Tag Archives: healing

How Spiritual Practice Guided Me Into Eating Disorder Recovery

This was originally posted 9/28/17 on Nonpoliticalnews.com as “How Yoga Saved Me From Myself.”

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.

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When someone offers to help you up a mountain … Let them!

For that first incredibly difficult rock to climb on the Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Chris literally extended his hand to me as an offering of assistance.

 

To help me up because CLEARLY I was struggling.

 

But nope. I would NOT TAKE HIS HAND. I would not take his help. I had to do it myself.

 

I was pissed at myself. I was on the verge of tears (on the side on a fucking mountain.) I was pissed at Chris for trying to help me.

 

Didn’t he believe I could do it on my own??? (Nope. I clearly could not and needed help but had no idea how to ask… or receive for that matter.)

 

I stubbornly wrestled my way up the rock and in doing so, banged my right shin really hard (I now have a bruise covering half my shin.)

 

You can’t shut down like that. I’m offering you my hand and you are just shutting down.

 

Holy shit. He was so right.

 

As much as I hated to admit it, he hit the nail on the head.

 

My eyes welled with tears when he said this because it wasn’t just about climbing steep rocks and mountains.

 

All my life I don’t like the way it feels when someone helps me. At least when I’m not asking them for help.

 

It’s like they’re telling me I’m not doing a good enough job.

It feels like they’re bossing me around or trying to control me or tell me what to do.

 

And I DO NOT like being told what to do.

 

Where does this come from? {I ask myself…} Why do you so hate being told what to do? Why are you so resistant to help?

 

Is there a belief that needing help means I am not enough…

It means that I am not strong enough…

It means that I should already know. I should already have the answers.

 

But I don’t have the answers. I don’t always need to know everything. And I can’t do everything on my own.

 

And therefore there’s an old story in me where desperately needing help means I have failed.

 

So… needing help means I failed.

Needing help means I am a failure.

 

For the rest of the trip with Chris, I accepted his extended hand or trekking pole. Almost every single time he offered.

 

And I noticed this:

 

Not only did it become easier to accept assistance, but I started to trust him way way way more.

So … there is a correlation between receiving help and trusting others.

 

Receiving help = trusting others.

 

That they have my best interests in mind. Or that they (in this case Chris) just want to help because they straight up love you and want wonderful things for you.

 

They want to help because they straight up LOVE you.

 

Not because they expect anything in return.

 

Not because they secretly want to push you off the ledge (that only happens in action movies.)

 

Not because they have an ulterior motive.

 

No… the motive is love.

 

The motivation is LOVE. Giving love. Receiving love. Exchanging love.

 

THAT my friend is unconditional love.

 

And it’s unconditional love to accept a loving hand. To receive it with your full body, heart, and soul.

 

THIS is uncovering an old belief. And setting it free to make room for a new belief. We are going to do tons of this kind of stuff in my Fall Mentorship. There are very few spots available so as to keep it an intimate group. So I highly recommend taking a look and signing up if this sounds like you!!!

Fall mentorship link>>> http://www.maggieconversemethod.com/events/2017/9/15/fall-mentorship

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Why I’m Grateful 2017 Started With a Migraine

After 2 days in bed with a migraine I had a really long meditation this morning. And something occurred to me: I avoid planning the big stuff that my heart desires and I avoid taking steps toward being more successful because I sometimes have a “what’s the point?” mindset. I am afraid I’ll to live like this for the rest of my life. Getting migraines, checking out of life for a few days. And so I commit to just enough… because why would anybody trust me? Why would I commit to workshops? To helping others heal? When I am so screwed.

It’s difficult to explain a migraine. I believe Joan Didion describes it best in her essay “In Bed:”

Once an attack is under way, however, no drug touches it. Migraine gives some people mild hallucinations, temporarily blinds others, shows up not only as a headache but as a gastrointestinal disturbance, a painful sensitivity to all sensory stimuli, an abrupt overpowering fatigue, a stroke-like aphasia, and a crippling inability to make even the most routine connections. When I am in a migraine aura (for some people the aura lasts fifteen minutes, for others several hours), I will drive through red lights, lose the house keys, spill whatever I am holding, lose the ability to focus my eyes or frame coherent sentences, and generally give the appearance of being on drugs, or drunk. The actual headache, when it comes, brings with it chills, sweating, nausea, a debility that seems to stretch the very limits of endurance. That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.

Suffice it to say I feel depressed while in the throes of a migraine. I am completely disconnected from the rest of the world. I am in survival mode. It is a huge undertaking sometimes just to get comfortable. And there is that period of 1-3 hours at the apex of the migraine where I am at a total loss. I question going to the ER. I question how the heck am I going to make it. I cry because I don’t understand the returning question: Why me?

