Self Love

Does This Gauze in My Face Make Me Look Fat? (AKA: How I Learned to Meditate)

December 29, 2014

Last year, I came down with seven sinus infections in a row. If you know anything about sinus infections, you know two things: 1) it’s an illness that literally makes you feel like a prisoner inside your own skull, and 2) they take about three to four weeks to go away. So essentially, I was miserably sick for an entire year. I consulted with every medical professional from my internist to an allergist to a Chinese medicine doctor to an acupuncturist back to my internist and finally to an ENT. I was put on every prescription in the book. NOTHING worked. It was time for surgery.


Post-surgery, once my doc had straightened my septum, removed my inflamed turbinates (the folds of skin on each side of your nose) and opened the passages to my four frontal maxillary and ancillary sinus cavities…my first question for him was:

“How soon can I workout?”

You see, I have had what I call “body noise” most of my adult life. Much of it stems from my days as a professional actress, when every extra pound, every blemish, every dark root on my blond head was scrutinized. When it comes to one’s proverbial “baggage,” the issue of my weight is my theoretical two-ton duffle bag. It’s gotten MUCH better over the years, but it’s still a work in progress.

“Two weeks,” my doctor advised.

So what did me and my two-ton duffle bag do? We waited 10 days then took two days of hot yoga in a row. Yes, while the surgical gauze was still in my face.

Saturday, I went to Bikram.

Sunday, I went to Core Power.

And Monday, I wanted to die.

I had every intention of going back to the office that Monday. It had been close to two-weeks post-surgery and my mind was ready to start my entrepreneurial hustle again, but my body could barely move. I even called my boyfriend up at work, whining for sympathy, mad at the world that I STILL felt like such shit.

He would have none of it.

“You didn’t listen to your doctor, Jess,” he said. “What did you expect? Sorry, I don’t feel sorry for you.”


I had no choice but to stay home and try to get any work done that I could. I started mining through my emails, flipping back and forth between Gmail and Facebook, when I saw on my feed a link to a video on Gabrielle Bernstein’s TedTalk. I had heard of this Gabrielle through my yoga teacher, but hadn’t looked further. Perhaps it was the familiarity of her name that compelled me to click on that link that day, but I now know it was something much more significant than that.

The video was 16 minutes long. My immediate thought was: “Fuck this. It’s Monday, I have work to do. I don’t have time to watch 16 minutes of ANYTHING.” But just as I was about to I close my Firefox window, I literally heard a tiny voice whisper: “You really should watch this.”

And so I did.

I learned that Gabby, a recovering alcoholic, food addict, love addict and drug addict, had healed her life and redirected her life through her spirituality, and that meditation had been her most essential tool.

I went to her website and signed up for her newsletter. I went to Amazon and bought all of her books. I went to iTunes and downloaded all of her meditations CDs.

I guess you can call me an extremist.

Then another awesome, totally magical thing happened. That tiny voice started talking to me again! This time, she told me I should go outside and get some fresh air. So I walked myself to the park around the corner from my apartment and found a grassy knoll…yes, literally, a grassy fucking knoll.

I sat down. I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath in through my nose, and breathed out through my mouth. I soaked in the silence and tuned out the world. I heard that voice again, but this time it wasn’t so tiny. It was actually quite powerful. Strong, but kind. Loving, but serious.

“It’s okay to stop and give yourself a break, Jess,” my inner voice said. “It’s really ok. I promise.”

I continued to listen.

The words began to make my body feel something so glorious and yet so simple: it was the sensation of being kind and gentle… on myself.

Like WHOA.

From the moment I graduated college and had to go out and “make something of my life,” all the way up to that very instant on that grassy knoll on that sunny day in May, I had NEVER given myself a moment to simply stop and listen to what I truly needed.

And what I needed was not a yoga class to help keep those last five pounds off. Those five pounds don’t define me. What I needed was to learn to love myself, just as I am. And the only way I can do that is to honor myself, just as I am. And you can’t honor yourself if you’re pushing and punishing yourself all the time. What I needed was to stop, breathe and take it easy for once. I needed to meditate. Meditation has now become my gateway to my incredible inner-voice and that sweet peace-of-mind I’ve waited my whole life to find. It’s my way to Simply Be.

And I’m perfectly cool with the fact that a series of sinus infections, a little bit of gauze, a harsh reality check from my boyfriend, and a TedTalk helped me find it.

In fact, I am more than cool with it.

As Gabby would say…I am divinely grateful.

Where in YOUR life could you be a little gentler on yourself?

Have you ever felt like you reached a breaking point?

What steps did you (or could you) take to change your current way of Being?

Let me know in the comments and I’ll respond to every one of them…

With MASSIVE peace,


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  • bell

    Dear Jessica, I love this blog. I am especially thinking
    about this question “What steps did you (or could you) take to change your
    current way of Being?” emphasis on “could you” because I haven’t been
    able to change one very important thing in my life, and that it is affecting my
    whole day every day. That very important thing is: I must stop going to bed
    late (and I mean very late). I have tried setting up an alarm at 10pm to start
    getting ready and then go to bed at 10:30, but I just turn off the alarm and
    keep working or cleaning or doing pending paper work, answering emails, etc.
    Then I must get up at 6am the next day and of course I’m exhausted, then I come
    home from work and I don’t go to the gym because I’m tired. I haven’t set up
    the alarm in a long time so I am going to start tonight again, and I won’t just
    turn it off and keep staying up, I will turn it off, and go to bed at 10:30pm.
    Any suggestions to help me change this bad pattern will be appreciated.

    Thank you for your blog. Every week I look forward to your

    Love, Blanca.

    • Blanca- you are SO welcome. I am so touched by this feedback. Thank you. It seems like your 10pm alarm to stop working and go to bed has become a “rule” vs. a “ritual.” Rules feel restrictive and we are always tempted to break them. Rituals, however, can feel very nurturing, gentle and loving. Instead of forcing a rule upon yourself to go to bed at 10pm only to avoid it by working more, answering emails, etc, create a ritual. Distract yourself with things that feel really good and joyful. Take a bath, read a great book, call up a good friend, clear the clutter from your desk, put on some beautiful music, light some candles. You can “busy yourself” with things that don’t feel so punishing, or things that won’t make you feel guilty for not going to bed. If you’re up for it….try meditating. Just sitting with your eyes closed for a few minutes, going within and following your breath can do wonders and create wonderful results. And…it might even help you sleep. I hope this helps. XO

      • bell

        This absolutely helps! I haven’t thought about it this way…. nurture and love myself by doing things that make me happy instead of punishment. I can’t thank you enough. It is now 10:20pm he he…. I’m starting my ritual right now. No more going to bed late.
        Have a good night and sweet dreams :o) BIG hug.

  • Renee Raville

    I really needed to hear this right now with the holidays just finishing and all the stress from that. It amazed me when I learned the different ways to meditate – i.e. sitting still, movement meditations, etc. There is not a one size fits all way to meditate. I appreciate that and the regular reminders to make meditation one of my regular practices. Currently I practice qi gong as a way to help me meditate. I love it. It also fits with my study of Chinese medicine.

    • I have heard amazing things about Qi Gong! I have tried all different kinds of meditation and the most effective for me is guided meditation, or chanting. It really makes all the difference right?