If you are suffering with an eating disorder, you might feel disembodied. Lots of people tend to be in their heads, but those who suffer with eating disorders really avoid being in their bodies and spend lots of time up in their heads. Many try and avoid the feelings that they have in their body and even avoid the fact that they have a body because it’s so fraught. My clients with eating disorders are often very intelligent, intellectual, and constantly going over things in their heads, some would say, “thinking too much.” One client reported that she feels so wrapped up in her thoughts that she believes she’s missing the world around her. She told me that people often say “hi” to her in the street or at work, and she doesn’t even notice because she’s so lost in thought– soooo in her head.
But when you’re up in your head… who’s minding the store? If you’re constantly in your head, when do you get to be in your body. Are you avoiding your body? How can you you take care of a body when you’re not present for it?
I was talking to a client who said that she didn’t want to be in her body until her body is perfect. “But your body is perfect and needs love and support now,”
“No, after I lose 50 pounds, then my body will be perfect… then I can let myself meditate, do yoga, be in my body, but I don’t want to be in my body now. Yuck.”
And that’s the irony. She believed that she couldn’t be in her body until it was perfect, but unless you loved and respected your body, at any size, then how could you treat it well? How could you nurture and treat something with respect that you avoid, neglect, and hate? You can’t change something in order to make yourself like it. You know that with people, partners, and you know that with yourself. But unlike toxic people, you can’t avoid your body. It’s there, it’s yours. It’s important to embrace it. Or just be in it, not avoid it. Your body needs to be cared for and treated with love and respect.
So here’s a little exercise for you to learn to be more in your body.
1. Take 5 minutes, close your eyes and breathe. Notice the position that you’re in. Notice your feet on the floor, the bend of your knees in the chair that you’re in, the way your head feels… really let yourself feel what it’s like to be in your body. Stretch if your body wants to stretch, bend if your body wants to bend, roll your wrists, your neck, your ankles, whatever you need…
2. Next, do a body scan– Start by noticing the bottoms of your feet and slowly make your way to the top of your head feeling into each part of your body and noticing what’s happening. Itches? Cricks? Muscle tightness? aches? soreness? tingles? See what feeling (physical) is screaming out to you, trying to get your attention, and just be with that feeling for a few moments, without judging it, without trying to change it. Name it. For instance, your nose is itching, breathe into it and say, “itchy nose.” If your shoulders are tight breathe into them saying, “tight shoulders,” and just breathe for a few moments into whatever part wants your attention.
3. Then ask your body, “what do you need?” Your body might say, “more water,” or “more kindness,” or “more vegetable,” or “more fresh air…” whatever. When you are in your body, you know exactly what you need.
When you are in your body, you are more likely to nurture and care for it rather than treat it poorly with bingeing, restricting, too much exercise, too little exercise…
Try to do this a couple of times each week and see how your view of your body changes. All bodies deserve love, no matter what.
Other ways to be in your body:
- Go for a sensory walk– touch things around you, smell the smells, notice what you see… use all five senses.
- Get a massage
- Walk up a hill or go on a hike and feel your muscles working
- Drink a glass of water and feel the water going down through your digestive tract.
- Rub lotion into your hands and feel the sensation of rubbing your hands. Use scented lotion and smell your hands.
- Smell essential oils
- Give yourself a foot rub
- Give yourself a scalp massage
- Take a bath and close your eyes and feel the warm water on your body
- Jump into cold water. Jump into hot water. Jump into cold water.
- Touch your face and feel your hands on your face, massage your jaw. Your jaw is the strongest muscle in your body. Because of that it tends to hold a lot of tension. Sometimes people binge eat to relieve that tension.
- Brush your hair.
- Jump up and down on your bed
What are some things you do to be in your body?