The practice of honesty is an important part of finding freedom from the things that are keeping us trapped. Disordered eating and eating disorders thrive off of lies. As long as we remain dishonest to the world around us and our loved ones, we are feeding our struggle. Although it takes strength and courage to stand up against the part of us that wants to be dishonest, it happens quite naturally when we uncover our true selves beneath the disorder. Finding freedom is like lifting the fog of inauthenticity and being able to see things as they truly are.
Most people feel anxious when embarking on the journey of self-discovery as they often feel that their eating disorder is part of who they are and they won't know who they are without it. But, they often discover that it is a process that brings colour into their life and a newfound meaning.
Uncovering our truth is not always an easy job, especially with the noise of the world around us. The truth of who we really are at our very core is something that fascinates me. Who would we grow up to be without the influence of the media and what would we look like if there wasn't a set beauty standard that was just decided by society? Every decade, women are being judged against the newest palatable look and it would be exhausting to try and morph our bodies into the desired shape of the year. I used to think that fitting my body into society's standards wasn't a thing for me. A long time ago, I would argue that I wasn't bothered about beauty standards and that just wanted my body to be a certain shape because I would feel better about myself, or accept myself more. The harsh truth is that we are so influenced by society that we are starting to morph our own beliefs with the beliefs of the culture around us. There was a time where we accepted ourselves before we were influenced and there will be a time again. As soon as we begin to notice diet culture, we notice that it is everywhere and how deeply affected we are without even realising.
Recovery involves honesty, peeling back the layers of denial and distorted belief, becoming aware of false perceptions, and choosing not to believe we are our old stories. This week we will come back to our truth and allow a deeper connection to ourselves and others. As you begin to nourish your truth and thus your body, you will also regain your ability to see yourself more accurately.
In yoga, the practice of honesty is called Satya. Finding ways to slow down is important in the practice of Satya. Inner growth happens from a place of peace within the body and the mind. It is important to note here that you can slow your body down and the mind can still be working at 100mph. If you normally slow down by distracting yourself with the television or Netflix, experiment with swapping this out for meditation or a Yin yoga practice. When we slow down, we wake up to our thoughts, our actions and words, and whether they are in line with our values. It is with this awareness that we can start to catch a glimpse of who we are beneath the masks we wear.
The ‘Sparks Joy’ List
Find a blank piece of paper or a journal and a cup of tea/ coffee/ hot squash.
Set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes and then put your phone in another room (close enough so you can still hear the timer, but far enough away so it doesn’t distract you).
Light a candle. This is an important one as it represents the small flame inside of you that never went out.
Start to write down all of the things that bring you joy in your life or once brought you joy. Don’t worry if it’s been a long time since you have experienced these things, just jot them down.
Here is a small example of mine:
Starry night walks with mum
The crackle of a candle wick
The smell of leek and potato soup
Breaking frozen lochs
The tiny crispy stuck potato wedges on the baking tray
When your takeaway is ‘on its way’
When you fall asleep without meaning to in the afternoon with a book in your hand
Fairy lights in Stockbridge
My new ‘sleep’ playlist
Pictures of the dog that mum and dad send on the family group chat
Daydreaming about New Zealand
Tiger bread and butter
Dancing to the Beatles on Hogmanay
Cold air outside a warm bed
Keep writing until the timer goes off. You will experience brain blocks, but it’s important to keep letting the joy tumble out even if you don’t feel joyful at the time. This is called ‘free writing’ and it accesses a different part of your brain/ consciousness which allows you to be creative and starts to get in touch with your true self.
Reflect on your list. Without meaning to, have you neglected some of the things that brought or bring you joy? How can you gently reintroduce them into your life? Without meaning to, we get caught up in a life that isn’t important to us due to external pressures and our need for approval. This is ‘ the hustle’, or ‘grind culture’, resulting in anxiety and unbalance that prevents us from rest and relaxation and play. Notice if it is one of your values to live a joyful life and practice adding these things from your list back into your life.
This isn’t a one-time thing. This can be done as much as you want to. I would recommend doing this once a month. Nothing makes you connect with your true self more than writing out the things that spark joy for you.
Meditation offers us a chance to meet ourselves unmasked. By paying attention to our breath and the experience of just being, we experience ourselves in a more authentic and raw way. You might notice that when you sit with yourself, a thousand worries, and memories and fears and hopes flood into the mind. This is perfectly normal at the beginning, and it is important to be gentle with yourself.
This week's meditation is inhalation- counting. Find a quiet place and a comfortable seated position. Set a timer for five minutes and close your eyes. Bring your awareness to your breathing. Once the breath is steady, you will begin to count the breath on each inhale. You will count 'one' on the first inhale, then exhale and count 'two' on the second inhale, and so forth. All the way to ten and then start again at one. If the mind wanders, just pick up from where you left off.
Think of this a spiritual gym. We are working on nourishing our inner world. It takes time and patience, but you will start to notice the magic of it very soon into practice.