Spirit is for Everyone

I was at a wonderfully lavish networking event recently. All invited were asked to go around the room and tell a bit about counseling specialty and to tell what it is that we are passionate about in our work. In my work I’m passionate about spirit. With both trauma and eating disorder clients, it is exciting to see clients inviting spirit into the body and watching the body connect to spirit. One of the reasons clients are drawn to The Awakening Center is because of our holistic approach. My version of that holistic approach is to acknowledge the connection between body and spirit. In my work lately, I’ve been coming across this concept; my clients and I get to explore what this means for them.

I find that this concept can get confusing at times. Is it correct to honor the body? Or to honor one’s spirit? How about both? Some think that if we focus too much on the body experience, then we are not being spiritual enough. Others say that being spiritual is to transcend or even ignore the body. I find that it is important to invite that spiritual aspect, that certain level of awareness, into the body and to allow the body to strive toward an experience of ones’ spirit self.

Internal Family Systems, a popular psychotherapy approach we espouse at The Awakening Center gets around both by calling this “SELF” energy. Smart move. Then our friend Oprah says, “we are spiritual beings having a human experience”. As contrary as I like to be at times, I gotta go with Oprah’s take.

And you know when that is happening, when you are engaged in the moment and something profound is occurring. Maybe it’s the experience of smelling fresh popcorn popping or the joy you feel on the open road, music blaring, singing to yourself in the car. It’s when you cannot put that book down so you stay up all night engrossed in story. It could be at a nightclub, or that warmth in the air at a wedding.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think of myself as a spirit who wants to have body experiences from the simple to the sublime. When life gets overwhelming, it can be very tough to remember this. And eating disorders can really cause individuals to forget their spirit and deny the body. Eating disorders are designed to send away the aspects of one’s present Self awareness. Eating disorders are a way to escape the body. Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC, founder of the Awakening Center often says that many of our eating disorder clients wish they could just carry their heads around on a stick, like a lollipop. In my opinion, it’s the integration of body and spirit where recovery happens and the rubber meets the road. And that is one place I find the passion for my work.

Recovering this awareness (an aspect of one’s spirit or Self energy) is a great way to overcome eating disorders. The way I like to think of it is that your spirit would never do you wrong. That part of you that is moved by a nature, travel, a movie, a song, that part of you would never lead you astray. Listening to that inner awareness is a way to move towards wellness (body mind and spirit wellness). There is a Buddhist tenet the holds that we can learn through joy or we can learn through suffering. Dr. Ira Sacker, M.D., a well known eating disorders specialist out of Columbia University in New York endorses this approach. He uses his clients’ passions to move forward in their recovery process by getting them involved in the very things that they are deeply passionate about but haven’t allowed themselves to pursue. I like that. It’s much more fun. And that is where my client work has taken me lately.

But you don’t have to have an eating disorder or even be a psychotherapy client to be invited to connect to your spirit, your passions, your truth.

What is it for you – what connects your spirit to your body? No, seriously. What is it? Have you allowed yourself to have that lately?

For some it’s pilates or yoga. For some, running is a way to connect to body to spirit, (for others running may act as a mechanism to disconnect from and escape the body). For some, connecting body to spirit is painting – a canvas or a wall. For others it’s creating a meal or having a culinary experience of taste, smell and texture in the moment.

What are your moments in life when you have been very clear that your body and your spirit were connected? How can you bring more of that into your life now? Or are there new ways you’ve been wanting to bring forth that connection? Maybe you could give yourself permission to take a step and have that thing! Your body might just thank you.