I heard someone recently describe the experience of asking a professional mentor what me might do to accelerate his career. His mentor said something to the effect of “trust the process.” By this, he meant to be diligent, to work hard each day, and to have faith in the systems in place.
The person relaying this story told me how disappointed he was to get this advice. He was hoping for sexier guidance: a hot tip about a fast track he could take, a secret to getting ahead.
In entrepreneurial work, there’s often a lot of attention given to being an innovator, someone who’s not afraid to think outside the box. The invitation to trust a process, rather than to disrupt it, can feel anticlimactic.
I’m thinking about this because I’ve been at a yoga workshop with my ashtanga community this weekend. For me, the magic of ashtanga resides in placing one’s faith in a system, in being willing to work through a process before you’re able to fully understand or anticipate the benefits.
Traditionally, one moves through the ashtanga series posture by posture. It’s not until you’re able to do one posture than you proceed on to the next one.
My teachers take a more intuitive and individualized approach, allowing all of us to progress if a particular pose is either not right for our bodies or will require a lot of time and practice.
Even so, I find the notion of moving sequentially inspiring. It presupposes that, with enough practice and patience, anything is possible for anyone. Whether this is literally true or not—I’m sure there are plenty of postures I’ll never do—I love the optimism. There’s a hopefulness and sense of possibility embedded in this style of yoga.
I’ve been doing yoga for a long time, but my practice is a lot like me: often fearful and self-doubting. Ashtanga has taught me that I can surprise myself. To paraphrase my teacher, ashtanga is a place where things are impossible until the day they’re not.
Every single growth process I’ve experienced has taken the form of showing up faithfully, day by day, without any clear apprehension of an outcome.
Eating disorder recovery, working through my demons in therapy, facing my fears, developing recipes, practicing yoga—all of these things have taught me that practice and willingness are everything. The process may feel tedious and frustrating sometimes, but there’s usually more transformation happening than we realize.
Until yesterday morning, when I made my way upstate to practice yoga with my community, I was having a rotten mental health week. I felt tired and discouraged. Today, I know that this, too, is an area of my life in which anything is possible.
Not too long ago, my friend Kim directed me to this tweet, from Louise Miller. It reads:
I felt the truth of these words this weekend. I could see with perfect clarity how all of my yoga practice from the last fifteen years has served a purpose, whether I knew it in the moment or not. Every workshop, every mantra I’ve committed to memory, every breakthrough moment.
Even the teachers whose style I didn’t jive with, the classes that didn’t work for my body, the face plants and falls and injuries. All of it has taught me something. All of it has returned to me in some way or another, always with purpose.
It’s hard for me to see this pattern at work in my life off the mat. But I know it’s there. And I’ll keep showing up for it, one day at a time.
Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
This cucumber soup looks so refreshing!
Since I could live off of cucumbers at this time of year, another cucumber recipe. This time, a crisp, simple, refreshing little salad.
Tomato basil gnocchi, yum.
I’ve never tried hummus pasta, and I need to.
Finally, Izy’s flapjacks look unreal. And she has introduced me to the notion of British flapjacks (oaty squares), which are not to be confused with American flapjacks (pancakes).
1. People who live under the same roof can sometimes “catch” each other’s feelings. This article takes a quick look at “emotional contagion,” including strategies on how loved ones can empathize with each other without getting swallowed up by communicable moods and feelings.
2. How the medical community is reassessing its policies around allowing loved ones to visit those who are ill with Covid-19.
3. I’m always glad to see media calling awareness to orthorexia.
4. Via the New York Times, a new wave of therapeutic interest in headache treatment is offering some hope to those who suffer routinely.
5. A short practice for tapping into fierce self-compassion.
Have a peaceful sleep, everyone.
I might as well call this “weekend reading, express edition!” I’m buried under deadlines tonight, so this one has to be short and sweet, friends. Here are the recipes and reads that have my attention this week. My idea of heaven: Sherrie’s avocado toast with cilantro lime cashew cream. I’ve got a taco/tortilla recipe coming up this week, but in the meantime, check out these awesome lentil tacos with tomato radish salsa. Substitute cashew cream or soy yogurt for the creme fraiche in this…
I nearly broke into clapping (at home, alone) earlier this week when I read Amanda Cohen’s Women’s Health article on women and appetite. In her essay, Cohen describes a scenario I think most women can relate to: Over the years, I’ve watched hundreds of dinners from the pass, and I have a terrible confession to make: When I see two women sit down, my heart sinks a little, because of what I see happen so often. First, one of them says, “I’m starving,…
Well, hello! It’s obviously not Sunday, but this is the weekend reading post that I meant to write yesterday. Last week, after I shared my broccoli Caesar, a wise friend gave me the reminder that we’re all exhausted and emotionally pummeled by 2020. It’s important than for us to be more forgiving of ourselves than usual. I needed to hear it. I’ve been giving myself permission to work and create slowly, to spend some time away from my computer and phone. But I’ve…
My current internship rotation is a pretty big departure from the last one. It’s outpatient nutrition counseling at a community health center with multiple locations around the city; I’m splitting my time between Harlem, Chelsea, and the Bronx. The work is nearly all diabetes management, with some weight management and general nutrition guidance thrown in. The work often feels repetitive, and in some ways I miss the intensity and variety of intellectual challenges that I had working in the hospital this fall. But…
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Hi Gena! I’m happy to report that I actually received a notification for this post! Woohoo! The notification gods have smiled on us once again. Haha. Now that I’m here, though, I hope I won’t be too much of a disrupter to offer some qualifications on a couple of things. First of all, I am a HUGE adherent to trusting the process, but that usually pertains to a personal and somewhat ineffable process having to do with my creativity or reaching clarity on a decision. It also does involved some physical stuff at times like putting myself in the space and time to facilitate that. But the last bit of advice that the mentor gave your friend, to trust the systems in place, doesn’t seem especially well suited to a time in our society when systems are crashing all around us. Perhaps that is not what was meant, since your example of your yoga practice and its protocols is not the kind of thing that “crashes.” But in careers, a lot of systems crash, especially these days. A lot of the way things are usually done is not working. So to me, there has be to some hard to define combination of trusting the process and letting that include thinking of acting outside of the usual box at appropriate moments. How to know those? I guess that’s a mystery.
Secondly, and I’ve commented on this kind of article before, I was somewhat disturbed in the article about Orthorexia, again, that experts call a “lifestyle change” a code word for diet and disorder. Why, then, do we have the American College of Lifestyle Medicine? Goodness sakes. At the same time, the writer is very clearly outlining symptoms that are not necessarily a given for those of us who pursue what we eat as a lifestyle change. Yet these symptoms are rightly cause for concern and help. However they are not a given if one lives, say, a whole foods plant based “lifestyle.” Lots of people doing that are happier and healthier than they ever were. I am one of them. So once again, it’s too broad a brush for me, but I do sympathize with those for whom this becomes a kind of destructive anxiety producing obsession that negatively impacts health. But that’s not all of us. So, that’s my two cents. which may make you wish I hadn’t got a notification after all! Love you lots–xoxo And always appreciate your beautiful writing and honest take on your life.
I do apologize for my big opinionated mouth. I seem not very good at curtailing it lately. You probably see a lot more of the down side of these things than I do. xoxo