Anorexia Nervosa is a very sad and pervasive, almost insidious disease, but we see it more as ‘dis-ease’ of the body, but more accurately the being. It’s a difficult scenario.
A dis-ease of a community?
We see each individual made up as a community. A community for four main aspects:
- The Body
- The Mind
- The Emotions
- and Spirit.
All these aspects make up one person and there can be disagreement between these different aspects or dissonance if you like, and these are real, tormenting and confusing, exhausting for the individual. When it comes to ‘Anorexia Nervosa’ all aspects of the community need to be addressed.
A lot of the time in western medicine and mainstream healing treatments and practices they might focus on one or the other, or on a couple but often the one that is forgotten is the spiritual. That’s often forgotten in this case because it is such a physical experience, it’s right there and it’s in the view of everybody, hard to escape really. Western medicine knows that there is an emotional and a mental aspect to it and it’s really there in the physical. It’s so apparent that the spiritual often gets left, not even considered. It’s easy to forgive this, as it’s such an intense physical experience and emotionally confusing, even torturing.
When we refer to the term spiritual, we are not talking about religion or philosphies like Buddhism, we are talking about the spirit at an individual level, and that’s the really key point here. For lots of people with anorexia nervosa, it’s as if the physical and the spirit have separated.
In reality that has not happened, but for the individual, they feel very detached. They feel, sort of separate, that they can’t be this in the world. It’s like they are not being able to be in the world and function, and they literally ‘cease to exist’. Ceasing to exist physically, because they start to lose weight so physically, they become nothing and that’s the same with their emotions and their mental. They are actually trying to make themselves ‘not exist’. Some literally fade away.
That’s like the separation for them and it’s like a separation of the spirit and the physical and it like for them it doesn’t exist, that there’s no connection there.
So, what is really important is that you try to rebuild that connection, try to get them back into that spirit.
So we start working with the spirit, to help them to find that connection so that they know that they one part of a much bigger, all-encompassing, completely fulfilling existence, not separate from that, not on their own, not able to be in the world. It’s there, but you have to get them to connect with it.
Now when we say this, it doesn’t mean that the person will not be anorexic, does not mean that they will die from it, but it’s better that they are connected with the spirit if they die, if that’s what it comes to. Do you understand? We understand these are firm words.
Additionally, we are not saying that they can be cured just because we connect them with the spirit, there is a whole lot of other things that have to be done here on the individual level. It’s not just about them connecting with spirit and then they will be alright again, we still have to deal with the physical, the mental, and emotional, but this connection for the spirit and it is very important for the individual, the community of one for the anorexic individual.
So once they can connect with the spirit, then it’s much easier to connect with the community on that physical level because that’s where they feel detached. That’s where they often feel they can’t be in that world, that they are not acceptable, they are not good enough, whatever it is that has drawn them to this anorexia.
But if they can feel the connection to the spirit on an individual level so that they are whole, then they can be a ‘whole’ member of whatever community – family, friends, school, work, whatever.
That’s really why we want to get them to this connection of the spirit so they can see that they are whole, because for them this detached-ness from the spirit drives this innate feeling that they are not whole. In reality, they are not detached from the spirit but because they don’t feel whole, good enough, or enough even, they have this feeling of detached-ness not just from the community, but from the spirit.
So that’s why you really want to get that connection to the spirit together for them so that then they can say, ‘Oh, I am whole!’.
If I am whole, then I am a whole member of my community and then it’s easier for them to be able to acknowledge their wholeness, their enough-ness and as a result of that, that means that you just can’t deal with the individual, like you start with them and you get them to that connective-ness with their spirit so that they can become connected with their community on a physical level but you have to work with the community – their closest community, the one that they are absolutely involved in is the family – that’s where you go.
