Health Update + Reflections
Challenges I’ve faced with the transition away from identifying with veganism
Positive experiences/growth since the transition
General reflections that have been very healing
So, in today’s post I am going to be sharing some of my thoughts, rambles, experiences, growths, reflections, insights and challenges from the last few weeks and months – particularly as it pertains to my transition away from identifying with veganism.
SHARING THIS JOURNEY
I’ve learnt so much, grown so much, been challenged a lot, had major emotional rollercoaster vibes: extreme highs of feeling immense freedom and joy of life, of living and of feeling a deep sense of having gone beyond the limitations of my mental rule books and of the re-emergence of my physical health. And then I have also felt extreme lows where the self-critical voice of judgment and criticism have screamed loudly and made me doubt every decision I have made thus far.
I want to share this with you all because I want to show how intricate, deep and penetrating this process has been: how it has unshackled and shaken me in ways I didn’t know were possible and how I have reconciled and navigated these difficult and tender moments in my life. I know many of you are going through similar challenges, and so my hope is that sharing what has helped me, challenged me and been illuminating for me in this process will give you some peace of mind + heart.
WHERE TO EVEN START?
HEALING OF BODY:
First of all, I will start by saying this journey/transition has been a very liberating and healing one. How has it been healing? Well first of all it has helped me immensely in healing myself physically:
I have put on some needed weight (not much but at least a little! It’s a good start!)
My skin is healthier than it’s been in ages (psoriasis which is an inflammatory illness and which was going absolutely hay-wire last year with the emergence of my SIBO) and
Most importantly, my digestive issues have just about healed (I would say I have healed my SIBO about 80-85%%).
So, on a very basic physical level I am doing so much better. I think the combination of 1) eating more cooked foods and less fibre 2) introducing small amounts of animal proteins and fats 3) eating more Vata-balancing and grounding foods has helped me immensely. I think overall, moving away from a strictly low-fat or restrictive diet has helped more than I can put into words. Now, beyond the physical, this transition has offered me a lot too. And I would like to go into more detail of these deeply internal processes below.
HEALING OF SOUL:
One of the biggest things this transition made me acutely aware of was the places and things in my life where I was using external things or beliefs to bolster my sense of who I am in the world. I became very aware of the line between eating healthily to genuinely just feel my best, and eating healthily because I was following a mental rule book of prescriptive ways of understanding health. A mental manual of perfectionism, if you will. A more socially acceptable way of controlling, of being addicted to mental models and structures to pacify that addictive tendency in a more “positive way”.
Ticking off all of the things my mind perceived as being the “bench marks” for me doing enough to avoid too much criticism from myself or others - but by the simple act of adhering to that rule book, the controlling self became stronger and stronger, and more dependent on things outside of the true Self to give me a sense of self. So, in a very big way this transition has challenged every single part of my constructed sense of myself: my beliefs, my ideologies, my philosophies, my values, my very sense of who I am, my ego, my mind and has brought me to my VERY CORE. My essential energy. My very essence of who I truly am beyond the mind. Beyond my beliefs. Beyond my actions, beyond any external factors. This has been the deepest place of touching freedom in my heart, mind and Soul.
On a less esoteric note, this transition has also really played a big role in me establishing a deep sense of “food freedom” which is something I have never consciously had. It has allowed me to move beyond seeing certain foods as “good” and “bad” and as a result has been extremely healing for my addictive patterns and eating disordered distortions of reality. So, mentally, it has been very healing in that regard. It has also shown me the places where even deeper healing is possible from and for my addictive patterns. It has done so by showing me the functions they served, why they came about, why I held onto them for so long and how they often acted as a controlled container so that I had some sense of being safe in the world: even if through destructive and dysfunctional means. Now that I have broken down that container, it has meant that I have had moments where my mind has gone, “WHAT THE F***. What can I hold onto now? What can I use to make me feel in control? What can I do to to make myself suffer? What can I do to make myself experience some degree of pain or control so that I can justify giving myself love and care? Or what can I now use as a doorway to healing?”. In those moments, there has been a big VOID of what my eating disorder or other negative internal narratives or restrictive (even if under the name of a “good cause” like veganism) patterns would have filled. In those moments of my mind tweaking out, I try to come back to the reminder that that is simply my ego that has now been stripped of all the things it previously identified with, and that beyond the freaking out is a deep well of peace, spaciousness and LIBERATION beyond the mind, beyond the ego, and that is the true seat of Self.
