Can changing how we digest our emotions liberate us from eating disorders?
Researchers from HeartMath have not only identified the missing x-factor in eating disorders and other addictions, but they have also given us a way to fill the void we try to fill with food by teaching us to listen to ourselves and soothe our stress with the self regulation and self reflection capacities of our own hearts.
Heart power is completely different from will power. Unlike will power, which calls us to force ourselves to conform to external dietary and exercise regimens even if they don't feel good (that’s stressful, and not sustainable), heart power puts us in touch with the feel good we can access from inner balance, helping us hear what it is that we really need and act on it. There is even a technology called Inner Balance that helps us see our heart rhythms in real time and know that we are making that shift to a balanced state inside. When we are balanced internally, then we can hear what stress is telling us we really need rather than mechanically reaching for a substance or compulsive behavior to make the feeling of stress go away. Sometimes instead of food, or instead of controlling our food intake, we need water, or a nap, or a bath, or a talk with a friend, or a break from work. Heart power manifests as listening to ourselves, and our bodies, rather than prescribing what they should do and then inevitably rebelling.
How do we access the power of the heart to stop eating disorders for good? HeartMath has a six-week course called The Stopping Emotional Eating Program that teaches us in a step-by-step way to do exactly that. With no other interventions, participants in HeartMath's studies dropped their stress hormone cortisol by 23 percent in just four weeks using the skills they learned, and after six weeks showed:
- Significant 5.2 pound average weight reduction
- Average waist size reduced by 2.1 inches
- Average hip circumference reduced by 1.78 inches
- Calmness significantly increased
- Anger, resentfulness and stress significantly reduced
The most important thing that came out of this study from my perspective was that because people were befriending their feelings, their bodies and food, they didn't just lose physical weight. They gained a better relationship to themselves, their work, their loved ones, and their lives.
You don't need a six-week program to start accessing the power of you heart and the benefits it brings to befriend yourself. Here are three keys you can apply right now to go to your heart rather than the fridge to feel better:
- Key #1: Trade in self-judgment, criticism and "all-or-nothing" perfectionism for self-appreciation and compassion. Remember that your behavior pattern doesn’t make you weak or stupid. It's been your way to try to feel better and take care of yourself.
Key #2: Go inside rather than outside to center and self soothe. Two quick steps HeartMath gives us in order to accomplish that, are put together in a tool called The Quick Coherence Technique®:
STEP 1: Heart Focused Breathing
Focus your attention in the area around your heart while breathing a little more slowly than you usually do.
STEP 2: Heart Feeling
Activate a feeling of gratitude, love, care or compassion for someone or something in your life that matters to you. Make sure to include yourself!
- Key #3: Listen to your inner guidance and act on it. Ask yourself, "What do I really need right now?"
When you apply these three keys you break free of the compulsion loop:
FREEDOM FROM THE COMPULSION LOOP
- The loop begins with stress
- Stress leads to the need to feel in control or the need for comfort and self-soothe. Where we will reach for that?
- Reach for it inside your own heart. Listen to your feelings and effectively respond to what they tell you that you need, rather than suppressing and numbing them or judging and trying to control them.
- This leads to building greater intimacy with yourself and others, where you find inner peace, well-being and balance, and gain access to your inner guidance system that leads you to fulfill your needs and free your energy to enjoy more of your life!
To learn more about the science behind heart power, and more methods by which you can go to your heart instead of your old habits so that you can overcome eating disorders and other addictions, watch this complimentary 90-minute webinar or sign up for a free consultation with a licensed Stopping Emotional Eating Coach.
HeartMath® is a registered trademark of the Institute of HeartMath. The Quick Coherence Technique® is a registered trademark of Doc Childre.