Sunday, January 26, 2014

When you are Born Broken: My Eight Stage Yogic Journey from Eating Disorder to Self-Love

When you are Born Broken:
My Eight Stage Yogic Journey from Eating Disorder to Self-Love
 By Catherine Cook-Cottone
This is the story of my Eight Stage Yogic Journey. It was a complicated, non-linear passage that started with being born broken. It is the story of a journey through eating disorder, discontentment, hatred, and yoga, eventually landing in what I can only describe as self-love.
You see I was born broken. At least that is the way I saw things when I was little. There was no other way to explain it. I think it was midway through first grade when I realized I did not look like I was supposed to— like a prima ballerina. This was unfortunate because all I wanted, with my whole heart, was to be a prima ballerina. Yet, the sad truth is that I was pigeon toed, apple-shaped (according to my mom’s Family Circle magazine), and had extremely tight hamstrings. I was also granted thin, straggly hair, sensitive skin, and apart from a short stint on swim team, average (or worse) athletic ability.
What do you do when you are born broken like this? This is what I did.
Stage One: The Abandoned Body
In first grade, Mrs. Story our teacher let us write our own play. I, of course, wrote myself in as a ballerina. Me and another aspiring dancer choreographed our own 90-second sequence that Mrs. Story artfully wove into our classroom presentation. My mom sewed the two of us the most beautiful tutus with big satin sashes that tied in the back. I put mine on and looked in the mirror. I sucked my round belly in as tight as I could. I squeezed my legs in. I tried to stand taller. There was no fixing it.

I got through the play. I decided that even though I was not as beautiful as a ballerina, I could be an actress and I would act so much like a prima ballerina that the crowd, the 17 other first graders, would buy it. It was all good until I saw the photos of me and my skinny, perfect, ballerina friend standing right next to each other. Yeah, I was broken and she wasn’t. I hated that photo.
My age 6 decision was that if I could not have the body that I should have, I must abandon it. From that point on, I did not like my body for a long, long, long time. I didn’t want to look at it, think about it, or spend any time with it.
Like anyone who has abandoned their body, my sense of self was my thoughts. My thinking-self reined supreme. I thought therefore I was. Sadly, there was a flaw in my plan. It turns out you can’t simply abandon your body. We are stuck with these bodies, the very ones we were given at birth, even the broken ones. No trade ins, no givebacks, and no upgrades. This is it. You, me, we are stuck with it.
Stage Two: Monitor, Judge, and Control
Realizing this, my body became something to be regulated and controlled. I would think things like, “God, I could have fun if it wasn’t for this stupid body.” I shifted from ignoring my body to a constant state of judgment. Day after day, year after year, I monitored my body. I told it what to do, how to behave, and demanded that it be quiet. I asked my body to please not embarrass me in front of my friends. Monitoring and controlling a broken body took a lot of energy.
Stage Three: Conflict
My parents were supportive of a healthy and active lifestyle. Just like parents who try to get their kids to play nice with each other, my parents seemed convinced that I could have a healthy relationship with my body. I played soccer, swam, took dance lessons- even Hawaiian dance. Unfortunately, my body and mind could not work together to make these things happen in any sort of a healthy way. The activities were experienced as a constant irritation and nearly always resulted in disappointment. In this way, me and my body were like siblings unable to get it together to make our parents an anniversary card. You know, all fighting and no card. In my mind's eye, this was always my broken body’s fault.
Stage Four: Taking Inventory and Settling in to Self-hate
The years of ignoring, judging, and fighting with my body were adding up. At this point, the disappointment in my body was not only constant it was deep and multifaceted. In fact, I was now older and cognitively developed enough to keep an inventory of all the ways in which my body was broken.
I was a flincher. I theorized that were essentially two types of people in the world: (a) those who flinched during dodge ball and (b) those who did not. Intellectually, I wanted to be brave and stand tall, but physiologically, I flinched. True for soccer too. Check. Yes, I was a flincher.
I was not flexible. I recall the swim coach guiding our stretch sequence on the pool deck. His calm voice floated over the swimmers with legs stretched in front of them, chins to their knees and fingers to their toes. They were at home in their bodies. For me it was different. His voice taunted me. I was hunched over my thighs, hands extending to just below my knees, breath short and thoughts intolerant, wanting to beat my hamstrings into submission or escape from this ridiculous activity. There was no peace or release to be found there, just more proof of my brokenness. Check. I was inflexible.
I was apple-shaped. My body never looked right. That is what the diagram in my mom’s Family Circle magazine told me in 1972. If you are apple-shaped you should select waist minimizing clothes, vertical lines, and A-lines.  I thought all of this through carefully and often. My mother gently guided me away from bikinis and tube tops and toward more coverage. It was best that way. It was hard on me. It was the 1970s and bikinis and tube tops were the rage. I was broken, so they were not for me. Check. I was apple-shaped.
I wanted too much. My body was always wanting. My appetite was another part of my body that was wrong. I remember eating ice cream with my brothers and sisters, they seemed to be done when they were done and I was still craving more. I was full, sure. But I still wanted more ice cream. The other stuff about how broken I was sucked. But this, this I hated. I whole-heartedly hated the wanting-more-than-everyone-else part of me. It was like my gas gage was broken. And when I had a bad day or things were hard at school, that broken part of me gained strength, an undeniable strength. I would sneak food, eat bowls of cereal and bags of carrots, trying to quiet the cravings. I remember being in elementary school waking up with mini food hangovers. I would be swollen and nauseous. My shorts would be hard to snap. I hated my craving, hung-over, broken self. Check. I wanted too much.
Teen years were no kinder. I not only gained the extra female puberty pounds but my face broke out too. From the front of the room, my biology teacher told me I had a spot of pizza sauce on my face that I should wipe off. “No,” I explained, “It is not pizza. I have a skin condition. Thanks though.” Luckily only half the class was paying attention. Check. My skin was broken too.
Inventory complete. I now officially hated my broken self.
Stage Five: Eating Disorder
I recall the day I had enough. I was done.  I was done with my body, the emotions, and the inventory of problems. It was the summer before my freshman year of high school. We were at our house on the lake. We were swimming. My sister, being a kid, told me that the inner tube kept flipping because I was too fat. “Hold on tighter Cathy! It wouldn’t flip if you weren’t so fat.”
“You know,” I said, “you are right.” At that moment, something in my brain clicked.