Something shifted in the first migraine of 2017. It wasn’t any less intense. I was debilitated. Barely capable of answering texts and had to ask my neighbor to walk my dog Daisy. What shifted is I was able to allow myself to go through it. I still had the panic of the apex but I allowed it to happen instead of fighting, resisting, or willing it to just end.

And when I sat in meditation this morning I felt it: I’ve been allowing migraines to run my life. Not just when I have them, but when I don’t have them: I am afraid of making plans and having to break them. I am afraid of being judged by others when I cancel on them for the 6th time in 2 months. In my professional life I am afraid of hosting a retreat by myself because what if, god forbid, I get a migraine and cannot fulfill my commitment to a few dozen people?

I’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years now, health coaching for nearly 5, and now I’m practicing Reiki. And what I realize is I’ve been afraid of becoming more successful for fear I’ll be found out by more people that I suffer from migraines and am a canceler. Or that I am untrustworthy and I’ll lose students and clients.

I relaxed into this last migraine as much as possible. Turning off email, NOT checking social media, and texting or calling people only when absolutely necessary. It took a lot of the pressure off and I treated this migraine like an extended meditation. I kept telling myself “You don’t have to be anything other than YOU. In whatever way that shows up. Right now. It’s OK.”

I reminded myself what these migraines teach me: to have the utmost empathy for other people’s pain. In all the various ways pain can show up.

I’m not feeling disheartened or down by my realization. Instead it’s something to work through. 

It’s actually a relief to be able to see and articulate. I see it as momentum forward in understanding myself better. And I see that I have a choice: I can stick with the “what’s the point” mindset OR I can create a new mindset through new thoughts and new beliefs.

I’m choosing the latter.

 

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My ME-ness Is More Powerful Than a Wrinkle On My Forehead

There were three of us in the room Monday night at the eating disorder recovery center. Two students, plus me. Something about all our energies combined made for a very sweet vibration in the room that night. The electronic candles were scattered around the makeshift altar and I had soothing spa-like music playing on my Beats Pill.

The woman with the flowing grey hair wore a shirt with a radish on it. We started off the class in lighthearted banter talking about “trigger clothing” and how her radish (or turnip depending on how you looked at it) shirt managed to escape the search when she was first admitted to the center a couple months ago.

It escapes me what theme I gravitated to for this particular practice because what stands out so much is what it felt like to be in that room with them, and what happened after our class…

I taught them but I received so much. It felt effortless to guide the two women through a series of seated poses, to all fours, back to a seat, and finally to a restorative pose where they were able to luxuriate for over 10 minutes.

I closed the practice by giving them some reiki and felt extremely moved by both women’s willingness to be so open and vulnerable with me.

After I called them back to their bodies, the space, the breath, and the two sat up, one woman turned to the other woman and said:

“I have to say that you just looked so beautiful in that twisted pose,” as she emulated the flowing grey haired woman’s posture and demeanor.

She continued:

“You looked so confident and proud.”

“The next time I see you slouching around the house I’m going to remind you what you’re capable of,” she said with a laugh.

I refrained from any kind of commentary on this exchange I was fortunate to witness and just allowed it to happen, amazed for one by my student’s ability to see another woman with such high regard. To lift her up instead of compare.

The confident and proud woman RECEIVED the compliment with such grace and humility. She then in turn said how she’s going to sign up for yoga when she returns home. How it has changed her. How she now finds a new engagement and fascination with her own body and how it moves and works in a multitude of ways.

“Like if I move my right hip a little wider I feel stronger and then my shoulders can broaden,” she explained.

Oh my goddess I was in heaven just listening to this. I didn’t need to direct them. I didn’t need to insert my own feelings on the subject. These two women had learned so much, had grown leaps and bounds. I just watched them taking what they were learning and letting it rip!

Now I just have to keep believing that yoga has an incredible ability to support women in their path to recovery from eating disorders.

I’ve said this so many times before in earlier blog posts but … Yoga Healed Me.

Just a few weeks ago I found myself talking to a friend who is 4 years sober and found sobriety and recovery through the amount of time he spends outdoors: hiking, climbing, camping, you name it. I found myself thinking about how we all have such individual healing and recovery paths.

In those early years of recovery when I was at my worst I never went to treatment, barely spoke to a therapist (I can count – it was 3 sessions), and didn’t even tell a medical doctor about my bulimia until years after the worst was over.  

This isn’t to say these are not viable, successful options for recovery. It is my belief that they are.

For me though my path was, and still is, yoga. (It should be noted that in the 10 or so years since the worst of my eating disorder I have integrated therapy and life coaching among other healing modalities onto my path and I include this information in every health history I complete).

First yoga was about understanding my body better. Much like my dear student who found fascination with the movement of her hips, I started to love the way my body moved. I loved my thighs for how strong they were.

