6 Nov 2015
What best characterizes your relationship with your body?
Do you speak to it in terms of endearment: ‘dear body’ or does it have more of an abusive tone to it? Or is it just something that now needs another haircut, is putting on a little weight, is tired, is a bit sore at times?
During our Mindful Eating retreats, participants are asked what they think their bodies say about them: ‘Lazy, pathetic, weak and un-disciplined are some of the words’. There is such pain in those words and they only occur when we see our bodies with ‘outside eyes’.
This perspective is often harsh and judging. It creates an unhealthy inner climate; a feeling of ‘not good enough’ and ‘things aren’t right’. Not only is this not conducive to happiness, but it also creates a tough interior for our poor cells. These judging thoughts send a message to the whole system that says: ‘things aren’t right!’ This generates the stress response, so a rise of cortisol levels and that is even more dramatic if you experience other stress factors as well. When stressed our ability to ‘do good’ is not easily accessible to us, we just want to ‘feel good’. When we are stressed we can’t access the big priorities like nourishing the body – we just want to feel good NOW; ‘give me the Tim-Tams, the chips, the chocolate and the chardonnay!’ In this way, we use food for emotional regulation.
To step out of that cycle, we need to change our relationship with our body, we need to shift from ‘outside eyes’ to ‘insight eyes’. This does not happen overnight, it is a slow but hopefully steady change process.
First, meet your ‘insight eyes’!
Take a moment, close the eyes and say; ‘dear body, I am listening to your language.’ Notice how that feels.
Look at your hands and consider all that they do and have done. Consider what they have held, caressed and touched.
Notice the breath; notice it wherever it is most noticeable to you. Take a moment to appreciate this life giving mechanism, notice the gentle rise and drop of the body as it is breathing.
See if you can notice the heart beating, follow it’s gentle rhythm.
Through ‘insight eyes’ we realize that our body is an expression of life like a flower, a donkey or an ant. There is nothing wrong with any of these expressions of life, right? Insight eyes are tender, they are empathic. From a brain functioning perspective empathy and judgment cannot be present at the same time.
Often the body cops a tough time, it pays the price for our poor emotional regulation, for upsets and bad moods, and on top of it, we get upset when it then puts on weight due to us having eaten too much! We can only abuse what we don’t feel connected to. So the more kindness and empathy you feel for your dear body, the more in tune you are with it, the less likely it is that you will abuse it and the healthier your interior naturally becomes. Make the ‘insight eyes’ the eyes you use to see your body.
I have recorded a little mind training to help you get started on the kinder relationship with the body and to connect with the Insight eyes.
If you would like to know more about Mindful Eating you can also watch this clip: