Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, affect an individual's attitude and emotions when it comes to food. Starving or binging oneself can cause a person to experience physical and mental problems. Although treatment for eating disorders can be difficult, a ray of hope in the healing aspects of meditation and mindfulness has been discovered. Not only can the art of meditation help alleviate symptoms associated with healing disorders, but sometimes it can even cure them.
What is mindfulness and meditation?
Mindfulness essentially means continuing the mind and being attentive to the present. It comes from the Buddhist tradition as a spiritual aspect experienced while journeying toward enlightenment. In the Western world, mindfulness has been found to alleviate or eliminate various psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
Meditation is a practice that individuals use to train the mind and experience a heightened sense of consciousness. There are various kinds of meditation that individuals employ to come to a sense of peace and increased concentration in the present. Meditation differs from mindfulness in that it is more of a practice, whereas mindfulness is likened more to a continuous state. People generally meditate to become more mindful.
When it comes to eating disorders, the way one identifies with the mind is normally the root of the problem. The mind is always racing with thoughts and for people who struggle with eating disorders the mind races with thoughts that tell them to either starve or binge. Their thoughts about food and their bodies are often irrational or they simply struggle with intense negative emotions, such as anger, shame, fear, or depression. They use food as a tool for temporary relief of such emotions.
The thoughts can cause obsessive behavior. For example, a teen girl who wants to be very thin because she believes that people will like her better if she is super thin may develop anorexia and begin to starve herself to be skinny. Her thoughts tell her that she is not thin enough. When she looks in the mirror she continuously sees herself as being overweight. Her response is to starve herself. Food, or the avoidance of food, becomes her obsession and her sense of self-worth.
The practice of mindfulness and meditation will allow those suffering with eating disorders to take control over their thoughts and experience less obsessiveness. Specialized meditation can help conquer the urges to binge, purge and starve, as various researchers have demonstrated that meditation can be the most powerful means of producing changes in the body and the mind.
Separation from the mind and ego
Mindfulness will allow an individual to become separate from the mind and the ego so that identification with those negative thoughts can be cut off. Thoughts about food, negative emotions, stress, and so on will begin to dwindle and float away as one becomes more mindful of their true spiritual self. At the same time a sense of peace and relaxation will begin to occur as the art of meditation and mindfulness increase.
It may take time to learn the art of meditation, but that is alright. If you take time daily to practice, you will find that week by week your meditation time will become longer and you will be able to notice your thought life and even physical body changing little by little. If you do not know how to meditate, take some time to read about it or get a mentor to help you out in this area. There are many different kinds of meditation so explore various ways and see what it is you like best.
Eating disorders can be helped by practicing the art of meditation and becoming more mindful. There is no need to continue to suffer from an eating disorder. Take some time to begin your journey of meditation today, even if it is just for a few moments.