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There are some people who eat an orange but don’t really eat it. They eat their sorrow, fear, anger, past, and future. They are not really present, with body and mind united.
Thich Naht Hanh
 
 
Mindfulness, as I described in the prior post, can be applied to eating and for some this can be in a life-saving kind of way.  Those that suffer from body dysmorphia and issues such as overeating, bulimia, and anorexia have trouble with self-love that is so intense, intimate, and palpable that it invades them from every angle both inside and outside of their physical beings.  I have heard people with disordered eating describe a feeling of being detached from their bodies, disconnected from their physical and emotional selves, and a genuine viewpoint of food as “the enemy”. 
 
 
This kind of disordered eating and contorted life view goes beyond just the everyday guilt over indulging in too much chocolate or sigh of remorse when reading a scale that reveals two more pounds in our weight.  Eating when tied with eating disorders becomes inextricably linked with emotion–eating for pain, eating to hide pain, stretching the body’s physical limitations for survival to a masochistic extent becomes more than a preoccupation and turns into a life-threatening compulsion.
 
 
The problem with eating when it is tied to emotions, much like any addictive behavior, is that the satisfaction found in food is only temporary and the pseudo-healing only superficial.  After deprivation, purging, or over-consumption a person is left not only with the original pains below the surface but also new pangs of guilt and shame.  It becomes a vicious cycle and obliterates any chance at eating for enjoyment or looking at food as other than a substance to be despised and obsessed over.
 
 
So, as it seems I always find, a discussion about food leads back to issues of trauma, issues of the mind/body connection, and a desperate need for a present-centered perspective on life.  To be present in the moment means, at least for one second, to force oneself to shed the pain of the past and focus on where the pain is in the present.  In focusing on pain and it’s origins in the present moment there is a way to find the root of unhealthy habits, behaviors and compulsions.  If we can focus on how food is making us feel in the moment, as we eat it, there is a way to break that cycle of pain and betrayal within ourselves and with our relationship with food and find what the real pain is below the surface. 
 
 
Mindfulness, breathwork, and a yogic mindset bring a body/mind connection into work with disordered eating and with any person who might find food or other addictive behaviors as a mask they use to hide from themselves and their inner pain.  Through this practice mindfulness and mind/body attunement becomes a gateway to learning the self better.  I had a client tell me that she yearned to be a yogi for years of addiction because of the freedom it seemed to hold but after achieving a yogic life she still found an inability to connect with it in  a soulful way.  Sometimes we have to start with baby steps, the yoga breath, the quiet mind, the present moment and one day at a time to get to a place where a yogic mindset can be fully appreciated. 
 
 
Whether we are dealing with traumas, addiction, or just emotional pain of any kind there is a struggle to find inner peace and sometimes a feeling of ambiguity in how to get there.  Sometimes it begins with small steps of self acceptance, self-reflection, and an ability to eat an orange for the sweetness of its juicy flesh and not for fear, anger, sadness, or any other emotional cause. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
May 2020
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