Spirituality -- Or Not
An interesting discussion went on a while ago on my Food and Feelings message board (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings) regarding the role of spirituality in helping people change their relationship with food and their bodies. Obviously, change can happen with or without being a spiritual person. I’ve seen amazing transformations by folks who are highly religious and those who are total non-believers. What’s important is for you to identify and utilize what works for you.
The dictionary definition of spirituality is, “devotion to spiritual things instead of worldly things,” with spiritual defined as “having something to do with the spirit or soul.” People who are spiritual usually think of themselves as having a part of themselves that is not physical, a divine soul or essence. They may look for a “greater” meaning or purpose in life and see themselves as guided by and in the hands of God or a higher power. They might use prayer to help them follow the rules of “normal” eating or to manage emotional distress. Non-spiritual folks (atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, non-believers) believe their life’s purpose is to be found on this earth and question or reject the concept of God or the soul. Their focus is on the mind/body in the here and now, not beyond it.
My point in writing about spirituality is to help you sort out your own thinking about the part it may or may not play in your recovery from eating problems. Be assured, I am not espousing spirituality. It is definitely not necessary for you to progress or succeed in developing a positive relationship with food or your body. What is necessary is knowing what helps you. Although most people do think about metaphysical questions as they go through life, some follow along blindly with whatever they learned in childhood or feel pressured by the larger culture or family to believe a certain way. One aspect of learning to be a “normal” eater is questioning how everything (yes, everything) affects your beliefs about food, eating, appearance, health, fitness, weight, nutrition, your body, emotions, purpose in life, empowerment, and self-worth.
Take a minute to reflect on whether your spirituality or non-spirituality contributes to your eating problems or to your recovery from them. Do your beliefs make it easier or harder to have a healthy relationship with food and your body? Do you engage in practices that support or hamper your ability to treat your body well and manage your eating effectively? Spirituality need not be an all-or-nothing affair. Recognize that you can choose the principles and beliefs which help recovery and discard the ones that hinder it.