Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak. – Rumi
The physical body is not to blame for illness. Our bodies do their very best to maintain a perfect balance to support life. Honoring and trusting the body is an essential step to heal from eating disorders and related struggles. Our bodies are reflections of our minds. Our attempts to care for our physical bodies are affected by the thoughts that flow through our minds.
Thoughts create our behaviors and shape our reality. Where our attention goes, energy flows, and the situation grows.
If we believe we can arrive at a healthy place where our weight is restored and our multidimensional lives glow with vitality, our bodies will begin to reflect our beliefs. On the other hand, if we believe there is something wrong with us and sickness is inevitable, our bodies will reflect this limiting belief system.
Most of the time, we do not know what is to blame for our disease or illness. With regards to eating disorders, I would not be the first to say: “It’s not about the food!” Focusing on food and body alone addresses the symptoms, but not the source. We must look at life from many different angles to access the roots of our struggles. During struggles with food, our negative self-talk, the diet mentality, monkey-mind, and learned helplessness (feeling like we don’t have a choice about the things we do) create unhealthy behaviors. Stinkin’ thinkin’ translates into social isolation, unhealthy exercise habits, restriction, overeating, and/or binge eating.
Our habits are generated by our state of consciousness. And our consciousness affects our biology. In other words, psychology and spirituality affect biology. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are have tremendous power. Our stories reflect our belief systems and these thought patterns manifest in behaviors that affect our physical bodies.
I like to picture our thoughts as little records that are turning in our mind. They often repeat themselves and play out the stories of our lives. Our stories influence and shape our reality. If we identify with our illness, we impose limits on our lives and the illness will easily take over. Learning to create a healthy ego identity that is balanced by a connection with our soul selves invites forth a life full of spectacular health and wonderment. When we are healthy, we have different records that play out the stories of our friendships, families, love relationships, work, exercise, nutritional needs, and sense of divinity. When we are healthy, we bear witness to our stories without judgement. We begin to arrive in the present moment. The stories we share begin to reflect the present reality, creating inner peace.
When illness takes over our minds and our bodies, we often begin to identify with the story of one record that crowds out all of the others, creating a diminished worldview. Like a tall weed, the dominating story begins to alter the balance in life. For example, if we have an eating disorder, the record that reveals the story of our disordered relationship to food begins to dominate the mind, which result in all of the records of the mind telling different versions of the same story rooted in the following ideas: I am not good enough; I am unworthy of love; I need to fix and change myself to be worthy of life itself; I will fix and change myself by changing the size of my body. The story of the disorder becomes the main lens in which we digest everything in life. The disordered thought patterns create disordered behaviors. And the combination of thought patterns and behaviors shifts the biology of the physical body, reflecting and reinforcing the struggle.
To heal, we can practice mindfulness and develop witness consciousness. We must find a way of re-balancing the records in the mind to reflect our multidimensional lives. And we must find a way of quieting all of the records, allowing inner peace to emerge. To develop witness consciousness, we can begin to observe our thoughts and feel our feelings, without identifying with them. Entering the present moment with awareness, we can focus our minds, witness our stories without judgment, and eventually choose to let go of old stories that no longer serve us. We can replace old stories with affirmations, shifting our perception.
As we practice mindfulness and meditation, we begin to access the space within our beings where all the records slow their spinning or perhaps even stop spinning.
When we are in a state of meditation, inner peace emerges. When we are meditating, we are already healthy. With awareness that we are not the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, a tremendous amount of space is opened up inside of us. A sense of inner peace and clarity emerges that is connected to our inner wisdom. And when we are connected to our inner teachers, we make choices rooted in our soul-self. We become gardeners in our own life, consciously picking and choosing which seeds we will tend to, creating beautiful gardens of awakening.
Healing and recovery is a process of waking up to the moment, paying attention and making conscious choices rooted in soul.
Step-by-step, moment-by-moment, we return to the practice of being here now. We make positive choices in the present moment and we witness ourselves without judgment when we come across bumps in the road. We accept ourselves as we are, breathe into discomfort, reach out to connect, and love with fearless determination to rise up and recover.