Use The Yoga Of Color And Breath To Cultivate A Healthy Body Image
My name is Kat and I suffered with an eating disorder for almost half of my life. I was trapped in the prison of my own mind. Not a day went by that I did not obsess about how I looked, what I was going to eat, how many calories I consumed and how I was going to exercise those calories away. There were days that I would not leave the house because I was embarrassed and disgusted by what I saw in the mirror.
I harmed myself physically by over-exercising, popping diet pills, starving and bingeing. I beat myself up mentally, emotionally and spiritually on my quest to obtain physical “perfection.” Feeling inadequate, I isolated myself, frequently turning down dates and other social activities. I mourn the time I spent worrying about fat and calories instead of living life to the fullest.
I attribute a lot of my healing to my Yoga and meditation practice, which rewired my relationship with food and my body. It was a long road, but I am happy to say that I have been fully recovered for over five years.
When I was fully engaged in the compulsive pattern of feeding an eating disorder, I believed that I was never good enough, good looking enough or thin enough. These thoughts were misperceptions, lies repeated by my thoughts that I believed. Meditation interrupts those chronic, negative thought patterns. With a consistent meditation practice, these chronic thoughts will slow over time.
While there are so many general benefits to a meditation practice, when coping with and recovering from an eating disorder, meditation can specifically help you develop a new and healthy relationship with your body. Through mediation practice, you can cultivate the ability to remain in the present. Through being in the present you can release worries about the past or wishes that things were different. You will learn to be here now and accept what is. As you breathe away stress and release thoughts that no longer serve you, you may feel a sense of calming and relaxing of old anxieties.
In the process of beginning a meditation practice, people may feel that they cannot do it and become frustrated. While meditation is not necessarily easy at first, it takes time and patience, akin to training a young puppy to sit still and be obedient. Each time to sit down to practice, be kind to yourself and keep in mind that you are focusing on your healing and doing something healthy and constructive for yourself. I assure you that with regular practice, it does become easier; stick with it.
This meditation is one that I find helpful for creating a healthy relationship with food and your body:
Clearing with Colors
Colors have their own individual healing qualities and energy frequencies. Each of the colors of the rainbow can be used for their healing potential to help bring you into equanimity. Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position on a cushion or pillow. (If you cannot do this comfortably, sit in a chair with both soles of your feet rooted firmly to the ground.) Turn the palms of your hands face up in a receiving gesture. If you feel comfortable, place your fingers in a mudra, or gesture, such as the chin mudra (the okay sign with the thumb and first fingers together).
Take a deep breath in and completely fill your lungs. Hold for five seconds before exhaling loudly with a sigh. Inhale again, filling your lungs to capacity. This time hold for eight seconds before exhaling with an even louder sigh. Allow your third and final clearing breath to be your deepest. Hold for ten seconds and with your loudest sigh yet; exhale out all of your stagnant energy.
Close your eyes. Notice the movement of your breath in and out of your body, letting it happen naturally. Observe: Is your breath shallow or is it long, deep and full? Don’t try to control it, just let it happen. Then slowly start to fill up your lower lungs, feeling your abdominal area move in and out as you breathe. Make peace with the feeling of your belly expanding as you inhale. Many of us forget to breathe into our bellies, the way babies do naturally. Through connecting with our breath, we are relearning to take care of ourselves.
Meditation interrupts negative thought patterns. With a consistent meditation practice, these chronic thoughts will slow over time.
Continue this soft belly breathing and inhale while visualizing red light traveling up from the Earth, up your spine towards the crown of your head. Imagine that you are exhaling this red light from the crown of your head back down into the Earth. Repeat five times using red light. Bring your awareness to how this color affects your well-being. Exhale all tension and negativity out into the Earth. Allow the healing capacity of the red light to fill you.
Next, use the color orange for five full breaths. Then yellow. Then green. Then blue. Then purple. And finally white.
Allow the clearing white light to move through you and out of you, cleansing you of anything that no longer serves you. See yourself healing and being healed as you breathe in this light from the Earth. Stay here for at least ten breaths.
About the Author:
Kat Chiou earned a MA in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica. She facilitates spiritual groups and workshops and is a certified life coach and spiritual facilitator in LA. Chiou is the author of Powerful Meditations for Eating Disorders: Two Weeks to a Healthier You.
Source: Reprinted from LA Yoga magazine