If they are in other communities whether it be school or whatever, you have to go there as well. At the very start we mentioned that because Anorexia Nervosa is so pervasive and insidious, it’s not just the individual right? It’s like it’s got tendrils and these go out, the effect people and these people mostly don’t or won’t don’t know it. That’s why it’s insidious. They don’t know that it is affecting them necessarily, and, when we say affecting them, we are not talking about the actual Anorexia Nervosa, we are talking about this detached-ness, not enough-ness, the separation, this lack of community. Anorexia Nervosa breeds a lack of community.
You can have a family putting all of their energy into this individual, doesn’t mean that they are not together, but they will feel a separate-ness because they are putting all of the energy into this individual, they are separating themselves from their neighbours maybe or from other family members because you only have so much energy as a human being.
Maybe they are pouring all of their energy into this one child and they have other children that they are unwittingly being neglected because of this. So, there is separate-ness, there is detachment. That’s what this Anorexic Nervosa does and that’s why you have to start with the individual. Supporting also are these other practices are in place to heal the physical, the mental, and the emotional, but the spirit, don’t forget that.
And again, we are not talking religion, we are talking ‘spirit’ and once you can get that individual to really understand that connection within them, that they are really whole because of it, then that’s when you go to the closest community and you start to work with them and you start to get them back to connected-ness, back to being connected with their own spirit with the people that are with them.
With this child perhaps, or their mother, or the sister whatever, with the person to be connected with them because they will have been separating themselves, slowly fading into non-existence and you are trying to grab at them all the time: ‘Stay with us, Stay with us!’.
It’s really a matter of getting that separate-ness and getting rid of it. Separating yourself from separate-ness and becoming a community again and the way to do that, yes there are the physical, emotional and mental but this situation, the connection with spirit, that spiritual connection is the most important part because when you are connected with spirit: If you just imagine that spirit is just a blanket over all of humanity. If you are connected with that, then what are you connected with? All of humanity, right?
So, it is not a matter of religion, that’s not what we are talking about. We are not talking to you about going to church and being on your knees for hours and hours praying. If that’s what you want and find yourself there – your connected-ness then that is great, good. That is not what we are talking about alone though, there are lots of ways to be connected with spirit and really what we are saying is that you are connected with that collective consciousness which is not just human but is energy, is that cosmic energy, that spirit that everybody knows or has this feeling about and once you’ve connected with that, you have connected with everybody.
So then, you can really feel this connected-ness within your small community, then you can take it out to the bigger community if that is what you want to do. Maybe though, that healing may be able to take place in that small community but, if that individual has driven themselves and feels so separated and detached from community that they have driven themselves into this physical state of Anorexia Nervosa, take them out of their very secure community, their family let’s say, put them into some other community, they may revert.
That means you have to work on the communities that they are going to be involved in until that person is strong enough to really stand for themselves in that community and understand their whole-ness.
This is a long path.
Anorexia Nervosa as we said before is pervasive, is insidious and a very sad dis-ease but if people who have it or family members or friends who have it, if they can be seen or can be shown that there is a connective-ness that they are not acknowledging or not reaching for or not understanding that they can connect with that.
It’s like a shower of warmth you know, it relieves them. It gives them succour if you like, because they are feeling like they are on their own and it is too much for them. Even if they have a loving family, it doesn’t make any difference. Loving friends – they still have this feeling of separateness.
It is very important that they be covered like this, like the warm water flowing down on them relieving the stress and the tension. If you turn a shower off, you still have to be able to make yourself warm. That’s the key and that’s why we say you start with the individual, then you go to the closest community.
You may want to stop there, but if that individual is going to another community you have to make sure that community is prepared. That they are also with spirit. That they are also connected so that when this person comes in it is like them going from one warm bath to the next warm bath.
You can’t leave them to fend for themselves until they are very confident and very together with themselves, then you can.
These people need to be nurtured, they need to be really nurtured and to cosset them along, to cover them with the warm blankets. They need that. They really need it. They may try to resist it; you cannot force them but once they feel that connection with spirit it’s much easier to keep them in the warm blanket and pass them to the different communities that are also in these warm blankets
Brad and Caroline
Image thanks Agnes Monkelbaan, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons