Why do I eat this way?

A friend recommended the book, Women Food and God by Geneen Roth, and as I read it, I feel grateful that Ms. Roth has presented the challenging idea of healing our old wounds by facing ourselves directly in a compelling, accessible way. Simply put, she tells us that we can learn why we eat the way we do by paying attention to what’s happening in our bodies. Geneen* is a student of the Diamond Approach, a set of practices that have been around for thousands of years. She explains that the version she learned was body-based, and the practices she describes in her book are based on this approach.

I’m thoroughly enjoying this book; Geneen is a talented, entertaining writer.  I think this is going to become one of the books I recommend to clients — go read Geneen; she can explain this stuff better than I can, I imagine myself saying.

If you read this book, you’ll notice that she contrasts her practices with meditation:

I spent years in therapy, years in varioys kinds of meditation practice. I knew how to muck around in the wounds of my childhood and I knew how to transcend them, how to heal the pain of being abused and how to contact the part of me that was never abused. But when I got done meditating and soaring around in resplendence, I’d clunk back into the day-to-day world of my personality as if the two were not connected. Although carryover was one of the promised benefits of meditation, I was failing miserably. Put me in the middle of an argument and my thirty-minutes-a-day serenity was instantly replaced by my default, well-grooved beliefs…. Meditating was teaching me how to transcend my life, but I wanted to learn how to live in it. (Roth, p. 90-91)

She makes the excellent point here that practices that cultivate a blissful mind state don’t necessarily carry over well into daily life.  But mindfulness meditation, which focuses on our in-the-moment experience, does carry over into daily life. It’s a form of gentle inquiry that, over time, can help us understand our experience in a deeper way. It shines a light on all the feelings and beliefs underneath the thoughts and behavior that keep us stuck in ways of being that no longer serve us, such as numbing out and binge eating. And in this light of awareness, we are finally able to let those thoughts and feelings go. ( To watch a video of me explaining the difference between mindfulness mediation and concentration meditation, click here. )

The other point Geneen makes is that therapy didn’t get her into her body the way the Diamond Approach did.  While it’s true that many forms of therapy do not include an awareness of the body, approaches that do include the body are becoming more prevalent. Recent research in neurobiology continues to show the connection between mind and body and the importance of including an awareness of the body in psychotherapy. For example, I am about to being a two-year training in Somatic Transformation, an approach to therapy that combines depth psychology, neurobiology, and body-based techniques.  This training will build on my mindfulness-based understanding of the connection between body and mind.

I’m telling you all this because it’s important, I think, for people to know that there are therapists out there whose approaches are a good fit with the practices Geneen describes in her book.  So if you find yourself wanting someone to guide you in your inquiry, know that there are many of us who are ready and waiting to help you find your way.

* I use Ms. Roth’s first name in this post because reading this book feels like listening to a friend.

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