Svenaeus (2013) Stated, "Most narratives of anorexia seem to start with a scenario in which a young girl suddenly understands by way of comments or behaviors of others that she is too fat" (p. 85). 
Now, I had been on diets before. My mom and I went on one together when I was in eighth grade. It did not work. I had outsmarted that one by drinking whole milk as my beverage for every meal and snack. “This time,” I told my broken self “things are going to be different!”
My broken body was in for some trouble. My mind is sharp and focused, always has been. I had always done well in school. My mother would tell people, “When she puts her mind to something, she can do anything.” She was right. I made a firm commitment to 1,200 calories a day and stuck with it. Summer passed and school started. I had lost 20 or more pounds. I kept on track. If 1,200 calories worked, I bet I would make even better gains with 1,000 calories. Wait. If 1,000 calories worked, I could make even better gains with 900 calories, and so on and so on.
By the time winter rolled around, I was dangerously thin. I would not be flipping any inner tubes now (yay!). I was ecstatic. I had, day after day, beaten my body and my appetites into submission using sheer will and strength of mind. Maybe I wasn’t broken. Maybe I was fine all along. I just needed this military level control. I thought that I was winning.
Except, like any relationship, when one side wins-- the relationship loses. Years later, I ran across some of the notes I kept at that time. One day I had eaten a peach and a half-cup of cheerios and was upset about my indulgences. Several horrible and painful years followed. Individual therapy, family therapy, doctors' appointments, and a lot of fighting with myself and my parents. Psychologists call this being in conflict. I was still broken and now I had a name for it: Anorexia Nervosa. My new conceptualization of broken was sick. I was sick.
Stage Six: Fake Recovery or Co-existence
Throughout my college years, I made it to some sort of purgatory of partial recovery. My coping involved a steady cycle with periods obsessive studying and stints of excessive partying with my friends. I didn’t think much about being broken or sick. During this period, I thought about the parties. I worked in restaurants and bars. This became my identity. I was fun now. I was quirky, smart, and fun.
There was no true connection with my body. The mind and body parts of me had made some sort of peace agreement- an unhealthy, unfair sort of treaty. We made an agreement to co-exist so long as we didn’t bother each other. My eating disorder symptoms would wane in and out and I relied on an intense pendulum swinging of studying and partying to help me cope. When I think back to this period of my life, I feel mostly anxiety and a bit sad.
Throughout all of this time, I had a deep longing to be what I conceptualized as “better.” My path would, not surprisingly, be intellectual. I got my bachelors degree, then my masters and eventually my Ph.D. I got my license as a psychologist. I became a professor and researcher in the area of eating disorders. Sadly, no matter how much I researched, no matter how much I achieved, I felt stuck. I still felt sick. I still felt broken.
You see recovery is not just about stopping behavior. It was like when I was six years old and acted like a prima ballerina but didn’t embody the dance. I was acting recovered. Yet, my recovery was not embodied.  My mind and body were not integrated. I had no sense of my physical self. I was not, what I now consider, fully recovered.
It was like this. My mind and body co-existed like those couples who stay together, maybe for the kids, but not because they love each other. They live in the same house and sleep in separate rooms. That was me. My mind was the self-righteous one and my broken, sick body would sneak off, get home late, and eat the rest of the ice cream. My body would be sorry and then train for a marathon as penance. Underneath the apparent recovery, there was a slow aching resentment. My broken and sick body was forced into compliance and my mind was exhausted.
