I grew up going to Catholic Church every Sunday and CCD until I asked my mother in 8th grade if I could quit. I told her there were aspects of it that didn’t feel aligned with my beliefs and she agreed under the condition that my sister and I accompany her to the hippie church in the barn in the woods every Sunday. We complied.
I hold nothing against the church, or any organized religion. I am aware that many people derive deep healing and goodness from religion. My religion, however, wasn’t serving me. Little did I know I was already on a spiritual path in 8th grade and I recognized that the Catholic Church didn’t support that path.
I have had issues with my body since I was a child. My earliest memory was that my little puffy tummy was a problem. I prayed it would go away by the time I was a grown-up.
Fast forward to high school. I was tall and had body dysmorphia. I believed my body was unsightly.
By my first semester of college I developed bulimia nervosa. It felt like a completely normal thing to do as a means to having a sense of control. On the surface, I saw nothing wrong with the behaviors I was committing to.
My best friend and boyfriend at the time were the only ones who knew and they did everything they could to help but overall I isolated myself.
I lived in my mind: constantly calculating calories. I sought control over food and my body. But mostly I wanted control over every aspect of my life. Food and my body were the most attainable way to feel any semblance of control.
There is a lot from this dark period that I don’t remember. I’ve blocked it out for self-preservation. I was also so distracted by my obsessive mindset and behavior that I detached and disassociated from my body and college experience.
In college I found a yoga studio. I had been practicing yoga since age 16 but there was something about going to this no-frills studio that resembled the rituals of going to church but this time it felt right; it felt like a spiritual match.
No one said: a spiritual practice will heal you! But this is exactly what happened. As I practiced yoga regularly, I also grew my spirituality. I integrated yoga teachings into daily life.
When I learned the yogic practice of non-violence I saw my eating disorder as being brutally violent toward myself. I had to stop.
My primary concern for years was controlling my body/appearance since I couldn’t control the world around me. I was operating on a very small-minded level.
As soon as I decided I was going to heal from my eating disorder, I felt at ease. I surrendered and loosened my grip on control. My world-view expanded. I valued my intelligence, my passions, and my relationships. I felt like I was part of something greater than myself and my appearance.
This was over 12 years ago. Today yoga is still part of my spiritual practice. Today I walk in nature and connect to something greater than myself. I meditate and remember we transcend our bodies. I spend time with my dog and cats, friends and family, and revel in the relationships I cultivated. My spirituality is all around me and is in my daily life.
I’m not saying you need a spiritual practice to live a good life. I’m saying it worked for me. And it keeps me in recovery from my eating disorder, every day.
Maggie is a yoga guide, a body acceptance coach, and a mindful movement expert. An eating disorder warrior, she is dedicated to guiding others toward their own personal brilliance. She is based in Norwalk, CT.