"Health of body and mind is a great blessing,
if we can bear it."
~John Henry Cardinal Newman
I recently started leading yoga therapy groups at an intensive eating disorder recovery center in North County San Diego. This morning, while doing my practice on the sand by the ocean, the sun shining upon me, I realized that things have come full circle.
When I was in my Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for eating disorder therapy, the woman who led our process and yoga groups was my absolute favorite. Alison emanated loving nurturing energy and spoke from experience for she had also recovered from her own battle with an eating disorder. As the youngest of our therapy leaders and a woman, she was the most relatable to me and everyone loved her most. We each yearned for any one-on-one time possible.
One evening during treatment, I waited for everyone else to file out of the room. I felt I needed and wanted just a few extra minutes with Alison. During our brief chat, Alison reached her hand out to touch my arm and said, "Judy, you're one of the special ones."
I carried that statement with me throughout the rest of my therapy program. Her observation was what the little overachieving girl within me wanted, but she was seeing more than the "A+" for effort I was putting forth. Alison was looking to the light that I still held within, though at this point, it had dimmed into darkness throughout years of battling with bingeing, purging, and pain.
The first time I heard Marianne Williamson's quote about Our Greatest Fear, it sent shivers throughout my entire body. I felt like her words encapsulated everything I had believed about me from birth, but which my home environment tried it's best to disprove.
Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
Now, through my own efforts and that of the Universe, I've been invited to become the yoga teacher and group leader for various groups in an IOP eating disorder therapy program that closely resembles the one I attended in Los Angeles. Suddenly, I've stepped into Alison's role.
I never thought, while struggling through many days and nights of shame, guilt and suffering, that I would ever get to a point where this would no longer be my reality. There was no way I could've envisioned one day becoming the type of person I so looked up to, resembling the woman who gave me faith and lifted my chin to see a star that my heart could hook hope onto, hopes that I would one day stop hurting myself the way I was compulsively doing relentlessly, day in and day out.
But here I am, sharing from my experiences and learnings, working with everyone from teenage girls to adults who are in a similar place to where I've been. I have an opportunity to inspire the belief that everything can indeed get better and that it will continue to do so.
My path has come full circle or, what I'd like to believe, a complete spiral that continues to evolve onwards and upwards. Thank you, Universe.