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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. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

1  …My husband’s move to Florida. 

Dog care and maintainance issues aside, I miss him.  I miss shared dinners after a long day of work, I miss taking the dogs out or exploring something new.  I miss watching a movie side-by-side either inside in the warmth and on a couch or shivering amid chilly theatre air.  I am excited to explore Florida together and create new memories under palms and sun.  I am hoping to find time to take a short trip to Marco Island which sounds like a lovely place and I have been hearing great things about it as a place to take a quick reprieve–from what I’m not sure, we do live in Florida, but I would love to explore.

 

 

 Horse and Fog by Claudio Ar

2  …The NARHA 2009 Conference! 

I am beginning an amazing new adventure involving complimentary therapies and horses and I am so excited.  One of the fantastic new avenues that has opened up due to postponing the yoga teacher training by two months is giving me the time to go to a three-day conference for specialized training in the area of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy.  I will be beginning my first pilot program in late November and am so excited for where this new path will lead and how I can cross and blend multiple holistic approaches.  I may be incorporating some seated yoga on horseback during programming!  I am very excited about all these prospects.  If only I had a charitable financier to help afford all this here learnin’.  For now I will try to make it work any way I can because I know, somehow and in some deep place, that this new equine arena of study and practice is meant to be part of  a more cohesive therapeutic whole. 

 A Young Teresa Psychotically Happy On Her Horsey

 

 

 

3  …My upcoming speaking engagement at the “Let’s Talk” Adoption Conference at Rutgers University in New Jersey on November 7th. 

I will be speaking on Trauma and Yoga for adoptees, their caregivers, and for social service agencies working with adoptees and foster children.  I am so honored and happy to bring this information on mind/body healing to a large audience of people involved in the care of children who may find such great benefit from yoga.  I have purchased, via my good ol’ pal Amazon both of the following books to put out for attendees to flip through:  Babar’s Yoga For Elephants and My Daddy Is A Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids.

 

 

 Merry Christmas to All my Flickr Friends by duane schoon on flickr

4  …Christmas in Florida. 

My lovely sister will be coming to visit and so I cannot wait to show her my new home state and enjoy the Holiday Season sans dirty soot colored snow.  New memories, new visual delights, and a reason to decorate my home thematically and “hang stockings with care”–just for a moment though because I have a feeling in a three dog household they will be dismantled and removed with very little care and much expediency. 

 

5  …My first wedding anniversary this New Year’s Eve. 

 

6  …Beginning my yoga teacher training program.

Hopefully, I will have cultivated some added manner and method of contemplative practice, meditative mind, and calmed spirit before I even walk through the door on the ever-nerve-wracking First Day of School.  I have, in the spirit of that effort, gone my first week without any television whatsoever.  Now this used to be, once upon a twenty-year-old, a very easy endeavor but I fear I have gotten into the “plopper” practices I discussed earlier this week and have to work my way back to enjoying the silence with nothing surrounding me but the tapping rhythm of puppy nails on wood and crisp pages turning in a good book. 

 

7  …Learning how to let go. 

Let go of the illusion of controls.  Let go of the illusion of “knowing”.  And letting go the self that expects so much but explores so little of the internal space of my own inner spaces–a funny irony for a person who, as a therapist, spends my days delving into the psyches of others and encouraging their self exploration.  No more holding on and holding in–I am giving over to letting go.  Tiny step by tiny step. 

 

8  …I am looking forward to seeing where this writing exploration will lead. 

I feel that all my internal archeology both starts and ends with this writing I am doing.  I have always felt like I explored myself most honestly when I wrote.  This is first time I share that journey in an outward way.  This is the first time I take this inner archeological dig into a public forum.  I am hoping it brings a new ripened and raw dimension to the journey that both enriches my own path of discovery and helps another on their internal and external quests.

 

 

Stairway to Heaven by Lyrical Time Wastrs on flickr

 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things   that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

 

by SmallRaffaela

by SmallRaffaela

flickr photo “hide and seek” by SmallRaffaela

 

 

Good thing I believe that my body is just the fancy (or not so fancy) outer casing for much more valuable goods: my soul, heart, spirit.  If I had higher expectations for my “casing” I might be more inclined to really resent the one I got handed to me from the cosmic assembly line. 

 

Although, in truth, I have some body resentments.  Between chronic rhinitus, psoriasis, and endometriosis (all conditions correlated to immune system dysfunction) I vacilate between fevers, abdominal spasms, and scalp burning and itching; each condition exacerbaterated by the next.  Last week rhinitus was center stage and today endo has come out to play. 

 

Curled over on a bathroom floor doing my lamaze breath to placate my angry belly which writhes and stabs and contorts from the inside out I find myself swimming in my own pool of self pity–and then resenting myself for my thoughts. 

 

I can remember back in November sitting in the office of my reproductive endocrinologist with my husband and having him tell me that during my laprascopic surgery they found “Stage IV” of endometriosis invading my body. In non-medical terms “Stage IV” is pretty much an internal warzone the like of maybe the battle for Troy.  My organs were fused together and my fallopian tube was blocked shut with endometriosis, not to mention a giant cyst wedged between the carnage like a giant grenade.  I imagined something close to a Dali painting going on in between my hips; an abstract distortion of what innards should look like. 

 

He also told me that I would probably have to have the surgery again within two years, I guess something like an ovarian detailing, and that if I wanted to get pregnant, due to the damage to my fallopian tube, I was at risk for tubal pregnancy which can require pregnancy termination due to the dangerousness of the situation.  I left my appointment with photos of my internal carnage, a prescription for birth control to take daily indefinitely, and feeling completely betrayed by my body.

 

Today is one of those days I revisit that same sense of betrayal.  I have, over the years since I hit puberty,  become accustomed to days spent writhing on the bathroom floor, alternating between cursing and praying, and drowning in my own self-pity.  As I become more expert at this particular ailment I come to terms with the pain as a piece of my existence, just an element of my story that will persist at the very least until I remove all the pesky troublesome organs.  I live with it.  But the pity still creeps in from time to time. 

 

I work to live in my body, love what I have, and forgive it its flaws–and just as I do that I know I have to do the same for myself emotionally.  Forgive my moments of pitying weakness and allow myself to feel as I feel, give myself permission to be human.  

 

It is hard to have a cohesive and complimentary relationship with one’s body and one’s mind when they seem to be at odds.  When you feel that your body has betrayed you in such a core way, and as a woman in such an essential and intimate part of your anatomy, in your female center. 

 

But as I stare down at my body and run my fingers across the surgery scars that flank my navel I know that wounds, and aches, and scars, and all, I have to love my body.  Because although it is only the casing for the raw materials that define my “self” it is also a collaborative experiment, this human existence thing.   I have to work with what my body has given me and accept it’s flaws, accept my emotional moments of weakness, and be able to acknowledge my scars without hating them. 

 

I continue to struggle with this tug of war and some days I lie on the bathroom floor breathing deeply and sobbing.  But other days I don’t.  And all of that is also part of the human experiment that is my life; finding the balance and making my way through my own ebbs and flows.  And give myself permission to not be perfect and try to constantly remember not to expect the illusion of perfection that doesn’t exist for anyone anywhere anyway. 

 

“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul, and good for each is the work of the other.”

Henry David Thoreau

dream on by smallraffaela on flickr

flickr photo “dream on” by SmallRaffaela

 

 

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