Working from home

If you find yourself working from home, you may have mixed feelings about it. You’re probably grateful to have a job that allows you to continue to work remotely, but may have some anxieties about how to manage work life with home life. During this time, one thing we know for sure is the importance of staying both physically and mentally healthy. Here are a few tips to make working from home more effective: Set …

Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

These are just some of the symptoms you may notice in your loved ones, if you are concerned that someone you know may have an eating disorder, NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) is a great resource for support on how to talk to someone suffering from an eating disorder and help with how to find treatment. Over concern or fixation with body and weight Distorted body image Rapid weight loss or weight gain Constant dieting …

Navigating Breastfeeding and Eating Disorders: Support for Expectant & New Moms

Does breastfeeding generally help or impede recovery for people with eating disorders? The degree to which it helps or impedes recovery is dependent on many factors, including their use of symptoms, weight stability, and overall emotional health, both pre-pregnancy and postpartum. One study found that the severity of eating disordered symptoms postpartum was worse than pre-pregnancy for 57% of bulimic patients (Morgan, Lacey, & Segwick, 1999). Eating disordered behaviors tend to spike during times of …

Love and Honor This Body

As an activist in the Body Positive movement, I have the privilege of helping people break free from our culture’s obsession with body talk and its continuous trends of weight loss, body sculpting, and beautification designed for one reason only: to make people rich.

Taming the Wanting Mind

The wanting mind. The craving mind. The desiring mind. Call it what you will- we all have one and it can get the best of us while we are trying tirelessly to satisfy it. All wisdom texts tell us that we cannot quench or satisfy the craving for sense pleasures. Despite it being part of our human nature to orient toward pleasure and avoid pain, if left untamed, it can be highly destructive to you, …

The Power of Enough

This is a poem I have shared countless times over the years in MBSR classes, MSC classes, and beginning meditation. Just like with sacred texts, each reading of a poem can reveal another layer of wisdom to the listener. Hearing this again on silent retreat in the context of growing in greater self-compassion, I heard ENOUGH – enough is enough! But then self-doubt starts to make me wonder – is it really enough? What would it …

The Three Gatekeepers

Most spiritual, ethical, and social-emotional teachings all speak about the importance of speech in some way, shape, or form. I was inspired and guided Eknath Easwaran’s Words to Live By, in which he discusses the importance of three gatekeepers that help us strive toward “right speech”.  Before words pass our lips, each gatekeeper asks the following: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Imagine if we considered all three of these before speaking!  We …

The Yoga of Food

What if I were to say to you, “I am on a diet?”  What would come to mind?

What if a diet were a way of life, a way of being, perhaps even a philosophy? What if our eating or diet was informed by science, yet based on a model of abundance rather than deprivation, on an inner intelligence of what our body needs rather than external rules about what we should eat?

There are differences between diet as a way of living life rather than diet for therapeutic applications (for instance, using diet to reverse an already existing condition such as heart disease). But either way, whether it’s the state prior to disease or during disease, our choices (and an understanding of the root of those choices) make such profound effects at the level of the body, mind, and spirit.

How do we determine our choices?  By the latest scientific discoveries? By the newest food product that looks good on the shelf? By an advertisement? By stress that influences our unconscious choices? By the latest food pyramid? By the latest popular diet? By the latest nutritional data? By an inner and deeper sense of what’s needed? By a deeper sense of connection to self and others? By a clear, discriminative self-awareness?

I am a big believer in sustainability, and “should” is not a sustainable model. When I work with people in the therapeutic practice of yoga, my underlying premise is to create a sustainable practice that moves from a model of deprivation and “shoulds” to a model that encourages a greater sense of inner and outer connection. What will help us connect more with ourselves, and what can bring more joy into our lives?

So the yoga of food isn’t just about what you eat or how mindfully you eat, but a complete, holistic practice that looks at nourishing us at all levels of our being – our body, our subtle vital energy, our intellect, our higher intelligence, and the more abstract level of joyfulness.  When we can create a life that supports us at all these levels, then the yoga of food really becomes a subcategory for the yoga of life.

Can we gradually begin to listen to what the body wants and needs and trust ourselves? What do I mean by the words “trust” and “listen”?  How do we learn to trust ourselves when we might have experiences feeling let down by ourselves?  We feel bored, we feel restless, we feel angry, we feel afraid, we desire some pleasure….and we often go to something to distract us from those feelings. Food is often the first choice and often anything will do.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. To create this inner connection, you do not have to become a daily practitioner of yoga poses, breathing practices, or meditation to cultivate a deeper self-awareness. However, it’s important to begin somewhere, and a nice place to begin is learning to quiet yourself enough to listen to and trust ourselves. This way we can make choices that serve us. And as we begin to feel more inwardly connected, we can also begin to notice the difference between an authentic, what the body really longs for craving, rather than a desire for food that has a more complicated, psychological root. What motivates our hunger and eating? Are we hearing what our body is asking for or are we seeking some solace for our feelings of isolation, for instance? Ideally, we want to quiet ourselves enough that we can not only see what is at the root of our appetites and begin to address it at that level, but also quiet ourselves enough to hear what the body truly needs.

We have a longstanding habit, and a world that encourages it, of distracting ourselves from and distrusting our inner voices. There is an ancient intelligence present inside us; it just speaks a bit more quietly, yet much more sweetly and softly.  Start to learn to quiet yourself, listen to the whisper, and regain that trust.

Kathy Ornish is a practicing and certified yoga therapist (c-IAYT) and a certified yoga teacher (E-RYT-500). She serves as Senior Faculty at Gary Kraftsow’s American Viniyoga Institute where she is Faculty Specialist in the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. Kathy’s yoga therapy practice involves addressing individual’s structural, physiological, and emotional conditions. Her primary emphasis in all her teaching is the breadth of the yoga tradition using the appropriate application of the many tools of yoga in hopes that she can help people realize their highest potential.  For more information, please visit her website at www.goodspaceyoga.com

Pleasant, Unpleasant, & Neutral: Exploring Feeling Tones

This past month, I taught the second foundation of Mindfulness in our Tuesday evening Vipassana class.  I invited the group to explore feeling tones as they arose in meditation practice. The Pali word, Vedana, is roughly translated as feeling tones.  Feeling tones are not to be confused with an emotion like anger or sadness, but rather refer to the experience of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. The Buddha taught that attending to feeling tones allows us to be …