Stage Seven: Discontent, Wanting Something Better
During this time I married a loving and supportive man, Jerry, and I got pregnant. I wanted more than anything to show my developing daughter that a woman could be okay with her body, maybe even love her body. Being pregnant was hard. It intensified the battle for me. I could not ignore my body. In fact, I had to take good care of it. This was bigger than me. I was taking care of someone else in my belly. I craved foods like I did when I was a little girl and my body felt out of control. Once again, my body was a sign of my weaknesses, my needy, wanting and broken self. And I was not going near an inner tube. No, I was not.
There was no way to co-exist. I had to work this out. I wanted to be better. I wanted something better.
Stage Eight: Yoga as a Pathway to Self-Love
Hope came from an unlikely place. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I was early in my career as a professor. One of my students was a yoga teacher in training. She invited me to take one of her yoga classes. She said that my ideas, theories, and approaches were very aligned with yoga. I explained to her about my broken body, thinking maybe she had not noticed what I was dealing with. I demonstrated my forward fold (as seen at swim team practice). I explained that yoga was not for me. She disagreed. She said anyone could do yoga. I said that “Maybe. Maybe, I will come to your class.”
A year later, my husband and I registered for her Yoga I class at the Himalayan Institute in Buffalo, New York. We started out in Corpse Pose. “Morbid,” I thought. I now see this as perfect. Death and rebirth- start in corpse- perfect. We placed one hand on our navels and one hand on our hearts. She showed us how to breathe. For those of you who were born yogis this might sound ridiculous, but these breaths were miraculous to me. I wanted to cry, but my mind judged myself about that and stopped it immediately. After class, I was, well, a few things.
I declared to all who would listen, “This is the best I have felt without a few glasses of red wine in years, perhaps ever.” And I felt successful, “I can do yoga!”  
For the last decade and a half, my body and my mind have gotten to know each other. It was in that first yoga class my mind took a good look at my body in a new way and said, “Maybe you are not broken or sick,” and my body was relieved. At this point, I have researched eating disorders and yoga for many years. More importantly, I do yoga. I practice nearly every day. I also teach yoga. I want as many people as possible to feel like I feel when I do yoga. I can only imagine that these transformations will make the world a much happier place.
So, here I am in the self-love. When I do yoga, I put one hand on my heart and one on my belly and I say to my body, “I love you.” The best part is that I mean it. My body has stuck with me through all of the stuff I did to it. It stayed with me through self-hate, the ignoring, and self-destruction. My body rallied during my pregnancies.
My body was never broken.
I think now how strong it is. I am so lucky to have a body that could take all that I did to it and not break. I thank God for this body. Not too many bodies could have made it through the beating I put mine through. My body is gifted, strong, resilient, and so very beautiful. Like a beautiful old maple with its scars, wrinkles, and wounds, it has endured strong and firm through all of the weathers of my life.
I look back now on the photo my mom took of me in my satin sashed tutu. I love that little girl and that beautiful body. I now see a little yogi in the very beginnings of her journey. I don’t see the broken anymore. I see what was possible.
If you look, you can see it too. 
The Yoga Bag


