I asked Amy, a fellow yoga teacher and remarkable photographer to take pictures of me in yoga poses sans clothing for three reasons:
1. I thought it would be liberating (it was)
2. I’ve worked hard to come to terms with my body.
3. I want to start a conversation.
The conversation? Inner dialogue.
Our inner dialogue is the sum total of our beliefs and thoughts. It’s the language we use with ourselves. Sometimes, it's the dialogue we don’t want anyone to find out about. Ever.
I’ve degraded, injured, starved, intoxicated, used and dishonored by body for years through the dialogue I had with myself.
“You don’t look like her,” said the voice in third grade when the skinny blonde ran across the playground. I was a chubby brunette. Shy. “You’re not cool like her.”
I grew up and fell in love with soccer. It made my body feel strong and purposeful. When many knee surgeries took me out of the game, the depreciative voices grew louder. “Your body is useless. You have nothing to offer anymore. No one likes you. You're not pretty enough. Oh, and you're not smart either.”
I kept feeding this dialogue and eventually had to shut it up, so I took charge by starving myself and binging/vomiting. The control and emotional release actually worked- for a second. I didn’t know these behaviors would flame the fire of my voices, and therefore, my actions.
More! Drinking and blacking out.
More! Drugs and overdose.
More! I’ll do anything to escape until it kills me.
Thankfully, it didn’t kill me. It hurt me and everyone in my path, but the vicious voices were tamed. I attribute a legal detox and firm, loving parents throwing me back into a treatment center. I attribute a twelve-step organization. I attribute yoga and breath. I attribute divine intervention. I attribute that one voice I’d be hushing that said, “Enough.”
I’ve heard many psychologically and medically sound reasons as to what was wrong with me and many solutions and self-help phrases to get me well. Nothing stuck until I had one moment when I took a deep breath and the chatter died down just a little bit for me to hear, “Enough.”
So what’s this writing about? It’s about choosing the voice that we listen to. I tell my students that our words become our lives, so I work to choose my words wisely.
One of my most beloved mentors calls the destructive inner dialogue “Leroy.” She tells me to say, “Fuck off Leroy!” when that voice tunes up. Trust me friends, saying this is a very spiritual response.
I still have to re-choose my thoughts everyday. Thankfully, I have many tools. One monumental tool is yoga. On my mat, I am able to create space for choice through breath and asana.
My gratitude is for everyone and everything that’s helped quiet my dialogue. My gratitude is in being able to finally hear, “Enough.”
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”