Throughout the month of May we’re reflecting on the use of mindfulness as a tool for eating disorder recovery. Here are 3 ways we use mindfulness in treatment.
Mindfulness is a state of awareness, where you observe what you are thinking and feeling without judgement.
The practice brings you into the present, whilst the non-judgemental approach helps you to accept the thoughts and emotions that you witness arising within you.
Mindfulness helps clients to connect to the here and now by drawing attention to their inner experience.
When practising mindfulness, we may notice that in the midst of difficult thoughts or feelings we may feel an urge to ‘fix’ the difficult thought/feeling, which can lead to an action. This impulse to act may be a symptom of the eating disorder, for instance, feeling an urge to restrict our food or purge in response to overwhelm.
Recognising our inner experience helps develop a personal wisdom that becomes our guide in recovery. By practising mindfulness, we can simply observe that “urge” without acting.
Here are 3 ways we use mindfulness at Orri
1) Yoga and body-based approaches
People with eating disorders can struggle to connect with their bodies in the present. At Orri, we create a safe space for our clients to find and nurture that re-connection once more.
Our body-based approaches provide an opportunity for emotional self-regulation through the unification of the mind and body. Specifically in yoga sessions, our clients are given an opportunity to connect to the body through movement and breath.
2) Mindful eating and post-meal processing
Mealtimes at Orri are social, mindful spaces. Clients are invited to connect to their inner experience when eating in this setting whilst leaning into the support of our specialist clinicians during any moments of overwhelm.
After every meal, we carve out a space for post-meal processing. Here, clients are invited to share their experience of the meal – emotionally and physically – so that they can receive the support they need for the day or evening ahead.
We recommend journalling as an activity for clients to explore in the breaks between sessions, or in the evenings when they finish treatment.
This mindful activity helps clients to decipher and process their inner experience.
As Nikki, Orri’s Creative Arts Therapist, said in a recent blog about journaling:
“I often hear our clients say things like, ‘I’m really in my own head’, ‘I don’t really know how I’m feeling’ and ‘I’ve just got so many thoughts’.
Finding a starting place to begin to unravel these can feel understandably overwhelming, yet there is something powerful in the physical act of ‘showing up’, pen in hand and getting some of those thoughts OUT of our heads and ONTO the page.
We can begin to slowly untangle the web, to get enough distance from the thoughts that we can observe and bear witness to them in the hope that maybe, by the end of the page, we might have a clearer sense of how the answer the question, ‘how am I feeling?’.