I don’t have a perfect meditation practice and you’ll rarely find me sitting cross-legged or chanting. Yet I do have a regular spiritual practice that incorporates mindfulness and meditation. For example, I center myself each morning, and sometimes again in between clients or in between work and going home. Sometimes I take a moment for myself before making a phone call, to release whatever I might be thinking about and focus my attention on the present moment.
Meditation doesn’t have to look like what you think it will. Open your mind to your own style and examine different resources and classes. There are online communities, apps, and physical locations that offer free introductory classes where you can try things out before you commit.
At the White Picket Fence Counseling Center, a lot of people contact us in order to reconnect with themselves, and are surprised to realize that we incorporate so many physical modalities. As we discussed in a previous post, these physical activities can actually improve your brain chemistry, helping you to manage the stress of recovering from an eating disorder.
You can practice mindfulness by sitting still, but you can also practice it when you’re moving around, when you’re having a conversation with someone. Imagine mindfully listening to another person! When is the last time you listened that way, concentrating on hearing their words and nuances, witnessing their body language, all without any inner dialogue going on about what you think or what you’re going to say next?
There are different levels of mindfulness – you may need to work your way up to the more traditional forms of meditation. Some stepping stones might include:
- Guided imagery
- Singing or playing music
- Making a collage
- Doing crafts
- Taking a walk
- Sitting quietly on a bench and watching people
- Experiencing something in beautiful in nature
- Taking a quiet moment
- Looking at art
For more suggestions, please see these previous articles:
Some guided meditations instruct you to connect, mentally, with different parts of your body, for example to imagine your muscles clenching and then relaxing. For those with an eating disorder, it may feel too threatening or uncomfortable to connect with certain body parts.
My advice? Start with your feet.
Most people find it safest to connect with the feet – though it’s not always easy. At a recent training for MY Therapy (a combination of mindfulness and yoga therapy), when the instructor asked us to connect with our feet, we all laughed when we realized we had all looked down instead of just imagining our feet.
So open your mind to the idea of mindfulness, and find a gentle way to introduce this powerful practice into your life. You’ll be amazed at the gifts you may find inside your mind.