Svenaeus, F. (2013). Anorexia Nervosa and the Body Uncanny: A Phenomenological Approach. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, 20, 81-91. 

What is Embodied Self-Regulation? It is Changing Yourself One Embodied Moment at at Time- OUT HERE

Embodied Self-Regulation- 
Catherine Cook-Cottone, Ph.D., R.Y.T.
Embodied Self-regulation is choosing who you are and your relationship with your world-- one embodied moment at a time. 
In Baptiste Yoga this is called being OUT HERE- not in your head thinking about what you might do (IN HERE) or like a leaf blowing abound in the wind of what other people are doing and the circumstances of your life (OUT THERE)- not those things. 
Out here- is you in action making your life happen. It is the integration of who you are (thoughts feelings, and body) and the circumstances and people in your life (family, community, culture). OUT HERE- Is integration. 
Out here, or embodied self-regulation, is the heart of my research at the University at Buffalo. Below I explain my model. Each piece of research I do has this as context. I was so thrilled at Level III training when Baron Baptiste detailed research and theory so consistent with what I have been working on for years. 
I believe that truth is there for truth seekers and as we seek we will all find it. And sometimes, when you meet another truth seeker- you see that you have both found something pretty spectacular- The Truth. 
Here it is: Embodied Self-Regulation
Catherine's wellness research focuses on the exploration and validation of the Attunement Model of Wellness and Embodied Self-Regulation (see Figure 1 below). The self is viewed as an integration of thoughts, emotions, and physiological needs within the context of the external ecologies of family, community and culture. A healthy self develops when an individual embodies practices that promote health and growth and the external ecologies are attuned with and support these practices (or the individual has learned tools to self-regulate despite external ecologies).
Citation for the model: Cook-Cottone, C. P. (2006). The attuned representation model for the primary prevention of eating disorders: An overview for school psychologists. Psychology In The Schools, 43(2), 223-230.
The model is well explicated in three places (1) Cook-Cottone (2006), "The attuned representation model for the primary prevention of eating disorders: An overview for school psychologists," published in Psychology in the Schools (PITS), (2) Healthy Eating in Schools: Evidenced Based Strategies to Help Kids Thrive Buy on Amazon Here, and (3) Girls Growing in Wellness and Balance: Yoga and Life Skills to Empower Buy on Amazon Here.

The Attunement Model of Wellness and Embodied Self-Regulation is an interactive model of two systems: the self system and the cultural system (see Figure 1).
The self system is made up of three potentially integrated and transactive components that co-evolve throughout an individual’s development: (a) the physiological self (i.e., body), (b) emotional self (i.e., feeling), and (c) cognitive self (i.e., thinking). The self system is an internal system experienced by the individual as his or her Real Self.
The external system is modeled after Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model (1979) and is also made up of three potentially integrated and transactional systems: (a) the microsystem (e.g., family), (b) exosystem (e.g., community), and (c) the macrosystem (e.g., culture).
The two systems are interconnected by a process: attunement. Based on Siegel’s (1999) theoretical work, attunement is defined as a reciprocal process of mutual influence and coregulation. Internal system (i.e., Real Self) and external system attunement is facilitated by the Representational Self. The Representational Self is the constructed self that is presented to the external system. It is the way individuals engage with their environment; how they interact with their families, people at their schools, and individuals in their communities.” (Cook-Cottone, 2006, PITS).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Don’t tell me I am Too Sensitive when you are Drunk or Half Gone on Non-prescribed Pain Killers

