Today's blog for Eating Disorders Awareness Week sees Chinmayi Dore share an exert from her book BodyMAGIC
Chinmayi shares that one of the key messages in the healing from disordered eating is the ability to relax. This helps to manage everyday stress, balance the emotions and therefore food is no longer a coping mechanism or soother. It is a huge chapter called Nature Calls offering topics all aspects of healthy living whilst connecting with nature, as Chinmayi calls it “Honouring the hand that feeds us.” This is a passage from that chapter...
Natural Sleep, Natural Relaxation
“And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower, then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.”
~ DH Lawrence
We have all heard the term ‘a change is as good as a rest’. And a change to anything is nearly always for the better. For some, a rest is going for a beer at the local bar, playing cards with friends, dancing the night away in a club, playing sport, visiting a museum or going to the cinema. This feels like a rest because it takes us out of our routine, away from the mundane and into a place of escape, where we can forget about our cares for a while. It’s respite and it is great to have that change of scenery and energy regularly in our lives. However, this is not the kind of rest that I’m talking about. Real rest and relaxation are things we seem to have forgotten about. Traditional and natural relaxation is a conscious practice to connect with the body and mind and encourage a letting go of tension in both. It’s sadly missing for most of us.
Yet it is more important than ever before. The Mental Health Foundation report that 59% of British adults say their life is more stressful than it was five years ago. The main causes of stress in Britain are money and work. People are three times more likely to drink alcohol to help deal with stress than to visit their doctor (1). With stress-related illness at an all-time high, quality relaxation is one thing that can be extremely health-changing. The results are rejuvenation and revitalisation, giving us long-lasting health benefits to keep us feeling good inside. When we feel good inside, we want to put good stuff in. Our diet improves, our health improves. MAGIC!
We also tend to assume that relaxation is what we do when we go to bed. Again, I would say that sleep and relaxation are also radically different. Yes, you are resting your body and mind, but not consciously. It is in the conscious practice of relaxation that the MAGIC! can happen.
Abdominal Breathing Exercise
This is a skill for better sleep, helping you to really relax, beating stress and increasing your awareness of your body and its connection with your mind. It is done in Savasana (covered in Chapter Eight - YogaMAGIC!). Once in Savasana, bring your hands on to your lower abdomen. Breathe deep, slow and silently, allowing your abdomen to rise with your inhale and fall with your exhale. Unlike normally breathing, you are not breathing into your chest.
I find it the most relaxing way to breathe and it makes sense why. When we breathe naturally and automatically, the body realises that it is running out of oxygen so it calls for you to inhale. Then when it is ready to get rid of carbon dioxide, it will trigger an exhale response. This is a tiny bit of stress response from within the body with each breath to transport the messages for you to breathe. When you take control of your breath in exercises like Abdominal Breathing, your nervous system gets a little break. In addition, breathing into the abdomen allows the oxygen to get to the bottom of the lungs where there is a higher concentration of blood vessels, making oxygen intake much easier for the body. Therefore you are able to relax more deeply. Furthermore, you will feel more relaxed because of the internal massage you are giving yourself, without any effort from your hands! Try this for 10 minutes or more, any time you feel stressed or emotional, you are struggling to ‘let go’ of the day’s challenges, and/or you are struggling to sleep. It’s MAGIC!
Sleep is very often disturbed by eating habits. If we don’t get enough of it, we can feel lethargic and low in energy. The brain can then send signals to you for energy that you can often misinterpret as food calls! Evidence shows that lack of proper sleep is one of the key reasons for weight gain and obesity, even in children (2).
I believe that almost all of us need 7-9 hours per day of good quality sleep. It’s the body’s time not just for rest, but for regenerating cells. It’s the chance you get for a new body every seven years! Most of that renewal takes place at night.
If you are having trouble sleeping, consider the following:
Things to change
The two-hour rules:
avoid eating within two hours of your planned bedtime
for five days a week, rise and retire with the sun, or within two hours of it
stay away from your laptop or mobile device within two hours of bed (blue light can be confused with daylight by your brain)
cut out coffee, or at least try, for a month. Avoid any other caffeine two hours after lunch
finish your main water intake two hours before your planned bedtime
apart from relaxing yoga or stretching, avoid exercise within two hours of bedtime
switch your phone off two hours before bedtime. The time before bed is for winding down
Things to start
put 3-4 drops of lavender on your pillow
if your head is spinning with thoughts, try a few drops of Rescue Remedy by Bach
if you are going through some difficult times, try chanting or simply listening to a slow mantra for ten minutes or more. There are loads on the internet, but one of my favourites is Om Nama Shivaya by the Singers of the Art of Living Foundation. It’s releasing, soothing and calming
seek guidance from books, or find professional help for trauma, bereavement or major life events - you deserve to be free
sip a small cup of chamomile tea an hour before bed
"Nearly half of adults feel stressed every day or every few days." Mental Health Foundation. Ed. Andrew McCulloch. N.p., 8 Jan. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2015. <http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-news/news-archive/2013-news-archive/130108-stress/>.
Cappuccio, Francesco P., et al. "Meta-analysis of short sleep duration and obesity in children and adults." Sleep 31.5 (2008): 619.
What else can you do to help yourself?
Chinmayi offers many techniques in her book for overcoming emotional or binge eating and for living a life in health, healing and happiness. Everything from crystals to chakras, Emotional Freedom Technique to the Enneagram, food facts to fads and fallacies. There is also free private access two filmed yoga classes, a profound meditation audio and a yoga nidra (deep relaxation) recording which improves body image and self-love. These techniques are scientifically proven to enhance health in mind, body and spirit.
You can get more information and access to her book HERE. On Amazon you can read another sample too!
To join the BodyMAGIC! family for free help and support with emotional or binge eating, please go HERE