But, having said that it has also come with many moments of facing deep critical narratives within my psyche – narratives and unconscious belief patterns (which are now conscious – thank goodness!) that have been very sharp, rigid and judgmental. Moments of deep sadness at eating animal products again. Moments of feeling anxious, doubtful and heartbroken. Moments where I have thought, “well I guess I have nothing more of value to share with the world” or moments where I have felt like I have completely failed the Earth, the animals and humanity. However, I come back to the understanding that I have had to attend to the needs of my body and my unique Soul journey first in order to give back fully and that has meant I needed to make these changes.
I have noticed however, that when I am in a place of loving kindness and peace within myself these narratives are calmed. When I am in a truly compassionate space towards myself and therefore by extension, to others, that perfectionist voice of criticism is quelled and my life moves with ease and grace.
It is when my mind is busy and when it is identifying with certain ideologies and conditioned patterns of perceiving myself, my life, my beliefs, my choices and my innate goodness through a lens of judgment that things become hard. I feel like this is something we have all experienced to one degree or another. But, this transition away from something that I so intimately tied my whole sense of self to because I truly do believe in the cause so deeply.
This experience, served me a major wake-up call to the deep inner work that I am doing and still need to do in order to recognise my own innate goodness and make contact with my deepest root energy/essence beyond my ideals, beliefs and identifications with certain actions or ways of being in the world. This is a good thing. But, when I am caught up in the frenzy of my mind in unconscious moments, that voice can turn sour and brutalising very fast. And then it always comes back to the lesson of: TRUST. Learning to trust my journey more fully, surrender deeper, soften more and love truer.
What has been hard is feeling the complete disjunction between my core beliefs of compassion, cruelty-free living, the energy of food and how food has an effect on our own energy body and what I have had to change recently in my life in order to bring deep mental, physical and consciousness healing (i.e. not being vegan anymore). These two seemingly contrasting ways of being in the world have been difficult to negotiate. But, I am realising more and more that they are not mutually exclusive. You can bring forward the principles and philosophies of veganism (compassion, love, healing, cruelty-free living, etc.) in many ways and if your unique disposition of health and healing is requiring of you to take a different path for now, you, and ONLY YOU, know what is true and right for you in this moment.
One thing that has been very true for me is this: you can only meet others, to the degree that you have met yourself. And THIS meeting of yourself looks different to everyone.
If you haven’t met yourself with the deepest sense of unconditional compassion and love, and listened to what your unique healing journey is asking of you right now, then you will not be able to bring forward the fullness of your heart extension, compassion and gifts to those around you.
But, if you can soften to your edges and become receptive to the lessons embedded in every experience of your life, you will always come back to alignment and to your lived truth. If you can really connect to the deepest source of compassion and love for yourself - even when, or ESPECIALLY when - there is this discord, this chaos, this contrast and this seeming “messiness” in your internal and external life, this is it. This is gift that unconditional love and unconditional compassion offers.
This experience has offered me a very unique opportunity to truly see with clear vision the places where I was using the ethics and morals of an amazing movement and cause (the animals + health) to uphold my negative addictive patterns that are rooted in a deep seated perfectionism and need for control in all areas of my life and that by restricting what foods I could eat and “could not” I was strengthening these patterns within myself. Now, this is not at all to say that veganism itself is a super restrictive lifestyle; it can be very abundant and non-restrictive. But, with the emotional and psychological baggage of my history it was a very restrictive lifestyle. Initially, it was a very freeing lifestyle and helped me immensely with cultivating a positive relationship to food and myself (but always within a framework of control). Over the last two years though, I can see now in hindsight that I was outgrowing this framework of control and my Soul longed for freedom of choice.
