Starting Your Journey to Spiritual Healing: Part 3 of Finding the Spiritual in Eating Disorder Treatment—A 5-Part Series

You’ve recognized that you’ve got some spiritual pain.  Congratulate yourself for the awareness—it’s a hard thing to acknowledge.  You may be thinking, is spiritual healing even possible. Do I even want it?  I feel so far away from God or my higher power in my life in San Diego that it just seems like too big of a gulf to bridge.  I understand that it can feel overwhelming.  I want to encourage you that all you have to do is take the first, small step.  Sometimes you have to walk before you run, and sometimes you have to tiptoe before you walk.  Let’ go ahead and stick that foot out there and start the journey.

When you are recovering from disordered eating, one primary focus needs to be on physical nourishment. It’s a vital component of treatment that heals your brain and body.  In therapy, another focus is nourishing yourself psychologically and emotionally.  It helps you change your thinking and improve how you manage your emotions.  You learn to use coping skills instead of eating disorder behaviors.  Along the same vein, spiritual nourishment is essential to help your soul feel anchored so that you can weather the storms of both recovery and of life in general.

How do you anchor yourself spiritually?  The first step is to spend time daily to nurture your spiritual self.  Given that most of us have crazy busy lives, I encourage you to carve out 10 to 15 minutes and actually put it in your daily schedule. You can call it your “date with God” or “meditation time” or “spiritual time”—whatever you want.  Just put it in your schedule so that you can make it a priority.  

Okay, so you’ve made the time, so what do you do with it?  The second step is to identify what spiritual practices will be helpful for you. It will take a few weeks of experimenting to discover what works for you and what doesn’t.  I find it helpful to have several spiritual tools in your toolbox so that you can select one that may fit you better, depending on what you need that day.  Here are some initial ideas:

Meditation—I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of meditating on managing your anxiety and calming the brain.  There are some excellent guided meditation apps out there to start learning how to meditate.  Headspace and Stop, Breathe, and Think are two good apps.  You can even start with three-to-five-minute meditations and then work up to longer ones.

Journaling—Buy a journal that is especially for your spiritual time and have it in an accessible place so that you can pick it up easily without having to dig into a bag or peruse a bookshelf for it.  I find that using a pen and a physical journal is more helpful than typing something out on your phone, tablet, or computer.  There’s something about engaging your arm and your hand and getting away from the digital that is calming.  That said, if you really don’t like writing by hand, do what works best for you.  

You may journal prayers to God or your higher power.  You can write down your thoughts and explore your emotions.  You can even write poetry!  Do whatever it takes to help you feel spiritually grounded and connect to your inner, authentic self.  I have been writing in journals since elementary school, and it connects me with God in a powerful way.

Prayer—Whatever type of prayer feels comfortable for you at this point will be helpful.  It may be as simple as saying, “God, I’m hurting,” or “Universe, life is really hard.”  You may use memorized prayers, such as the Serenity prayer or one from your faith orientation.  You may also just speak honestly from your heart.  For those from a Christian background, there is a contemplative prayer app called Centering Prayer.  No matter what you do, open yourself to the spiritual working in your life and healing your heart.

Reading—There are so many amazing options of devotional readings that help you access the spiritual.  Sacred texts of various faiths, such as the Koran, Bible, Torah, etc., are always good choices.  If sacred texts are triggering for you, or you’d like other options, there are also myriad books that address various components of spirituality.  If you are in a faith organization, ask your pastor, priest, Imam, or rabbi for guidance.  You can even go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and search books on spirituality.  There are a lot of resources.  When you get a book or two, use your daily spiritual time to go through a few pages and then meditate, pray, or journal on what you have read.  Savor it so you can soak in the message and nourish your soul.

There are so many other spiritual tools that can be helpful, such as listening to music, drawing or painting, connecting with nature, watching a candle burn and flicker, or attending faith community events.  I’ve even spent some spiritual time watching the bees outside my window float from flower to flower.   Whatever you do, do it with the intention of connecting to your authentic self and to your higher power.  You will feel more peace and patience throughout the day.

Thanks so much for reading my blog!  Look out for next week’s entry, which will be, “Diving Deeper into Spiritual Healing.” Have a wonderful week!  :)

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!