Don’t tell me I am Too Sensitive
when you are Drunk or Half Gone on Non-prescribed Painkillers

Seems like it is hard to find people who are willing to be present, people who are not taking something or distracted by some behavioral addiction or compulsion. Further, there is seemingly little pressure for people to be sober and present. Some days it feels like it is a culturally sanctioned activity to be half in the bag or checked out.

Please note, I acknowledge that many people are legitimately taking medications for genuine medical reasons—I am not talking about that. I also know that there are individuals who are really struggling with their eating disorders, shopping addictions, and gambling problems (and other behavioral addictions) and want out- I know this. I am not talking about this either.

I am talking about the epidemic of people not soberly present in their lives. AND- then the underlying message that people who are present and actually feeling their feelings are too sensitive, moody, over reacting, over the top, too passionate, or maybe even crazy.

I especially struggle when I spend time with people that I know they are on non-prescribed drugs (including overuse of alcohol and other recreational drugs with the intention to not be present), manifesting the day-to-day artificially, chemically induced, happiness with the pretense that if you are having a normal challenging reaction to something horrible in the world, or fatigue from actually being present on a full-time basis—that there is something wrong with you (yeah- super long run-on sentence, I know- it had to be that way).

There is some pretty serious stuff going on in this world. A lot of it with scientific explanations and complications that make it difficult for anyone who is not a specialist in a particular field to sort out (e.g., genetically modified foods, climate change, waste management, mass production of non-recyclable goods, nuclear energy, etc..). Other social, political, and economic science concerns that can be as difficult to intellectually negotiate as the scientific questions (e.g., income inequality, poverty, unemployment, underemployment, gun regulation, taxes, education, drug rehabilitation, health care, etc..). It is very overwhelming. I want to do, and vote for, the right thing, the best thing, in all cases. To be honest, even with all of the education I have accrued and all of the reading and trying to know that I do, I don’t fully understand what would be best.

Then there is my own life. It is like yours. I have family, friends, work, and community—I have those relationships and the associated challenges and gifts, all of wonderful and horrible things going on. Trust me, I get why people want to be drugged out, drunk, or distracted by a compulsion, an eating disorder, a shopping problem, or a gambling addiction.  It seems easier that way (in many respects). It seems easier to just numb out a bit.  Once numbed out, I could just take on a belief, an opinion, and stop all of the figuring it out. I could be numb and righteous about it all. I get that. It’s seductive.

I am torn.
Like Carl Jung says-
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Carl Jung (Read more at
My struggle today is letting people be on their own path of growth- yes- but- then- struggling to negotiate day-to-day activities with people who are checked out and simultaneously, actively judging others. See? Is it okay to judge people for judging you? Cause if you are trying not to judge, it is obviously wrong and so people who judge are wrong, right? And that is my struggle.

When we struggle, righteousness is super, super seductive Watch this—

There are costs to this checking out.

Costs of Substance Abuse (NIH,
Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting over $600 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare.**

Health Care
$96 billion
$193 billion
$30 billion
$235 billion
Illicit Drugs
$11 billion
$193 billion

Still, it does not serve me or anyone else to be righteous and judgmental.

As Carl Jung said
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.” Carl Jung (Read more at

Thing is, I have this fire in my heart to change things.

I worry that it is circular. We become disingenuous and checked out because of the hypocrisy and dogma-- and then lost, we become part of it. We have now become part of the toxic system, setting up the next soul for struggle.

