kindness and love. Had you pushed yourself to practice, you would have robbed yourself of those moments.

You feel so loved right now, so held right now, so thrilled by your decision to show up – so thrilled to meet yourself where you are and be witnessed.

You benefitted deeply from showing up today.
You learned to take ownership of your practice.
You paid for this workshop; the hours are yours.
You found a way to let them serve you.

You learned that yoga need not be strenuous, need not be a chore.
You learned that, above all, real yoga is love.

Real yoga is showing up unapologetically, exactly as you are, both on and off the mat. It is about sensation, never forcing. It is about inquiry.

You are here, in this training, to connect with like-minded people, to learn be a leader and a healer. You are not here to become a “fitness extraordinaire.”

Today, you strengthened your ability to voice your needs and trust your instincts, and you learned from your teacher’s response. The kindness she showed you when you voiced your needs to her is kindness you can show future students who voice their needs to you.

Congratulations, Bella.
Congratulations on showing up despite hesitation and choosing to see what happens.

Gone are the days of black and white thinking.
Gone are the days of agenda. 

Here are the days of embracing shades of grey.
Here are the days of surrender.

Thank you for endorsing yourself. For letting me endorse you.
Now go forth, and endorse the world.

Your Higher Self

For Jarina, who urged me to make class therapeutic, even though I didn’t know what she meant.  

Thank you for reading.

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