These days it keeps hitting me that my yoga practice has illuminated a path toward a deeper understanding of this:

I am not just my body or my cellulite or my round tummy. Nor am I just how well my clothes fit. I am not just my migraines. I am not just my relationship to food. I am not just my eating disorder. And, as much as my ego hates to admit it, I am not just my personality. My Maggie-ness, my ME-ness transcends AND encompasses all of that. My ME-ness is part of a universal energy that is so much larger and more powerful than a wrinkle on my forehead.

There is still an infinite amount of understanding and learning and knowing I have left to do. And because this is something that feels very big and infinite and scary and exciting, I’m going to pause. Let this marinade and … To be continued…

With Love,

Maggie

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I share my story because: HOPE

Wednesday night I arrived at the eating disorder recovery center 10 minutes early. I set up my electric candles, lit palo santo, and turned on soft music. We practice in one of the therapist’s office and it helps to have some items to spark the senses and shift the energy.

The house was full that night – 6 women, ages 19 to 58, and they were all in attendance for class. There was a buzzing energy. They seemed in good spirits. They seemed excited.

As they set up their mats and props the more outspoken women announced they were all on the same exercise level and informed me they could MOVE more. I nodded, said OK.

We talked about the day as we all settled in and took our seats. I had them take a deep breath, close their eyes, and asked for a one word check-in from each.

I heard:

Insecure…

Frustrated…

Numb…

Sick…

Excited…

And then I heard:
Maggie, last time you were here, you said you went through something [eating disorder]… it helped me a lot to hear that. Can you tell us more?

I felt like the librarian at story time. I opened my eyes and looked at her. I said of course.

I told them they could open their eyes if they liked. I told them I had an eating disorder. I told them it was serious 10 years ago. That was my bottom. I told them I never received formal or clinical help beyond a few visits to a therapist. I felt misunderstood. I only told my boyfriend at the time and best friend. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone. I felt so much shame.

But, I said, I felt safe in one space. All the time. And that was in my yoga practice.

I told them recovery is not linear. That I had several setbacks. Not necessarily becoming bulimic again but severe anxiety, bouts with mild depression, and then most recently I started using excessive exercise to curtail my weight and had to put the brakes on endurance training and racing for a while until I could create homeostasis with that.

You see, I told them, recovery is not a one and done deal as I’m sure you know.

It’s a daily commitment to yourself. Letting go of the shame about my eating disorder was a huge part of recovery too. Being able to write about it and talk about it openly is part of recovery.

They nodded in agreement.

Another woman chimed in:

It’s so helpful to hear you say that and then to see you standing here in front of us. Like you’re using your story to help other people. You made it.

It gives us hope, she said.

I realized in that moment that for these women before me, hearing my story was as empowering if not more than learning any yoga pose. But what spending 10 minutes at the beginning of this class did for our asana practice was powerful. I saw more smiles, felt more energy, and gained more of their trust than ever before.

By being vulnerable, I instantly felt a deeper connection with these women. They knew I understood what it feels like to be in their shoes. They knew I understood shame. About my body and about my story. And they knew it was possible to move through it and beyond.

Leaving class Wednesday night I felt an exchange between myself and the 6 women. We gave each other incredible gifts. I gave them hope, and in return they listened, they lit up, and they reminded me to keep sharing my story. That I am on the right path. And I choose every day to keep on going.

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I remember…

I remember..

Ballet class.

And trying to squeeze into my pink tights and black leotard.

I remember…

How the tights made an impression around my belly, that no leotard, skirt, or dance shorts could hide. To my great disappointment.

I remember sucking in my stomach because I believed having any kind of belly made me overweight and therefor “bad.”

I worried that I was the biggest girl in class.

I remember comparing myself to the other girls.

I wished I had slimmer, streamlined bodies like theirs.

I remember looking in the mirror and seeing a flailing mess of a 10 year old girl.

And when I think back to this girl who hated the sight of herself so much, I give her a soft pat on the back and a giant hug. I tell her she is enough, exactly as she is. Smart enough. Strong enough. Beautiful enough.

I tell her it’s ok to have the extra cookie at snack time. She’ll grow into her body and one day look back at photos of herself and be amazed by what a dancing fool she was!

I tell the 10 year old version of me that one day she won’t care about doing sit-ups or eliminating all the fat from her body. And that it’s gonna feel so freeing!

And she’s going to look to other women for support and inspiration, instead of comparing herself.

This is a small part of my story. And I can’t help but think, some of it might resonate with you. Or your children. It’s why I created my Raising Role Models program.

Where we, as adults, provide the best opportunity possible for the children and youth in our lives to grow up with self-esteem and healthy body image.

