What is it about eating disorders that make us hate who we are and what we look like while inviting failure in our attempts at change? Good question and one I’m not sure I’ll ever really know the answer to.
After a lifetime of intermittent starvation, exercise bulimia, and a passion for laxatives and anything that would purge that pesky bran muffin, etc., from my system, I decided to take the inward route and follow in the footsteps of the many eating disordered women I know: delve deeper into a yoga practice. For once, I wasn’t trying to lose my imaginary weight, but rather, I wanted to heal. I decided to approach this ancient practice with a beginner’s mind, rather than the one that has been dallying in yogic practice for over a decade. I chose not to pay attention to the pretzels and skinny bits in my classes, instead, focusing my gaze on my mat. What’s happened has not only been wonderful, but healing on a deep, cellular level. Does that mean I don’t get triggered? Nope, surely not, but it does mean I view my body in a healthier way: as powerful and strong, grounded in earth and sky, and present. With each breath and asana, I move toward a healing space, recognizing my limits, discovering my strengths and meeting them both with kind awareness.
Body dysmorphia is a life-long disease. It loves to play games and trick you into thinking it’s correct in its delusions of grandeur. However, as we heal and grow in our sobriety and in our efforts to be kinder toward ourselves, our disordered perceptions of mind and body can begin to change. The beauty of a yoga practice is that it teaches us to recognize our limits, embrace our strength, all the while using the fluidity of our breath as an anchor to the present moment. It’s rather like a moving meditation, really. On the mat, I find myself forgetting how I “think” I look as I stay present and get out of the thinking mind. It makes staying present OFF the mat infinitely easier, and allows me to be kinder to myself about myself. What a wonderful gift!