Throughout my years of clinical practice I have witnessed a strong connection between self-compassion and healing from eating disorders and body-image struggles. So when I had a chance to engage in my own research interest during my doctoral studies I chose to research self-compassion in the recovery process. That was five years ago, but no surprise, there is now more and more in the literature that supports what I found through my own research study and have anecdotally known throughout the years.Continue reading
Staying Amidst Changing
August 30th welcomed in the Black Moon. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know much about this. Instead I rely on my fellow moon-following yogi’s to teach me. One of the things I learned was that it is a great time to make changes and set goals. My first reaction to this was resistance. What if I just don’t want any more change, any more effort? What if I just want things to remain steady for a while? It reminded me of many years ago when I first started my yoga practice in a more serious way.
I had just given birth to my twin boys, 21 years ago. After their birth I became pretty ill with Grave’s disease an auto-immune disease that really does a number on you, especially with two preemie newborns! Long story short because yoga had always calmed me in the past, I found my way into a yoga class where the teacher happened to teach the same sequence over and over again. There was no variation, no change to the poses, class after class. As boring as this may sound, I found great solace in that silly sequence. I felt I could rest into the moment. I felt capable in my body. I felt strong again. I felt grounded. I also recognized that it was a break from the reality of life, which isconstant change. Not having to think about what my body was doing or not doing, I was able to rest and soften around all the changes happening around me and to me. After some time I noticed I focused less on my body’s struggles and more on its capabilities. I also started to care more about what was happening in my mind. I noticed the distractions. I noticed the fear. I noticed the obsessive thoughts. I also noticed something spectacular when I left. Where my body’s struggles were still there, my mind was in a different place.
I still had all the same medical struggles but my mind was no longer obsessed on them. I learned that underneath what seemed to be the same and unchanging, was actually where the greatest change was taking place. So now when I feel that resistance to more goal-setting, more change, I remind myself that it’s really okay to stay for a while. It’s okay to go back to some of my routines that provide me with this sense of sameness and safety. It’s all okay as I know that it’s just a little cushion of cover for the constant change that is still taking place underneath. I have learned to trust that change will happen when we are least focused on it.
I tell my clients this often when it comes to the biggest challenges in recovery. After all, recovery work takes effort and change. Change to habits, change to your body and most importantly, change to your mind-set. It also requires a fine balance of effort and staying at the same time to be aware of this mind-set. I invite you to explore the following embodied practice next time you need a break from the change and to feel as if things are just staying for a while.
Compassionately Closing In And Staying
1) Sit on the ground, close your eyes and take a few release breaths
2) Call to mind an image when you hear the words comfort, soothing and calming. Now notice where you feel the words in your body? What does it feel like? What is the felt sense of these words?
3) Allow yourself to gently move to these words and create some kind of posture or gesture that represents the feeling of comfort, soothing and calming. Maybe that’s a hand to your heart; maybe it’s folding over in a child’s pose; maybe it’s curling up on the ground. Whatever feels like you could stay and rest in.
4) Allow yourself to stay for a while. Repeat this embodied reminder of “staying and sameness” whenever you feel the constant change gets too much. Trust that as you give yourself time to stay that change will unfold.
Read more in Befriending Your Body: A Self-Compassionate Approach to Freeing Yourself From Disordered Eating. Now available on Audio Book!