Weekend Reading, 1.21.18
January 21, 2018

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I remember being introduced to the concept of anavasthitatva the first time I read the yoga sutras. I’ve seen this word translated as “regression,” “backsliding,” and—my favorite—”slipping down from the ground gained.”

I was struck by the concept because I wasn’t far into anorexia recovery at the time, and discouragement at my own regressions, even minor ones, was one of my biggest challenges. It’s hard to say what was a bigger problem: the fact that I still got tangled up in old habits, or the fact that I felt so defeated when it happened.

The Yoga Sutras sum this pattern up perfectly:

“Another obstacle is slipping down from the ground one has gained. This puzzles many people. Beginners, for example, will practice with intense interest. Every day they will feel more and more interested and feel they are progressing steadily. They may even be proud of their progress. All of a sudden one day they will find that they have lost everything and slipped down to rock bottom.
It happens to many people. If we know it is a common occurrence on the spiritual path, we won’t get disheartened. Otherwise, we will say ‘Oh, I lost everything. There is no hope for me,’ and we lose all our interest. Let us know that this is common in the case of every aspirant. The mind can’t function on the same level always—it has heights and depths. If there is going to be steady progress always, there will be no challenge, no game in it.”

If you tend toward perfectionism, it can take a lot less than rock bottom to evoke that feeling of puzzlement or being disheartened. And it rings very true to me that acceptance of regression is a fundamental part of moving forward.

I regressed in various ways this week, for all sorts of reasons: being sleep deprived, feeling overwhelmed with the start of my final semester, interpersonal triggers, the ebb and flow of my moods. I fell into patterns that have been pretty dormant since last year, including the listless inertia that always characterizes my depression, self-destructive impulses, self-pity, and overthinking.

The big challenge, of course, was to accept the inevitability and normalcy of slippage, and to avoid panic at old “stuff” resurfacing. I think I did alright. I was uncomfortable and unhappy to be reunited with tendencies and feelings that cause me pain, but I didn’t create a dire story about it. Instead, I let it be what it was, and I reminded myself that it would shift. (It hasn’t yet, but it will.)

On many occasions I’ve written or said that I don’t really regard regressions in ED recovery as “lost” ground; instead, I see treading through old terrain as an important part of moving forward. It’s often not until you revisit old habits with fresh eyes that you’re able to truly see them for what they are, and sometimes it takes an experience of relapse to become fully committed to recovery. That’s how it was for me, anyway.

Today, I’m issuing the same thought to myself in the context of overall mental and physical well-being. Feeling the tug of my “worst” tendencies doesn’t mean that I’m not moving forward. I find it helpful to think of growth not as a linear process—with only the possibility of forward or backward motion—but as a winding and expansive one. Embracing unruliness is part of my work these days, so a meandering map is probably the one I need to have, anyway.

Enjoy this week’s roundup of recipes, which I’m excited about (I unintentionally selected a lot of golden-hued food!), and the reads.

Recipes

How pretty is this Chiogga and golden beet salad with grapefruit? I love the harissa tahini drizzle and garnish of fresh herbs.

A bright and refreshing meal for these dark winter months: Brianna’s crispy tofu tacos with cilantro avocado pesto & chipotle mango salsa.

If you’re craving something a little more warming and seasonal, take a peek at Deryn’s awesome vegan chickpea quinoa stew, which is loaded with veggies, Indian spices, and coconut milk.

Ilene is the Queen of beautiful, colorful, and creative vegan sammies! I’ve been eyeing all of the offerings in her lovely new cookbook, but right now what I really want is a giant bite of her balsamic sweet potato grilled cheese. Yum.

Golden lattes are everywhere lately, but this is the first golden latte-inspired cupcake I’ve seen, and it’s a beauty. Leave it to the ever-whimsical and innovative Hannah to create these tasty vegan treats, which also happen to be gluten-free.

Reads

1. Vegan dietitian Taylor Wolfram has a really interesting article on the gut/brain axis in the latest issue of Food & Nutrition magazine.

2. These made me smile: six fairy tales for the modern woman.

3. New York Magazine‘s The Cut interviews a psychologist to gain more insight into how we can overcome our fear of trying new things (this is a good one for me to read).