AS A RESULT: I have come to the big realisation that even once I have healed my stomach fully, I will not ever go back to identifying with veganism. I will always uphold the principles of veganism that I hold dear and near to my heart, but I will never confine my existence to a label. The very nature of labels - or even philosophies and ideologies that one might resonate deeply with - is that they make us challenge and doubt our own agency as autonomous beings in the world. And with that, the third chakra, the place of personal power, agency and identify are brought out of balance. At least this is true for me. I am a being. I am not a label. I am a formless expression of the Universal energy that is everything and so I will live and embody that freedom fully. I am part of all. I will always try my utmost to uphold the values I care about most, but, without the need to add a label to those actions or energetic intentions.
It also taught me the places where I had been judgmental and dogmatic. In learning how to cultivate deep compassion for myself through challenging moments of the seeming disjuncture, I have realised what TRUE unconditional love and compassion is (from myself, to myself and from those around me - friends and family). Before this experience, my perspectives and emotional experiences were conditional. They were rigid. They were limited. My capacity for deep and true heart expansion was limited because I equated goodness with good action. However, this experience taught me to go beyond my ego and see the innate goodness and energetic light within each individual. It taught me to regard people, and myself, with higher value on a basic core level. It taught me how to get off my moral high horse and to recognise that we are all doing the best we can in any given moment given the awareness, understanding and knowledge available to us. And that our healing journeys are all so vast and varied and that what has worked for one person might not be what works for another because we all have completely different psychological, social, physical and karmic backgrounds. Therefore, our Soul journeys will all demand very different things from us in this moment and that it is our job, our RESPONSIBILITY as human beings to be lead through life by listening and not by being lead by mental rulebooks that we construct for ourselves. It taught me how to hold space for all experience.
Healing is never linear and you simply cannot ever compare your healing journey to someone else’s’. Why? Everyone is coming to this lived moment with a completely idiosyncratic set of experiences, emotional/psychological, physical and energetic dispositions and the resulting needs that those experiences need to bring healing are vast and varied. The best thing you will EVER do, the best thing you will ever do to serve yourself and by extension, humanity, is to listen to your own deep internal guiding compass that is your intuition. It is hard these days to do that with so much external fluff clouding our perceptions and understandings of what health, balance and healing is and what it supposedly “should” look like. But in truth, you are the only person who will ever know the truth of your healing journey.
PLANTS AND HEALING
I believe so much in the power of plants to heal and deeply nourish us. But I do not believe they are the only way of being healthy. I also do not believe that you need animal products to be healthy. As mentioned above, there are so many ways of coming to, and understanding health as it is in your body-mind. It is not about dogma. It is not about following what has worked for others. It is about trying various things and seeing how your unique mind-body respond to them. It is about refining your capacity to truly listen to yourself. And to hold the process of listening to yourself with your desires to live a fully conscious, ethical and moral life for the sake of the planet, the animals and yourself – but without the dogma or identification or restriction.
PRACTISING WHAT YOU PREACH
After years of teaching about the Energy of Food, but not fully living or embodying my teachings myself it was time to experience something that dramatically taught me to practice what I preach. This experience, made me fully live what I teach. So now, I work with the Energy of Food on a daily basis. I no longer eat what I think I should eat in order to be healthy but instead, I work with what is true to me in the moment and what will bring me back to my highest state of energetic and physical balance, harmony and vitality. This is a lengthy process and one that I actively engage with daily in order to support the expression of my fullest potential. This information is what I give talks and workshops on. I also consult people one-on-one in order to empower people to live life in a way that acknowledges all of the subtle energies and how to work with them. I cannot wait to share more about this with you all in the future.
I so hope that this post gives you some more insight into some of the deep processes I have been going through with this transition and that if any of you are going through something similar, you can relate and find some solace in knowing that often it is through the most challenging of times and experiences that our Soul expands the most - especially if we remain open and receptive to the lessons embedded within each lived moment. There are always lessons to open ourselves up to if we have the courage and integrity to go to those places within ourselves. Life and its’ lessons are there to guide us in the ways we need to be guided. It’s all a deep lesson of TRUST. Letting go all of the ways we try to control. Healing deep wounds and coming into a fuller and more dynamic expression of our own fullness. Remember, life is happening for you and through you. It is not happening to you - which I know is hard to remember when you are in the throws of illness, pain, grief or other difficult times.
But just TRUST.