In the United States alone, over 24 million people are thought to suffer from eating disorders. Eating disorders can look many different ways and affect men and women both, but especially affect women, in part because the media’s standard for an “ideal female body” is possessed only by about 5% of women naturally. * Eating disorders coincidence with depression in nearly 50% of the cases and only about 10% of people suffering from eating disorders ever get treatment. It is thought that 25% of college women are using bulimia as a means of weight control. To say that eating disorders are an epidemic is putting it lightly. They are a national crisis. Chances are, if you are reading this, you or someone you know has an eating disorder.
If you or someone you know are suffering one of the conditions below, please share this information with them. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, and you just might save a life.
I have lived with them in some form or another for much of my life, and I can tell you that my suggestions below are born out of experience not only as a Kundalini yoga teacher but also as a survivor.
1) For all Eating Disorders
Try the Guided Meditation for Positive Body Image on my album Stress Relief Meditations. I created this for myself to heal the wounds of years of self-loathing and remind myself to love my physical form. It works. It also can be helpful to share with people who are not Kundalini yogis and might be resistant to some of the other practices and can be used with any form of eating disorder as a general tool.
2) Binge Eating Disorder — Left Nostril Breathing
An estimated 2-5% of Americans will experience Binge Eating Disorder in their lifetime. Yogi Bhajan shared Left Nostril Breathing as a tool to stop this pattern, which he said was an imbalance and hyperactivity of a certain part of the brain.
To practice, simply sit comfortably, preferably in easy pose, and close your eyes. Block off your right nostril and breathing in and out long and deep through your left nostril only. Continue for 31 minutes. Do this for 90 days to truly change your patterns.
This meditation can be found in Praana, Praanee, Praanayam.
2) Anorexia — Sat Kriya
Anorexia is a disease of self-annihilation. It is the third most common chronic disease among adolescents. It is a disease of wanting to vanish and cease to live. Building up your navel center and affirming your right to live is key. Try Sat Kriya as a way to remind your body, mind and spirit that you deserve to live and that you are powerful and strong and can turn things around.
3) Bulimia — Meditation for Self-Love
Bulimia is often tied to wanting to punish the self and strong feelings of self-loathing. Up to 4% of American woman have Bulimia in their lifetime. To stop the vicious cycle of binge and purge, creating a narrative of self-love instead of self-hate within is vital. There is a Kundalini yoga meditation to create self-love that is challenging and uplifting, below. If you can do the meditation, you discover how strong you are. When you discover how strong you are, you can find the strength to overcome your personal demons.
You can also try my Guided Meditation for Self-Love on Journey into Stillness, or share it with someone who is not ready for such a challenging meditation as the one above.
5) Chanting Mantra — Bountiful am I, Beautiful am I, Blissful am I
Eating disorders are accompanied by a very negative narrative inside one’s head. “I’m too fat, I’m too ugly, I’m not enough, I’m horrible, I’m disgusting” are some of the thoughts that swirl around over and over in a disordered mind. One of the most powerful ways to change this is to replace the thoughts. The mind can only think one sentence at a time. If you chant a mantra like “Bountiful am I, Beautiful am I, Blissful am I” over and over, while you are singing, you can’t be repeating “I’m too fat, I’m gross, I’m disgusting”, so it gives your mind a break and your soul a chance to breathe. Eventually if you can chant these words enough, you begin to believe them and some of the burden of the mental narrative lightens. Try singing this mantra to yourself. Fake it until you make it, someone once said, and just remember there’s no shame in starting right where you are.
Try Harnam’s version on A Fearless Heart.
Remember nothing is an overnight fix, but you’re not alone and there are many people out there rooting for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to me on my website www.ramdesh.com or seek out the aid of organizations Eat, Breathe, Thrive that specialize in using yoga to help people with eating disorders nationwide.
* All stats from the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders