Living with an eating disorder isn’t easy. You may feel guilt, shame, or even emotional numbness. It’s not uncommon to feel disconnected from your thoughts and feelings. This disconnect can lead to a cycle of harmful behaviors like purging, binging, or not eating at all.
One way to get in tune with your detached emotions is to practice meditation for eating disorders. Ultimately, meditation therapy helps you make more sound health decisions as you undergo treatment.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a method of noticing your thoughts and feelings nonjudgmentally and in the moment. The practice is to observe your thoughts and feelings, then let them pass. Meditation was a religious practice, but you don’t have to follow any particular religious tradition to reap its benefits.
Counselors teach meditation therapy to people in treatment for an eating disorder or other disorders.
While meditation is a calming practice, it is by no means inactive. On the contrary, by meditating, you increase your focus, concentration, and awareness by evoking a state of mindfulness.
During meditation, you focus your attention on a sensory object, usually your breath. You do this while you acknowledge and disengage from your emotions. This focus leads to open monitoring. Monitoring is an awareness characterized by careful and nonjudgmental monitoring of current emotions, sensations, and perceptions.
Meditation doesn’t replace comprehensive treatment, but it can be a valuable holistic tool as you heal from an eating disorder.
Meditation for Eating Disorders
People associate eating disorders with unhealthy food behaviors, but they extend far beyond nutrition. They’re complex mental health conditions that require medical and psychological intervention. They often start with an obsession with food, weight, or body shape. If left untreated, severe cases can cause serious health consequences and even death.
While eating disorders and their causes are complex, it’s clear that diet culture plays a part in their prevalence. Diet culture teaches that your body shapes and size impact or define your worth, overall wellness, goodness, and morality. Unfortunately, diet culture is so mainstream that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to avoid.
Belief in diet culture can harm your well-being. The stress caused by diet culture can lead to a feedback loop of harmful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Meditation can help with this stress by lowering levels of your body’s stress hormones. By focusing your attention and eliminating the obsessive thoughts crowding your mind, you can breathe easier and regulate your heart rate. As a result, those who practice meditation for eating disorders can feel a sense of deep calm, peace, and balance.
Meditation’s Contribution to Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself. You’re able to evaluate how your actions, thoughts, or emotions align with your standards. If you’re highly self-aware, you can evaluate yourself objectively. This objectivity means you don’t ostracize yourself if you don’t fit the ideal body image. You are more patient with yourself. You also can better manage your feelings, align your behaviors and values, and understand how others perceive you. Meditation can help you increase self-awareness, which is a fundamental tool for self-control.
When you practice meditation for eating disorders, you can turn thoughts like “I hate my arms. I need to lose another 10 pounds before Ashley’s wedding” to “I love my body and am grateful for everything it does for me.” This change in inner narrative likely won’t happen overnight, but it can with regular practice.
The goal of meditation is to develop a habit called trait mindfulness. Trait mindfulness is the tendency to exhibit mindful qualities in daily life. Those with trait mindfulness become non-reactive to distressing thoughts and emotions. You observe your momentary thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and sensations — good or bad. Mindfulness helps you stop dwelling on harmful thoughts and feelings. Instead, you notice them and let them pass.
Meditation Therapy for Eating Disorders at ILC
Getting help for an eating disorder can be difficult, especially while managing the disorder itself. The first step is finding a medical professional you trust.
At Integrative Life Center, we offer multiple levels of care, including meditation therapy, for those seeking lasting recovery. Our eating disorder treatment will meet you where you are in your recovery journey. You will receive help from experienced medical professionals, counselors, and registered dietitians, along with a comprehensive plan that treats all areas of your life that the disorder may have affected.
Treatment for an eating disorder includes:
- Identifying the core drivers of eating disorders and disordered eating
- Managing eating disorder symptoms
- A program to regain and maintain a healthy weight
- A plan to enhance your physical, mental, and emotional well-being
Contact ILC today to get started on your path into a life filled with positive emotions about food and how you show up in the world.