My Year of Blogging Shamelessly: Part Six of Six
One woman’s journey from her body to her soul letting her relationship with food show the way.
The keys to healing.
Put absolute faith in the intuitive eating principles. The beauty of this approach is that it is both physical and psychological. It is most effective when you engage on both fronts. You may start with some understanding of why you eat. But that begins to look very theoretical compared to the insights that emerge when you align your eating with your hunger. I have experienced people brought to tears during mindful eating meditations that I lead. Your normal eating is like a lid on a pot. You use it to keep things down. You can guess what lies underneath. But taking the lid off, if you have the courage to, is when you really see what is going on.
Know that the reasons you eat when you’re not hungry, or don’t eat when you are, are windows into your soul. There is an elegant and impeccable logic to your eating habits. Those personal reasons need to be treated with reverence and respect. With this orientation, you seek to compassionately understand those reasons. They arose at a time when you were doing the best you could with what you had in a difficult situation. Be grateful for your survival. Now though you are in a better, more powerful position to look after yourself. When you uncover the true needs your eating masks, you are then in the position to fill them in better, more nourishing ways. You encounter your emptiness, the longings of your deepest self, and what your spirit wants to taste in this life. Your eating takes you to the sacred path of your soul work.
Consider the possibility of therapy. For myself, I have had many periods in therapy. It has been a fundamental place for me to learn trust, experience healthy relationship dynamics and untangle my story in and through the healing eyes of another. Yes, this relates to food and eating. As Geneen Roth explains for those of us who struggle here: it’s not about the weight but it’s not not about the weight. On the one hand, you need to look at the reasons for the weight’s being there (or not being there). What is weighing you down in your heart, emotions and spirit that your body simply reflects? On the other hand, you can’t discount your experience of your body either because it often conveys a message or because it is a target in a fat-phobic culture. There is so much shame for us women around eating and appearance. As Brené Brown explains in her book Daring Greatly, shame is at the core of disempowerment. To heal you need to have a safe space where there is an understanding that your relationship to food, eating and your body holds a deeper story and that story deserves to be told.
Carve out the time for regular meditation. This is something I resisted for a long time, but I now see the critical role it plays. Understanding meditation as the practice of bringing your attention back to the present instead of following your thoughts to the past (to depression) or the future (to anxiety) makes all the difference. That concentrated time “sitting” cultivates the ability to say ‘no’ to the pulls to eat when you’re not hungry. (“Oh! That looks good,” “I might never get to try this again,” or “I’ve worked hard and I deserve a treat after this long day.”) I like to say that a regular meditation practice strengthens the muscle of disengagement as well as fostering a sense of calm that you may otherwise be turning to food to get.
Become wise to the destructive workings of the superego, alternately known as the “the voice” or “inner critic.” This is the negative way you talk to yourself typically in terms of right/wrong, good/bad, should/shouldn’t. I used to believe I couldn’t make changes in my life without its harshness and hyper vigilance. I now know that real change only comes through compassion, understanding and kindness. You need to get that when the voice makes an appearance, it is usually because there is some feeling of vulnerability nearby. The criticism is your outmoded way of protecting yourself by making yourself small. Unfortunately, usually, you run from such “superego attacks” straight to food to ease the pain that always come with them.
Travel together. I have benefited greatly from having the opportunity to do this work in an engaged and supportive community. It is democratizing, normalizing and inspiring to be part of a group of like-minded women on the same path. When you explore collectively, it accelerates and elevates the process. You become each others’ teachers. You learn about yourself through the other travellers and their insights, and they from you and yours. Compassion for them becomes compassion for yourself.
In the words of Brené Brown: I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
“I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing — these coping mechanisms that you developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt — have got to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It is time to show up and be seen.”
Dare greatly, shine.