Emotional eating, can meditation help?
Do you in times of stress and anxiety find yourself reaching for the chocolate cake or biscuits?
On so many occasions when I have been stressed, anxious, tired or upset I have reached for food to comfort me. Like a cuddle or a warm cosy blanket, somehow for the moment I am eating it, all seems well in my world.
Unfortunately it doesn't last and I find myself feeling guilty, remorseful and wishing I had reached for that apple instead of the enormous piece of chocolate cake.
So why time after time do I put myself through this?
You would of thought by the time I hit my 40's I would of realised that this isn't going to solve my problems, just make them worse but I didn't.
Only a few years ago I was consumed by my thoughts and feelings and found it incredibly hard to take a step back and observe myself without reacting. I would think something negative, feel anxious or stressed and react, normally in a destructive manner to try and ease, mask or prevent the negative feeling.
I had no idea that I didn't have to react, I could just feel the feeling however uncomfortable that might be.
Not being able to accept negative feelings as part of life, is a very common ailment that we have in the western world.
There is something wrong with us, our lives, our job, our partner or even our kids, if we are not constantly happy and content with our lives. In truth how many people do you know that constantly strive for this only to be disappointed and disillusioned? The real truth is that nothing is a constant and life is always changing and fluid and therefore so are our thoughts and emotions and the acceptance of this is key to moving closer to a more peaceful and occasionally happy, content life.
Is depression a symptom of nonacceptance of negative feelings. An aversion to feel anxiety, grief, pain both emotionally and physically, stress etc?
Having suffered from depression most of my life I am in no way belittling depression as just nonacceptance, as there are extreme cases of clinical depression and manic depression that are very real and extremely difficult for anyone to cope with. I have however found that meditation and the acceptance of negative feelings has definitely helped me with my depression as I am sure it would with many people.
Very often feelings of depression will lead to emotional eating and further compound feelings of low self worth and a deeper depression.
So how can we learn to accept negative feeling and thoughts and not turn to food as an avoidance?
Through regular meditation you can learn to accept all the above and much more and so not need to emotionally eat to run away from the feelings.
Meditation teaches us how to be able to sit with all of our feelings and to treat both negative and positive emotions with curiosity and loving kindness. In being able to examine our feelings without fear, this gives us a greater understanding of ourselves and others around us.
If we can understand our thoughts and feelings better, this will only bring about a greater compassion for others, when they display behavior that we once displayed due to the avoidance of uncomfortable feelings. Being able to accept, sit and be curious with negative feelings and thoughts is incredibly empowering. What we once ran a mile from we can now embrace. The next time you feel anxious, stressed or out of control, just for a moment pause don't react and breathe into the emotion and then see if the emotion still has the same power it did initially. Being able to embrace the emotion takes all the power out of it.
Instead of running we are throwing our arms around it and saying welcome.
Meditation and mindfulness is a daily practice of mine and is as much part of my routine as brushing my teeth. You don't have to have a shrine, a meditation cushion, joss sticks or a Buddha sat in the corner to be able to meditate. You can meditate stood in cue, waiting for the kids to come out of school or while looking out of the window. Meditation is about checking in with yourself. Seeing where you are at and noticing the underlying feeling that is present. Giving yourself a moment to just breathe and notice. We are terrible at doing this in our society and in a time when the world is as crazy as it is today we need it even more.
As you become more curious about yourself you will want to meditate more and allocate time for this.
Many people say they don't have time for meditation, although it has been said that allowing time for meditation will give you more time. I think this is because your thought processes are clearer and so you achieve more in a shorter space of time.