“For it is in giving that we receive.” St. Francis of Assisi
Because yoga can reveal uncomfortable truths, this happened:
Twice a week I go to gentle yoga. The class is made up almost entirely of beautiful men and women of a certain retired age. And me. Although it is terribly unenlightened to compare my practice to theirs I must share some striking differences. Their movements are fluid and sure. They have immense focus, wisdom, and grace. By the end of class they float out of the studio carrying their mat without looking rumpled. Meanwhile, I feel like I just went 8 seconds on a bull named Tatonka. While they use blocks, bolsters, bands, and modifications to fully benefit from the poses, I …still foolishly think intensity is better and go for the burn (insert head shake here).
But here is the promised reveal: In one of these recent “bull-riding sessions” I learned the concept of balance in a wholly new way. Kathleen Olsen was our gifted teacher. She explained we cannot receive a full breath of air if we don’t completely release the existing air. In other words, let it all out in order to take fullness in. Yin and yang dictates there must be a balance between giving and receiving. For example, if we only give without ever receiving we get burned out. If we only receive we become self-absorbed and our world becomes myopic. During naptime (the end of yoga when we lay still with our eyes closed and think about nothing) she shared this quote by Elizabeth Bibesco:
“Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.”
Do those words remind you to embrace gratitude? For our bodies to talk we need to remember in gratitude the gift of our bodies, and… here’s the hard part: let go in order for our design to function properly. It is a bullish misplaced notion in society that we must tune out our needs and overpower them with sheer will in order to control our calorie or carbohydrate intake—which is the opposite of letting go. To clearly hear the prompts from our bodies we must let go, trust, and listen. Letting go extends into all aspect of ideal weight. We let go of the idea that certain foods are allowed and others are not (gluten, sugar, meat, dairy, fat, salt, or other trending prohibitions). We let go of the fallacy that a temporary behavior (diet or program) will have a permanent result. We let go of the lie that if one French fry is good, five hundred must be even better. And most importantly, we let go of the coping mechanisms that we have relied on to feel a false sense of control.
Ironically, the scariest thing in the world is getting exactly what we want. Really, it is. Getting what we want is scary because in order to have ideal weight (without playing weight-maintenance games) we must let go of those fiercely protected coping mechanisms and habits we have relied on in the past. Our coping mechanisms are accompanied by a sense of life or death. If we don’t employ them we feel panic and terrible anxiety. So, letting go of them takes a lot of courage—but it can be done if we let go.
What kinds of things would you need to let go of in order to have your body “tell” you the ideal portion size today?
- The lie that eating more than you need feels good?
- Fear of claiming your real preferences (such as: your preference for the right food, in the amount that makes you feel energized, balanced, and well)?
- False conversations about how you “deserve” a binge?
- Frustration over things you cannot control such as: medications, injury, illness, grief, age, and trauma?
- Some ugly self-hate so you can hear the body talk?
- Your cycle of emotion and despair that ultimately leads to a binge or imbalance?
- Can you forgive yourself for creating a very effective and innovative coping mechanism that does not harm anyone else?
- Can you trust your body is designed with the exquisite ability to know what you need?
Please continue making your own laundry list of things you want to let go. The following quote finished out my yoga class and reminded me of my endless blessings:
“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
May you be rich. May you have peace and balance. I love your goodness and light. Be well my friend.