4. I’ve seen a lot of sensitive and probing articles on the grieving process since the holidays, and this one from Jane Brody—the upshot of which seems to be that there’s no “right” way to experience mourning—is a valuable addition.

5. Emilie of Emilie Eats published this post last spring, but I missed it at the time. I’m so glad to have found it now. Emilie shares what she’s gained along with pounds as a part of her recovery from disordered eating. Her reflections are honest, heartfelt, brave, and celebratory.

On that uplifting note, I’m off to work on some school related projects in time for a new week to begin. Power Plates will be published on Tuesday (!), and I plan to share a recipe from the book that afternoon. I’ll be back later in the week with a new, sweet, and seasonal breakfast/snack idea.

Till then, be well.

xo

 

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    14 Comments
  1. Your reflexions on EDs always seem to come at *just* the right time for me! Thank you, as always, for your wise words.

    A big hug and congrats on Power Plates!! I will definitely be trying your spiced citrus pecan bread some time this weekend!

  2. Sending you a big virtual hug, Gena! I’m sorry the last week has been tough for you. I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite books, Essentialism, and remembering a quote that goes something like “you can’t overestimate the unimportance of almost everything.” Ha! And such a great reminder to keep things in perspective. XO

  3. I think it can help to think of regressions as the brain’s response to stress. When it is stressed, it reverts to the path that is most familiar and most comfortable (which is usually an unhelpful thought, habit or behavior). If we could look at it as a neurological response and not a personal failure, we can approach it with curiosity instead of guilt and shame. Then it becomes part of the process instead of a fixation on what we believe the end result should look like. I’ve never heard the yoga term for it before, and it is always helpful to put words to thoughts and emotions! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Your Weekend Reading posts truly blow me away. They are so thoughtful and insightful, and as a fellow perfectionist, I resonate with your words so much. These posts are so often exactly what I need to hear on a particular weekend.

  5. As always, thank your for your honesty and vulnerability. The last two weeks have been full of therapy breakthroughs and as I integrate, I’m definitely getting caught up in, “do integration right so that you don’t have to come back here!” Which in and of itself is part of the behavior the breakthroughs are tied so yeah – cycles and meandering.

    Those fairy tales made me *swoon* so damn hard, especially that last one as I’ve been noticing more and more wrinkles pre-30 and already freaking.

    And that article about trying something new – PERFECT timing. I sat staring at blank paper for an hour yesterday, overcome by the need to do my writing homework perfectly before finally reaching out to friends for the loving reminder that I’m taking a CLASS for a reason. That feedback is a form of love, not a sign that I’m broken. That I can’t get *my story* wrong.

    Thank you, as always, my dear. And I cannot wait for the world to meet Power Plates!

    xo

  6. As sweet as those cupcakes are, you are still far sweeter, my dear. I’m truly touched by your kind words! Thank you for including me in your inspiring round up. ♥️

  7. Dear Gena,

    Congratulations on the publication of Power Plates!! So happy to hear it will officially be out in the world! And oh, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had a challenging week accepting backsliding–I would venture to say it’s going around. I love what you quoted from the yoga sutras and your own wisdom of acceptance. I needed some corroboration of that for myself this weekend, so it is much appreciated. And oh I loved all the golden food! Living under a rock as I do I had never heard of a golden latte let alone a golden latte cupcake, so I set about educating myself promptly. Got my gears going. . .golden pancakes? 🙂 Here’s to our imperfect best, one day at a time. . .xoxo

  8. This is an inspiring WR roundup (and those cupcakes!), but I have to comment to applaud this sentence, which is so true for me:

    It’s often not until you revisit old habits with fresh eyes that you’re able to truly see them for what they are, and sometimes it takes an experience of relapse to become fully committed to recovery.

    An insight worth sharing at every opportunity.

    Wishing you a good week with warmer weather.

  9. When one of your favourite bloggers mentions one of your recipes!!! Thanks so much for including it! Your site, writing and photography have always been one of my favourites and most inspiring. xo.

  10. Thank you Gena for this post. I too needed the reminder of acceptance of regression after a difficult week. Thank you for reminding.
    Kind regards Denise

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