I see the consequences in my work with my patients and in my family members and friends who are struggling. I SEE THIS IN MY OWN STRUGGLES.  There is a substantial portion of the human race that finds hypocrisy toxic to their souls. Maybe it is all of the human race. Ultimately, many forms of disorder may be a dysfunctional form of self-protection. You see, the lies, the secrets, the horrible discrepancies that arise when there is addiction or abuse in a family or culture--  they hurt. Even the unspoken—they hurt. They have energy and that energy does not resonate with health, well-being, or thriving. In an effort toward self-preservation, people feel that all that they can do is check out. At least they won’t feel this pain anymore.

And so the cycle goes.

Once you have checked out, you do not want to be confronted with, or conflicted about, your own hypocrisy or disingenuous behavior. NO! YOU DO NOT!

So, then, unknowingly, a sober, present, functioning person comes a long- ugh- how annoying is that?

It’s back to the good old cognitive dissonance. We don’t like to feel challenges in our beliefs or actions. We like it all to line up neatly, all of the time. In fact, when we engage in behavior that may not be healthy for us, we create a whole line of reasoning to justify it. Some people call this rationalizing. We make it okay. “I am checked out because I am a relaxed person. People need to relax now and again. The world is too painful. I need this to cope, etc. etc..” We have a whole lines of reasoning. In the alcoholic world there is a great line, “Poor me. Poor me. Pour me a drink.”

And so this sober, present, want-to-make-a-difference person comes along and we do not want to hear it because deep down, we want that. We want to be be present, engaged, and making difference. But, sh&%- it sucks to have that right in my face when I am half checked out and have a million good reason for being this way. And so- you know what? It is way easier for me to make you bad than for me to look at my own stuff and so- W say to ourselves- that person is too sensitive, they worry to much, they try too hard, they this and they that...... And so we get to the title of my blog today--

Don’t tell me I am Too Sensitive
when you are Drunk or Half Gone on Non-prescribed, Pain Killers

Do you know what happens? Do you know what happens when the sober sensitive, staying-in-the-game people get knocked down, ignored, and criticized by the other checked-out (yet ultimately, good, sensitive, wanting-to-make-a-difference-but-got-too-overwhelmed-at-some-point people)- they are at-risk for struggle.

I see it like that move THE BLOB- the 1958 film about this big mass taking over a town ( The checked-outs suck in the sober-still-trying’s- until we all are part of the checked-out blob not doing anything about all of that important stuff I listed above.

It scares the crap out of me (so did that movie when I was little).

Zuri’s Story

Zuri is scared. She is at her Aunt’s Jasmine’s, both she and Rashan. Eric is missing again. She wonders if she should call it “missing” anymore- really what is “missing"? Because what really goes down is that he isn’t really missing anymore- despite his promises- he is never home. If Zuri is really honest- Eric visits home now. So, he is not missing- he lives somewhere else, who knows where, but not at their house and he visits now and again. It is great when he visits. It is great when he protects her. It is great when he is sober and make promises. Still, Zuri sees Eric becoming a lot more like her mom that anything else.

Ahhhh, if she really thinks about it, it is almost like her mom visits too.

Eric and her mom live in a land outside of normal consciousness. They drop in and find the land of sobriety a bit too harsh for their senses and then they leave again, back to alcohol, back to drugs, back to painkillers, and back to the place where their problems include paying for the next high. It gets simple like that.

(If you ever wondered about what the inner workings of an addicts mind are like read- Goldfinch [] or any of these books listed on Goodreads (

Zuri got really scared this morning. Her Aunt Jasmine has all of her cancer drugs on the table. When Jasmine was making breakfast, Zuri looked over the bottles. She found it: Hydrocodone, ugh. Zuri felt as if she might even hate drugs at this point. Her aunt was humming an old church song while making pancakes. At that moment, Zuri figured out the sick feeling that had been rumbling around in her belly since she got there. Aunt Jasmine was on them too. When you are the child of an addict, you feel it in your core when someone is not present. You just know.

