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
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
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.