I used to think that I needed to earn my food for the holidays. I would spend months and months restricting my intake, so that I could allow myself a once a year treat. I would arrive famished and in my mind deserving of a holiday break, hoping my empty stomach would buy me some peace of mind.
Despite my preparations, after dinner, while others spent time around the fire eating another cookie, I would be bloated and dealing both with stomach pain and a mind that would not shut up.
It was madness inside – it felt like I was being pulled in a dozen directions. On one hand I was feeling happy that I got to enjoy something delicious, on the other, I was already planning my next diet, so that I could balance the “damage” I had done. I had barely enjoyed dinner, my body felt heavy and weighted down and my mind was absolutely obsessed with what I was going to do to feel better. I didn’t want to be in pain, but also told myself I was to blame. It wasn’t how I wanted to live and yet, I didn’t know a way out.
Today, I know well why I wasn’t able to enjoy any of the holiday activities whether they were associated with food or not. My body was such an intense focus of my life, that my preoccupation with how I looked and what I ate changed my whole way of being. I traveled, arrived, cooked, decorated, set tables, talked to relatives and ate in a state of extreme pressure and tension – my heart racing, my stomach tied up in a knot, my mind buzzing.
I knew that if I slowed down it might help, so I would try to be mindful about the food in front of me, and pay attention to colors, textures and taste, but the contraction and feelings of doom were like a constant background noise. I was mindful, but my body was frozen, with a good measure of anxiety on top. The cocktail of fear of food, mistrusting my body, feeling bad about how I felt, and desperately wanting it to be different was a holiday special, indeed.
My parents at the time were quite concerned, but I would take anything they said and used it to beat myself up. “It’s just once a year, what’s the big deal?” sounded like a jab at my obsessiveness, “Live a little” was a reminder that I wasn’t living and “I made it just for you…” – that one added to the feelings of ungratefulness and not feeling good enough. Oh my!
Fast forward 10 years and I am finding myself quite able to enjoy holiday food and desserts. I am free of thoughts and worries about food or how it will impact my body, in fact I know, and I trust, that my body will be just fine. Food and the holidays today are a source of celebration and joy, and no longer a source of pain, shame and suffering.
What changed in the past 10 years isn’t necessarily my mindset or how I view or accept my body. What’s changed is that I live with much less pressure, self-rejection and shame. I am grateful for over a decade of somatic practice that has allowed me to access true ease and well-being, which were barely a mirage when I was in a survival state.
Today, both in my own body and as a somatic professional, I know that it’s not what we eat, it’s the state of our bodies that determines how we feel when we eat.
I wanted to create a webinar that supports you to do the same – to understand your nervous system, to know your body intimately from the inside out, and to be able to practice the same somatic tools that allowed me to land in a body and a life that allow peace with self and peace with food.
This time I am not teaching alone, I have invited a guest expert on shame – my Somatic Experiencing colleague Rena K. Bauman.
We came up with the idea of this workshop while she was assisting me in the Tender Art of Receiving Retreat this year. We found shame is really misunderstood in the world of nervous system healing and that all of us who have a history of food suffering have also struggled with shame.
Her work is remarkable, because instead of focusing on the narrative of shame, she is able to guide her students out of shame the same way it entered – through the body and the physiology.
Her incredible ability to explain the biology of shame and also offer you the skills to find a different way of being will be a captivating part of our learning – and I am excited for you to meet her soon!
I hope you join us as we create a holiday season of ease and less shame!
You can learn more and sign up here or by clicking the image below!