The body is here and now.
Contributed by Anna Chapman.
The body is here and now.
That is all it can be.
I love food and always have. I love the way it tastes, how it looks, the colors, and the smells. Growing up I was raised by a father who showed love through cooking and preparing food, and a mother who showed love by removing food through portion control and eating restrictions. As you can imagine for a small child this was very confusing and caused turmoil in regards to what and how much I should eat. Compounded by the media’s obsession with how a woman’s body should look this was a recipe for a very confused little girl.
Growing up in Guam and Hawaii with typhoons, earthquakes, home robbery, and racism as the norm, added to the internal turmoil I felt. My home was full of love and food yet I was living in a turbulent environment with a slightly confused state of mind. There were and continue to be many extraneous circumstances that shaped the person I have become and one of the coping skills I developed early on was that food was safe.
By the time I was 11 I was on my first diet, and had a gym membership. At 15 I was “diagnosed” with over eating disorder (Which I now believe to be a sham), and at the ripe age of 22 I weighed in at 417 pounds in the unhappiest mental state a person could exist. Until I had hit what I could only assume was rock bottom, I hadn’t truly felt anything in years. I was sad all the time. It was numbing; an overflowing of sadness that didn’t evoke anything but avoidance. Until that point I had not wanted to deal with, let alone understand why I couldn’t stop eating or why overeating was so physically painful yet emotionally nurturing. Why was I broken?
After seeking help from family and friends I initiated a change. I began researching, working out, and eating healthier. But the real problem I’ve come to understand had nothing to do with food.
Let’s fast forward 5 years, where here I stand more than 100 lbs. lighter, equip with a wealth of knowledge about food production and nutrition. But none of that matters to me anymore, I no longer weigh my worth in pounds.
In the past five years I have been pealing back the layers of who I am, and why I am the way I am. I’ve dug deep into my childhood and healed many old wounds. I have found and reclaimed my relationship with this perfectly amazing body. I’ve developed compassionate self-talk that nurtures myself when I need love over food. I have realized that my body was never against me that it kept growing to keep me safe because I was never able to tell it that I could take over as an adult. I no longer need to worry and go into starvation mode, because I am safe. And the most profound wisdom I can give you is to start an open line of communication between your mind, body, and soul. Be curious and open about what it is that you do not want to feel.
Mindfulness has been my biggest gift within this work of self-discovery. The moment I check out of my experience my body goes into autopilot and I start doing things I haven’t done in years. Two of my favorite tools that link mindfulness and the body require nothing but an open mind and a playful curiosity.
- #1. Mindful Eating: Start by creating your meal, whatever it is prepare it with all your senses. Smell your food, take it in with your eyes, and be present while you are putting the meal together. Once its ready dim the lights, turn off all devices (even music), set your place beautifully with a candle on your favorite plate. Sit down and take three deep breaths, arrive in your seat with this beautiful life force meal you have created. As you start to eat chew your food, take it in with all your senses, feel into your body as it goes down your esophagus and into your belly. Don’t rush the next bite, enjoy every mouthful and only eat what appeals to you. If part of it is not feeling good in your body, don’t eat that part. Take in only exactly, and as much as your body wants. If you aren’t sure what this feels like, be present and see what happens if you physically ask, “Body, do you want more? Are you satisfied?” When you are done take a few deep breathes and just give your body a moment to let the experience sync. Feel gratitude for the fullness of the moment.
- #2. Body Awareness Appreciation: I’m a big advocate for self-talk. Throughout the day I am usually having a conversation with my body and soul… often even out loud. When I used to workout my words were very aggressive, “DON’T STOP, KEEP MOVING, PUSH PUSH PUSH!” What I realized years later, is that my body didn’t like being spoken to in this way. Now I practice appreciation, if I go for a run I’m saying, “Wow look at you run, legs you are amazing pushing me forward, arms you are so strong, belly thank you for the strength.” I usually throw in a few, “You are such a brilliant goddess, I am in awe of you” moments as well. When I dance I feel into the movement and delight in the new ways I am able to move. When any part of my body hurts I give gratitude to it for working so hard and for holding me up and for being so strong. This little shift in body awareness and appreciation can be profound; it makes movement more fun and much more fulfilling.
I invite you to try these tools, and to be conscious of what you are feeling; specifically when you are checked out of your experience with regards to food and body awareness. It seems easier sometimes to disengage rather then open up to the seemingly hard and uncomfortable parts of life. But this is where growth happens, it’s in the uncomfortable places that we see how strong and stable we are. Trust life and know that you are divinely supported... that you were given the perfect body. Live from a place of love and openness where everything is possible.
Anna Chapman is a hippie-goddess-yogi-cat-lady, living in Portland Oregon. She is passionate about healing her body and discovering the beauty that shines from within. She is offering a workshop in collaboration with Soul Coach, Kathy Carlisle November 15th and 16th called “Dare to live from the inside out”. Inspiring attendees that this life is happening for you not to you, offering tools to live a full, vibrant, and magical life. She also offers one on one Body Love sessions to help bring in positive self-talk and body appreciation through compassion and love. She is a firm believer in the fact that no one is broken, and once we can shine a little light on the dark parts of ourselves we see there is only love there. To find out more about Anna, visit www.iamannachapman.com