When we are stressed we can’t prioritise our needs, such as nourishing the body. We just want to feel good NOW. ‘Give me the chips, the chocolate and the chardonnay!’
We were standing next to each other in front of all the glorious cakes both waiting to order. She said, “I am going to be good”. I know what she meant; if she had a cake she would be bad.
This kind of thinking takes us away from being present, away from ‘living now’. Behind that one sentence is a pattern of being that is characterised by good versus bad and healthy versus unhealthy.
This divisive way of thinking also represents a disconnect from the body. If we are intimately connected with the body in kindness then we may choose not to have a cake simply because it is not what the body needs, or we might choose to have one and really enjoy the gift of food. The decision is not about rules, good or bad, but simply about what the dear body needs or doesn’t need.
During a recent retreat, participants were asked what they thought their bodies would say about them.‘Lazy, pathetic, weak, undisciplined’,were some of the responses. There is such pain in those words and they only occur when we see our bodies with ‘outside eyes’, a perspective that is often harsh and judgmental. These rigid thoughts send a message to the whole system, which generates the stress response –a rise of cortisol levels.
When we are stressed we can’t prioritise our needs, such as nourishing the body. We just want to feel good NOW. ‘Give me the TimTams, the chips, the chocolate and the chardonnay!’We use food for emotional regulation.
We can step out of that cycle by changing our relationship with our body, shifting from ‘outside eyes’ to ‘insight eyes’. You can access your insight eyes by simply paying attention to the body in kindness.
Through these insight eyes we realise 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.
Insight eyes are tender and empathic. From a brain function perspective, empathy and judgment cannot be present at the same time.
Often the body pays the price for our poor emotional regulation, for upsets and bad moods, and on top of this, we get frustrated when it then puts on weight due to our having eaten too much.
We can only abuse what we don’t feel connected to, and we protect what we fall in love with.
Here is a video by Charlotte. She recorded a little mind training to help us get started on a kinder relationship with the body.
Charlotte Thaarup-Owen is an internationally experienced clinical mindfulness consultant and transformative educator, having trained hundreds of psychologists in Mindfulness, as well as individuals from all walks of life. Her ‘Mindful Leadership program’ and her ‘Dear Body’ programs are both university researched programs. Charlotte offers mindfulness coaching, retreats, workshops and corporate training.
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