You may be sensing that some deeper longing or hunger within you is fueling your emotional eating. How do you know if your emotional eating represents a yearning for spiritual connection and nourishment? In Part I of this article, I suggested that spiritual depletion may be experienced as a restlessness or sense of unease, discontent or dissatisfaction with life, even at times when life seems relatively fulfilling. You’re longing for more of something in life and while you long to put an end to your emotional eating and have a slimmer, healthier body, a part of you knows that even that won’t make you truly happy. Something is missing and you can’t quite put your finger on it.
Spiritual connection involves a letting go of our small, material self and a surrendering to something seemingly unknown. Thomas Moore, author of the New York Times Bestseller Care of the Soul writes:
“In the broadest sense, spirituality is an aspect of any attempt to approach or attend to the invisible factors in life and to transcend the personal, concrete, finite particulars of this world. This spiritual point of view is necessary for the soul, providing the breadth of vision, the inspiration and the sense of meaning it needs.”
If you’re overeating and/or bingeing and struggling to cope day-to-day, spirituality may be the farthest thing from your mind. If your life feels unmanageable, surrender can feel like an unwanted loss of control or a sense of fragmentation or non-existence. And yet, the pain and suffering you are experiencing regularly may be just the impetus you need to search for a nurturing spiritual connection.
If your life feels relatively full and you still find yourself regularly overeating, it may be a periodic emptiness, restlessness or sense that nothing brings everlasting joy that leads to a search for nourishment beyond the physical.
Keep in mind that spirituality does not have to mean organized religion or a belief in a higher power. A hike in the mountains or a walk by the shore on a sunny winter day can be a spiritual activity–it gets us away from our routine and allows us to be inspired by the processes of nature.
If you currently have no defined spiritual practice and would like to begin to search for one, here are several options to consider:
Option #1: Take a class in meditation. Try any technique that calls to you. Check for classes offered by spiritual/ meditation centers, churches, temples, ashrams and even adult schools and university extensions.
Option #2: Explore spiritual traditions or philosophies that interest you. Perhaps you have always been intrigued by Zen Buddhism or you have longed to participate in an African drumming experience. Take a class, attend a gathering or buy a book and begin to explore these paths.
Option #3: Practice yoga regularly. Yoga is a centuries old philosophy and practice brought to us from the East. There are many different types of yoga. Begin by trying a few different types of classes to find the practice and teacher that best suits your needs and temperament.
Option #4: Revisit your birth religion. If this calls to you, go back as an adult, with an open mind and explore your birth religion. Perhaps certain practices in your religion call to you more than others. For example, if you were born Christian, perhaps a larger church with a gospel choir would be more attractive than the small church of your youth. If you were born Jewish, you may want to explore Kaballah, or mystical Judaism. You may be more drawn to a reform temple than the conservative one of your childhood.
Option #5: Spend time regularly communing with nature. Carve out time regularly for a walk along the ocean, river or stream’s edge, a walk or hike in the mountains or woods or a stroll in a park or meadow. Consciously choose to quiet your mind when in nature as you take in the sights and sounds.
Option #6: Spend quality time with animals. Animals live in the present moment and they offer unconditional love. Connection to animals can open up unknown parts of yourself. If you aren’t currently the guardian of a furry creature, consider adopting an animal or visiting or volunteering at an animal shelter or wildlife sanctuary. A nourishing soul connection to a furry companion may be just the right form of spirituality for you.
Option #7: Connect with your Higher Self regularly. This is the wise, loving, expansive advisor that exists within you and communicates to you through intuition, feeling states, insight, epiphanies and revelations. Contact your Higher Self by quieting your mind and imagining this part of yourself. You might picture it as a beautiful radiant light or ethereal being. Ask your Higher Self to assist you in making the connection. As you continue to practice your connection with this nourishing source, it can become the main guide in your life.
Opening yourself up to spiritual connection involves releasing any preconceived notions you may have and keeping an open mind. Regardless of your belief system, regular practices that increase connection will help resolve your spiritual depletion and associated emotional eating. You truly have nothing to lose, other than the excess weight.
Posted by Julie M. Simon, MA, MBA, MFT. If you have a question or topic you would like to see addressed in this blog, go to http: //www.overeatingrecovery.com