Zuri felt tears stream down her face. She wiped them away as quickly as they came down. She knew Jasmine was super sick and in a lot of pain since her surgery. She knew this and she did not want her aunt to be in pain. She also knew that Jasmine had herself and Rashan to worry about. Jasmine also had all of the worries about Sherece, Zuri's mom. She knew these worries were bringing Jasmine down. She knew that Jasmine had to go to court for them. She knew what Jasmine was going to have to go against her sister. All of this Jasmine had to do while she was in treatment for cancer. Yeah, Jasmine was on painkillers too.

Zuri felt like these drugs were taking over her whole world. They were slowly sucking everyone, even the safest people, in. She started to feel like she could not breathe. Jasmine’s humming was not good to hear. It was like hearing a dissonant note on the piano. It was oddly disturbing- the seemingly happy humming, chemically induced okayness slathered over a big, gigantic pile of physical and mental pain. Zuri squeezed her hands on her head. She couldn’t take it. She shoved her chair back and ran upstairs. Jasmine and Rashan looked at each other. Rashan was lost. Jasmine confused. Jasmine turned of the stove and, tired, walked upstairs.

Zuri couldn’t talk to her. She couldn’t say a world. Jasmine pushed and Zuri lied, “I am just sad about my mom.”

Zuri lied.

Jasmine is doing her best to cope. She is so very sick and now she has the children to figure out. She is as worried about Eric and Sherece as Zuri is. And  Zuri—Zuri breaks her heart. Jasmine didn’t mean to take the extra painkillers this morning. It was just that she was so tired. And she figured later, she would skip a dose and make up for it. She knew that Zuri knew. When Zuri lied, Jasmine let her. Jasmine felt it deep in her belly- the dissonance.

She went downstairs and dumped all of the painkillers. They were gone and with them the lies.

The process

I am not sure if Jasmine did the right thing or not. I don’t know the pain she is in and I don’t know if she will be okay. This is a conversation for her and her doctor. That is what I can say for sure. If you get a sense that you are checking out- using the drugs to help you deal with things instead of you actually dealing with things- that is when you need to stop- do what you need to do. Painkillers are for physical pain- not stress.

The cycle of checking out and rationalizing and not being present is epidemic. It can only change one present soul at a time. You see in Zuri’s Story and in our own lives there is a constant pressure to lie, to check out, and to become part of the problem, THE BLOB OF UNCONSCIOUS EXISTENCE (yeah, it still scares me).

This blog is an invitation to come OUT HERE to the place where we can make a difference- to sober, presence.

It can be really fun out here. No hangovers, fewer regrets (it is not perfect out here- lots of room for mistakes- still- trust me there are fewer), and out here has many better mornings. It is good. With all of your extra energy saved from not fighting the exposure to neurotoxins and opiates, you can actually do stuff that might change the world- and we need YOU.

So come out here, play, work, and be of power.

Challenge your cognitive dissonance. Let yourself be challenged and don’t bring down the sober, hard-trying soul that is trying to get you off your As$ and into the game.

This is a request out of love for you, for this earth, and all of the stuff we need to do right now. I need you. Zuri needs you. The world needs you.

This is The Yoga Bag blog- yes it is- so……guess what is a great way to handle your stress without checking out- yep- yoga and meditation.

See you in class!



References and Notes

Cognitive Dissonance (

Question: What Is Cognitive Dissonance?
People tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions. So what happens when one of our beliefs conflicts with another previously held belief? The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.
How exactly does cognitive dissonance work and how does it influence how we think and behave?
Psychologist Leon Festinger proposed a theory of cognitive dissonance centered how people try to reach internal consistency. He suggested that people have an inner need to ensure that our beliefs and behaviors are consistent. Inconsistent or conflicting beliefs leads to disharmony, which people strive to avoid.
In his book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Festinger explained, "Cognitive dissonance can be seen as an antecedent condition which leads to activity oriented toward dissonance reduction just as hunger leads toward activity oriented toward hunger reduction. It is a very different motivation from what psychologists are used to dealing with but, as we shall see, nonetheless powerful."
The amount of dissonance people experience can depend on a few different factors, including how highly we value a particular belief and degree to which our beliefs are inconsistent.