What brings you peace in your life in San Diego? When do you feel most connected to the world around you—to other people, to animals, to nature? When do you feel a sense of well-being? These are some of the questions I might ask my clients when getting them to focus on what feeds them spiritually in San Diego. In eating disorder recovery, so much of the focus can be on food and our bodies, but what often is a missing piece in treatment is nourishing our souls.
I am going to focus the next five blog posts on the spiritual component of eating disorder treatment. This first one has to do with the most important component of recovering from some sort of disordered eating—filling your spiritual cup. Your “cup” is the part of you from which you draw strength—the core of yourself that feels grounded and authentic. Having a full spiritual cup helps you give to parts of your life that may sap energy.
The Caveat: I want to start with the very strong caveat that I am not a theologian or a clergyperson. I’m a psychotherapist whose scope of practice is your emotional, psychological, and relational well-being. I strongly believe that spirituality is a large component of that well-being. I started studying how to integrate spirituality ethically into therapy and clinical training in graduate school, and I haven’t stopped in my 21 years in the field. Over that time, I have used it with numerous clients—with their explicit permission, of course. In many cases, I have found that spirituality can be a powerful resource for their recovery and growth.
Okay, so what the heck does “filling your spiritual cup” mean and how do you do it? I have three tips to help you in this process.
Tip #1: Intentionally focus on nurturing your spiritual self. It will help you give more to yourself and others. When you are planning out your weekly schedule, really consider what helps you feel more grounded, authentic, and at peace. Make it a priority. Consider it spiritual food; rather than nourishing your physical bodies, it nourishes your souls. For some people, it could mean regularly attending a spiritual/religious community event, such as at a temple, church, or mosque. For others, it may mean connecting with nature by going to a place that generates as sense of calm or well-being. The most important component is that it needs to be consistent, just like eating.
Tip #2: Prioritize your relationship with a higher power—whether you call it/him/her God, Universe, “HP,” or Spirit. I once heard of a woman in recovery whose higher power was Spiderman. That worked for a while until she got tired of it and decided to switch to Batman. :) Regardless how you describe your higher power, it is a relationship, like other relationships in your life. So, how do you nurture important relationships? You spend time with that person (or animal!). Schedule daily time to connect with your higher power. It can be even as simple as praying during your commute or spending five to ten minutes reading sacred text or an inspirational book. Make it consistent, make it doable, and make it meaningful.
Tip #3: Be gentle with yourself during this process of filling your spiritual cup. You may have some pain or reactivity when it comes religion or spirituality. You may be really struggling and feel abandoned by God or your higher power. I encourage you to discuss these feelings with a trusted friend, family member, clergyperson, or your therapist. Know that you deserve to feel spiritually whole, and spiritual healing is possible. Start with the simplest of questions—what brings me peace? Then do those things. Show yourself love and compassion. You don’t have to have your spiritual beliefs all figured out.
To consider: Some of you might be thinking, “I’m not really spiritual or religious, and so learning about spirituality and recovery does not fit me.” I encourage those of you in that situation to consider parts of your life that feel very authentic and deep. Then ask yourself, what can I do to connect to those parts? I have had clients in the past who have not been overtly religious or spiritual, but they feel a sense of peace when they go to the beach, hike in the mountains, look at a beautiful piece of art, listen to calming music, or connect with loved ones.
Whatever your process, I hope that these three tips help you start on your path to ensuring that your spiritual cup is filled. Join me next week for Part Two of Finding the Spiritual in Eating Disorder Treatment: Dealing with Spiritual Pain. Thanks for reading! :)
If you are struggling to find eating disorder treatment in San Diego, give me a call for your free 15-minute phone consultation at (858) 699-3754, and I will help you get where you need to be!