Please take a look at the mini training I put together. In it I offer 3 shifts you can make TODAY, on your own that will shift not only your own body image, but also your child’s.

Click here to watch my Raising Role Models video.

And if you’d like to learn a little more, I encourage you to sign up for a free call with me this week by clicking the link below.

Click here for your free call with me.

With love, always,
MC

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What is the purpose of our deepest emotions?

Our deepest and darkest emotions are not merely to put us in an everlasting state of sadness.

How many times have you experienced pain only to ask: Why? Or … Why me?

We don’t experience pain simply for pain’s sake.

Osho explains this concept very eloquently:

This pain is not to make you sad, remember this is where people go on missing… this pain is just to make you more alert – because people become alert only when the arrow goes deep into their heart and wounds them.

Take a moment and consider the moments in your life that have really moved you. Pushed you forward on your journey.

It might have been the end of a relationship, a death, a betrayal, or financial struggle.

But what happens when the arrow pierces us deeply in our heart?

If we are open to it, we become more alert and wake up to the world around us and the gifts the universe has in store for us.

We make decisions based on what will truly serve us, help us heal, shift us away from unhealthy patterns.

And sometimes we do need the arrow to go deep to become more alert. Sometimes we do need the wound to wake up.

When we are more alert we become connected to our truth instead of our ego.

And when we connect with truth over ego, our slate gets wiped clean and we see things more clearly. Our path is less clouded by the weeds of distractions and priorities come into alignment.

So the next time you are confronted with pain, or even discomfort, sit with it and see where it takes you. Allow it to wake you up to something perhaps you’ve never truly seen before.

May our learning never end.

With Great Love,
MC

PS. Click here if you’d like to schedule a discovery call with me. I’ve got time slots blocked out for the next week or so and would love to connect one-on-one with you.

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Opening Up About My Experience in Relationships

This morning I woke up feeling shitty.
Migraine and broken hearted.
Not just over my most recent split, but all of them.
There is a voice in me saying – come clean.
You’ve hidden all of this for far too long to keep it up and put on a brave face.
My heart is full of scars that have not fully healed and it’s coming to a head.

All of it.
The men. The relationships.
The stories I’ve clung to that have built up resentment.
The roles I not only played but also identified with.

Whenever a relationship took a turn for the worse, I’d turn to food or controlling my appearance somehow [running, over-exercising, or dieting].
I focused on: how do I control?
Instead of: How do I leave room to heal?
It was always brush it under the rug.
Drop them. Drop him.
Let him go.

Well, I did let him go. Every time.
Maybe a little too much.
I moved right on to the next one. Without a second thought.

But the residual pain clung tightly – wrapped around my heart.
Tighter and tighter as time passed.

And it brings me to right now.
Piles of relationships and breakups never fully processed.
All of the pain is coming to the surface.

I bounce from one memory to the next in my dreams and in meditation.
Uncovering decisions I make now that are based on past experiences.
Not always proud of the way I treated people.
Often wishing I’d let myself be single and process.
And witnessing the shame I feel about not processing these break-ups the “right way.”

Now I’m processing them in my way.
On my terms.
In my own time.
I’m giving these experiences the attention they deserved.
Maybe they should have received this attention years ago.
But I’m here now and doing the best I can.

I’m grateful that something in my last relationship called this to my attention.
Maybe because of the mild depression I felt in the springtime.
A clear indication that there was pain that had not been dealt with.
Maybe because I started finding my voice and stepping into my power.
For the first time clearly articulating my deepest desires.

This is not easy stuff to share.
The easy way would be to brush it under the rug and keep the notes in my journal and tell the world “I’m fine.”
The more difficult path is doing this: share.
Share and tell my truth.
Stop withholding from the world and from myself.

Because … Why on earth would we ever cover up any parts of ourselves?

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Caring for the cracks in my heart

Sometimes I feel like I just keep banging my head against the wall.

I make the same mistake over and over again and wonder how many times until I get it?

Until I stop?

Until something changes?

Maybe the change has to first be my mindset.

Where I understand the mistakes to take on a new meaning.

These mistakes are actually lessons.

The lessons test, and often break, my heart.

And in the end they make me more resilient.

My recovery time gets shorter.

Maybe they are lessons to grieve past trauma I’ve buried deep.

Because we can’t truly heal unless we go through a grieving process…

Unless we feel all the feels.

Process all the things.

And digest.

Assimilate.

The heart gets cracked open each time I am vulnerable.

And the way to mend the cracks [and make them stronger] is through love and taking care of myself.

It is in this way that I can be of service to those closest to me and to this world.

If I don’t tend to and care for the cracks, I cannot serve from a place of deep love and compassion.

I know I’m here to serve, so I’m going to continue caring for the cracks.

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