Yes, Meditation Can Help Your Eating Disorder Recovery
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.” (Steve Jobs)
Pay attention to the word Steve Jobs used above to describe the growth of intuition as a result of practicing meditation: Blossom. Eating disorders unfortunately have the opposite impact. They shut down this expansion of awareness and creativity in the world and your own life. They make it hard, if not impossible, to distinguish the truest sense of who you are and what you want from the mandates of the eating disorder. Meditation can relieve you of those limits by helping you bypass the overpowering thoughts of the eating disorder and make room for your own voice. What parts of your life and soul are waiting to blossom? What might you hear in greater stillness? Meditation is a scientifically based tool which can serve anyone reaching for deeper understanding and for expanding in recovery.
While you might initially dismiss meditation as a new fad, in reality that is quite far from the truth. Archaeologists have found wall art depicting meditation that dates back to 5000-3500 BCE. Across centuries and throughout cultures and religions, meditation is viewed as a cornerstone of spiritual development. (2) The great news is you don’t have to practice any specific form of meditation to enjoy the benefits; there are secular and religious practices to choose from. Whether you decide on Transcendental Meditation (™) like The Beatles and David Lynch, Primordial Sound Meditation (PMS) like Deepak Chopra and Lady Gaga, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) like Jon Kabat-Zinn, or Zen Meditation (Zazen) like the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere–if you make a sustained effort, this habit can be a significant contributor to your mental, spiritual, and physical health. (3)
Meditating reduces the stress and anxiety that can lead to and perpetuate destructive eating disorder behaviors. “Science hasn’t yet connected the dots between what happens in the meditating brain…but a University of Wisconsin study saw increased electrical activity in regions of the left frontal lobe, an area that tends to be more active in optimistic people, after eight weeks of training in meditation” (4). As a psychologist and daily meditator, I have witnessed the calm, self-compassion, and creativity that can be cultivated through the practice of meditation. The results over time enable you to increase the pause between a trigger and an action–to truly choose whether to act or not–and to enhance self-acceptance while reducing emotional reactivity and relentless self-criticism. (5)
The mind–cluttered by the noise, distractions, and rules of the world–can be easily hijacked by an eating disorder. Meditation allows you to tune into your soulful, deepest voice that endures beneath the eating disorder. Through this, you can overcome the illness from a deeply-rooted sensibility based in your true self. You know this voice already. This true voice of yours has already led you. Think back to all of the times you have… known known right from wrong, seen and taken opportunities for connections, stayed open to learn and grow, and found strength to rise above obstacles. If you add meditation to your recovery toolkit, you establish a daily time and space dedicated to noticing and expanding your unique strengths, values, and dreams.
The blueprint to your recovery is already inside you; learn to tap into it. When you practice meditation you will allow the subtleties of your own voice and the life you want to live to rise above the darkness of the eating disorder and enter into the light. (6)
- Isaacson, 2011; “Steve Jobs”
- Puff, 2013; Psychology Today
- Lechner, 2016; Chopra.com
- Kuchinkas, 2016; webmed.com
- Gleissner, 2016; Psychology Today
- Marson, 2017; PsychologistSecrets.com