- Carolyn Costin
Mindfulness= Being present with openness, acceptance and non-judgment
Having an element of Mindfulness as part of an overall treatment strategy for people with eating disorders can no longer be referred to as the “fluffy stuff of treatment. Research has shown that mindfulness can enhance affect regulation, increase response flexibility and improve tension tolerance among other things.
Don’t let that last sentence pass you by like an academic statement with no real meaning.
Lets look again…..Mindfulness practices can:
enhance affect regulation…helps you deal with your emotions in appropriate ways
increase response flexibility…, increases your ability to choose how to “respond” rather than just “react”
improve tension tolerance…. the higher your tension tolerance the more strength you have to absorb stress, conflict, and difficulty without breaking down.
Now, having re-read those three things, I’m sure you get why teaching mindfulness skills to those with eating disorders makes sense. You don’t have to be a meditate to practice mindfulness. You have to have some way of practicing, “Being present with openness, acceptance and non-judgment.” Mindfulness practices can be anything from breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or a silent walk in nature. I learned and benefitted from these practices myself and since then I have been teaching, or at least exposing, my clients to them with profound results.
I share two personal “Mindfulness Agreements” that clients of mine wrote, to impart, from the clients themselves, the importance of including some kind of mindfulness training as a part of the recovery journey.
I now realize I always have a choice - a choice of how I will respond to my circumstances in any moment, if I can stay present enough to be aware of them.
I choose how I will live my life: what my work is, who I am in relationships with, what I value and give my time to. That is a very empowering idea - even though in it I am responsible and accountable.
I now have the knowledge that if it is not possible to live a mindful life in my present circumstances, then I have to change them.
I now want to notice my physical circumstances - my physical self interacting with the earth - more often. To appreciate the smells and tastes - to appreciate my body - It's all what my mind makes of it. I choose to no longer search for ways to be miserable. I deserve to be happy and my soul desires happiness.
In my old, mostly eating disorder, self I could have never imagined that I would have the ability to be mindful.
I was so wrapped up in my food, exercise, and rigid daily life that there was no room for all that encompasses mindfulness: openness, acceptance, non-judgment, and being present. Yet, I am sitting here today with the ability to be open, accepting, non- judgmental, present.
Therefore I agree to be mindful, to keep practicing bringing myself back to the present, to be open and flexible, to not judge and to accept others but especially myself (the hardest person to do this with.) I don't ever foresee myself as meditating on a daily basis but I can see myself practicing mindfulness .....to most of all, set aside all of my eating disorder thoughts and behaviors so that I can experience joy and live my life!