Body image is a daily issue in my world.
I work as a psychotherapist in the treatment of eating disorders.
Thankfully—with eight years of my own eating disorder recovery behind me—my personal body image gremlins are tame most of the time. But I still have to be intentional about nurturing my mind, body and spirit.
While there are many facets to eating disorder recovery the most critical element is to learn to truly connect with your body.
Disconnection from the body.
Most of my clients are cut-off from their bodies from the neck down. And in our tech-obsessed culture, unfortunately that’s true for the majority the population, eating disordered or not.
If we aren’t mindful the body can become this entity that we lug around with us, have to feed in between meetings and carpool lines and then get mad at when it doesn’t look right in our new jeans. Exercise becomes just a way to burn calories after sitting at a desk all day.
This disconnection or illusion of separateness is what breeds dis-ease of all kinds—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Body hatred is the red herring— it allows us to focus on what we theoretically can control in the face of the many things we can’t.
The chakra system.
Author, yogi and psychotherapist Anodea Judith defines the chakras as the,
“Organizational centers for the reception, assimilation and transmission of life-force energy…the stepping-stones between heaven and earth.”
According to ancient Hindu tradition the chakras are the 7 energy centers in the body—aligned from the base of the spine through the crown of the head.
Chakra is the Sanskrit word for wheel or turning and each chakra is thought of a spinning vortex of energy. When a chakra becomes blocked or unbalanced in relation to the other chakras it can lead to illness—emotional or spiritual distress. It can even affect relationships and other life situations by impacting someone’s overall energy.
Reconnecting to the body through the chakras.
When we’re caught up in negative body image thoughts it’s a good indication that one or more of our chakras is out of whack.
Balancing the chakras is essentially a practice in connecting to the energy of the physical body while simultaneously honoring the spiritual, mental and emotional aspects of life.
Here are some brief tips to get started with chakra balancing.
#1. Try a chakra balancing guided meditation.
I love the ones by Belinda Davidson and Sara Brooke. Once you get the hang of it you can do the meditation without a guided recording.
#2. Use crystals that correspond to each chakra color.
You can carry a certain stone in your pocket for the day, meditate with one, or try making a gem elixir—make sure to research which crystals are safe to put in your drinking water. Whenever I drink gem elixir—often with rose quartz—it’s a reminder throughout my day to pause and check in with my body’s energy.
#3. Have a freestyle chakra dance party in your living room.
Light some candles, turn on a good dance playlist, set the intention to allow energy to flow freely through your chakras and just move.
Sometimes I’ll focus on movements that target specific areas of the body surrounding each chakra—one at a time—before going into a full-body flow.
Moving freely and joyfully is infinitely more helpful for body image than pounding away on the treadmill!
#4. Eat colorful foods.
Eating fresh, plant-based foods always helps me feel positive about my body because I know I’m giving it what it needs to thrive.
A bonus is that when you eat colorful foods that align with the color of a particular chakra you’re also working to balance that chakra.
A key here is also setting the intention to connect and work with particular chakras through your nutrition.
Next time you catch yourself judging your body—first, don’t judge your judging!
Then, remember your chakras spinning away, offering opportunities in each moment for integration of your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy.
By integrating chakra balancing practices into your self-care routine you’ll feel more connected to your body overall and be able to climb out of the negative body image hole much more quickly and effectively.
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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock