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compulsive eating
 

John Ruskan's
Emotional Clearing

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Compulsive eating is a behavior we adopt to shield ourselves from painful feelings. The feelings become suppressed with the eating, and we think we feel better and have gotten rid of them, but we delude ourselves. The feelings continue to jump out from their suppressed place into awareness at appropriate times and, having developed the habit, we turn to food once more to re-suppress them. Discovering these feelings through intelligent work on yourself and learning how to clear them directly will eliminate the need for compulsive eating. On the contrary, trying to control compulsive eating with the will, without clearing the feelings behind, will prove to be impossible. Let’s look at a broader view of this situation:

Located at the navel, the Nurturing center has to do with the capacity for emotionally receiving and feeling in general. It governs feelings related to being cared for, fed physically and emotionally, mothering and being a mother. Our hunger for these experiences, the pain of their absence or dysfunction, including compulsive eating and similar cravings for alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and a general sense of emotional neediness are the feelings that are to be processed to bring this center into integration.

Western psychology, in its attempts to explain the origin of emotional patterns, usually looks to childhood experience. If the child did not receive proper mothering, if the mother was emotionally unavailable, did not hold the child affectionately, did not accept and validate all the child’s feelings, it would be presumed that the child would develop into an adult with emotional issues, seeking to attach dependently to a partner, usually unconsciously, for the care and nurturing not received in childhood. Many schools of psychology would include as “therapy” treatment that would make up for the absence of mothering in childhood. The therapist/surrogate mother would be especially caring and supportive, emotionally strong, warm, and present; guided meditations might be used to “reprogram” the child’s experience to be positive.

Persons undergoing therapy will welcome this kind of treatment. It is, after all, what they have been striving for unconsciously. But this approach will produce limited results. The problem is not that the mother figure is or was absent but that the client does not have the capacity to open to nurturing, either as a child turning outward to parents or as an adult turning to a therapist or inwardly to access self-nurturing. What needs to be addressed is the capacity for nurturing, the lack of which resulted in the child attracting a parent with limited emotional skills.

Processing the pain of not being open to receive, not being nurtured, being hungry and emotionally needy is what brings the shift and is how the capacity for nurturing may be developed. This inner neediness is felt as a kind of psychic vacuum, and I believe it is related to the general experience of emptiness that we often are driven to satisfy. As the neediness and emptiness are welcomed, accepted, and experienced, we break the blocks to self-nurturing.

Self-nurturing is a key component of emotional maturity. When we do not possess this ability, usually we are not aware of its absence and that we are compulsively driven to obtain nurturing from others. But we are never able to be satisfied because even if we do find it, we cannot open to it. When we learn to nurture ourselves, we no longer frantically search outside; we are self-sustaining.

All these themes relate to the general experience of food compulsiveness. We eat compulsively in the attempt to satisfy the emotional neediness of this and other centers. If food compulsiveness is a problem for you, develop a practice of processing the feelings from which you attempt to escape through food. As you release the feelings in processing them, your compulsiveness for food will diminish. The feelings that you will process can pertain to this center, such as the general sense of emotional hunger or pain associated with mothering issues, or can be any other specific feeling that is part of your work. If you are not aware of these feelings now, as you begin the work, sensitizing yourself with breathwork, sitting with whatever feelings are present, you will be led to the deeper issues behind the compulsiveness.

When this center is integrated, we gain harmonious access to the archetypal inner female, with her qualities of receptivity, nurturing, softness, and empathy. We experience self-nurturing. Both men and women may be cut off from the inner female, but it is more urgent for men to make contact as part of their development since usually they are especially estranged. We gain access to the inner female when we process the negative aspects of this center. As we grow in this center, we activate our capacity for true FEELING.

 
 

© 2004 John Ruskan / The Institute for Integrative Processing