The path of recovery asks us to become aware of our internal experience; our thoughts, our beliefs, our emotions and how these inform our actions, behaviours and relationships.
Mindfulness can help us with this process. It’s a skill that so many of us possess but often don’t use as much as we should. But, through practice, we can learn to tune into our inner state during difficult moments, when thoughts or feelings are awoken in the midst of challenge.
The act of being mindful helps us tune into the world around us, including sights, smells, tastes and other sensations (such as when we eat our food), and observe our emotions without judgment.
What is mindfulness?
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.
So, what does mindfulness offer in recovery?
Mindfulness skills provide the groundwork for emotional regulation and provides us with an opportunity to experience emotions as fleeting, rather than stuck or needing a response through the use of eating disorder behaviours.
This can be incredibly useful if we are presented with a situation that may be challenging, and where we may feel the impulse to turn to negative or harmful behaviours, e.g. restricting our food intake or purging.
Practicing mindfulness allows us create a distance between the experience and our response to it, giving us space to remember our goals for recovery, and to make a mental note of what awakens us for future reference and planning.
By observing our experience, we calm the impulse to “do something” with overwhelming emotions. Eating disorders serve to suppress overwhelming feelings and it can be incredibly hard to contemplate giving up something that alleviates this – however maladaptive it may be.
A mindful takeaway…
Here’s something to implement into your day-to-day, before the day has already begun.
- Upon waking up, sit or lay in your bed and bring your awareness to your body. Close your eyes and connect with these sensations. Think about relaxing into them
- Take long, deep breaths, preferably breathing out longer on the exhale. Notice how your body moves with the breath…when breathing in, direct the breath into your belly rather than your chest
- Pause and ask “what’s my intention for today?” whilst taking note of how you are feeling in your body. How can your intention mirror the needs of your mind and body?
“Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.” – Rumi