ID-10072652I’m not exactly sure when I began using food and eating as a way to take the edge off my anxieties about life. The depths of my memories offer up, “adolescence?” Sure. I’ll take that.

Yoga gave me the tools of what I call “emotional rehabilitation.” Emotional rehabilitation helps a person to learn to feel again. Instead of using whatever method we have of numbing out emotionally (in my case, food), we use the skills learned at yoga to feel the emotions, and to handle them. Instead of shutting as much out as possible, we open the window of tolerance, and learn to sit in it.

Yoga–combined with years of therapy–helped to unravel the knots inside of me that lead me to eat instead of feeling.

Now, standing on the far edge of a long journey that is by no means over, these are the things that I’ve noticed about my own feelings and behaviors. They might be guideposts to you as well.

  1. Once upon a time, eating was my answer to all difficult sensations. Even the need to sleep or rest, I mistook for the need to eat. Now, I’m able to sort out these different sensations. Tired emotionally? Get some alone time. Tired physically? Rest or sleep—don’t eat!
  1. I notice that sometimes when I feel inside and think about eating a food that used to make me happier, now I feel disappointed. This shows me that the incorrect connection between feelings and food has been (mostly) unhooked. Food can’t fix my emotions. Something else, out in the world will need to change to help fix my emotions.
  1. Snacking is no longer a satisfying way to evade nourishing eating or feeling. Now I know when I start to fall into a spiral of snacking, to check inside and find out a) do I need a real, full-on, sit-down meal or b) is something upsetting me.
  1. At parties, instead of hanging out by the chips and stuffing my face, I can face social anxiety head-on and do something about it.

It’s my personal opinion that we never actually completely “get over” these sorts of addictions. What we gain is actually much more useful than complete recovery: the skill of self-awareness. With this skill, you can handle just about any life challenge that comes your way.

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