The following is derived from Chinmayi’ Dore’s best-selling book, BodyMAGIC! – an End to Emotional Eating Forever, available on Amazon.
Mind over Matters
There is a lot of information in BodyMAGIC! about the body’s natural ways of looking after us.
On the physical and scientific side, we know that the brain has great power in organising chemical messengers (hormones) to adjust the body’s workings, so that we can operate as efficiently and healthfully as possible in all manner of circumstances. When people say “it’s all in your head”, they are right. For everything starts with the brain. It’s like your central processing unit. But it is better than that. It has the capacity to work through all sorts of challenges, from broken limbs to decades of self-abuse, including eating the wrong foods, smoking, drinking and drugs. We truly are marvellous, highly intelligent beings.
If we apply that same capacity for change to our mind and spirit, we need never worry about the future of our health and wellbeing. Our potential is virtually limitless. I’m not talking about winning races in sport, building a multi-million dollar business or taking a holiday in the Caribbean, although that is possible of course. I’m talking about your personal growth, change and transformation. The internal shift. A huge opportunity presents itself, every day, for finding peace in your body, mind and your soul. A belief in this possibility is all you really need. That comes with your practice.
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.”
In ancient philosophy, some of which I have studied, the mind really has three facets:
- The Conscious Mind
This is the mind that you are always aware of. You may forget things of course. But the conscious mind is the one you rely on most of the time. It has your best interests at heart. It is the one you use to think about your goals, your plans, your actions and your desired results. It is the mind you have used to set intentions with the workings of this book. It is a solution finder. It takes in information and turns it into possible actions. It serves you well as an emotional overeater. It’s going to get you to where you want to be. It is going to help you to bring some of the theory of this book and put it into real-life practice. It is where the first four of the 7 Spells of BodyMAGIC! are working:
- Idea which becomes an Intention leads to
- Focus which becomes Understanding leads to
- Confidence which becomes Enthusiasm leads to
- Determination which becomes Commitment
- The Unconscious Mind
This is your instinctive mind. It knows how to keep you safe. When there is a car coming at you at 50mph, it is the unconscious mind which gets you out of the way. It is hugely powerful. It is where all of your reactions come from, including your emotions. Some of these reactions you were born with – the ones that save your life. Others are taught to you by the people who have been around you during your life and the experiences you have had. Whilst most of these reactions are useful and necessary, some of them are not serving you as an emotional overeater. The challenge is that, most of the time, you are not aware of them.
The other challenge is that the unconscious mind works many thousands times faster than the conscious mind. It must do this to keep us out of danger. It is full of your instincts. When that car is coming at you, it doesn’t think “well if I go that way, I’m going to get wet in that puddle, but if I go back, I may not have time to turn around and therefore I’ll trip over, hmmm what should I do? Maybe I should ask that man over there to save me?” No, of course not! You don’t know how you get out of the way, you just do it. It’s fast, it’s simple and it’s very powerful indeed. But it doesn’t always know what’s best for you because it’s not conscious. It’s your programming. It’s like a wellbeing app that has had some peculiar updates over the years! When you set off to a restaurant with good intentions and come away having eaten totally differently and wondering “Why did I do that?” it was your unconscious mind that reacted.
When someone tells you that “if you carry on losing weight like this, you are going to fade away” and that drives you to the bakery to over-indulge in what you like until you are almost sick, the unconscious mind has taken over the conscious mind. At this level, you believe that you can eat and overeat as much as you wish because someone has told you that don’t need to lose weight. Your unconscious mind actually thinks that if you don’t, you will fade away! It’s an irrational reaction. It may seem like you are out of your mind and you are (well the conscious mind is anyway!). In an ideal world you might have taken on board the compliment and then made your own conscious mind up. But before you could even think about it, you had reacted. It was like you had permission to indulge in your addiction, but really it was just your deep-rooted unconscious beliefs about survival coming out to ‘help’ you. Therefore, it is necessary to work with the unconscious mind to work the other three spells.
- Discipline which becomes Willpower leads to
- Self-Knowledge which becomes Patience leads to
- Tenacity which becomes Success leads to
This is where the MAGIC! starts to happen. When you are able to catch your reactions to the things people say and do, however normal those words are in conversation, you are paving the way to real healing. Your body will love you for it but first your unconscious mind needs to be shown the way and reassured that you are taking care of yourself.
As an overeater who says she has no discipline, this is one of the most challenging parts of this process. But it is totally doable. The practice of Anapanasati meditation is one of the most effective ways of accessing the unconscious mind. However, all of the practices of BodyMAGIC! will help.
“When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his death bed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.”
~ Winston Churchill
- The Subconscious Mind
This is your routines and habits arena. If you have always gone to a restaurant at a certain time each week, sat in a certain chair being served by a certain waiter and had triple chocolate sundae with cream and marshmallows, it’s what your subconscious mind has come to expect. So when you go in one week and they have no ice cream, how do you feel? Rationally and consciously, it shouldn’t matter. But part of you, out of seemingly nowhere, isn’t happy. With practice we can laugh at this. It’s just an attachment to a habit and can be changed.
We are creatures of habit. We love continuity. It gives us comfort and makes us feel safe. As a yoga teacher I used to see the face of a student who arrived late for class and couldn’t put her mat in her usual place. Of course, consciously these things don’t matter. But the unconscious mind’s reaction can be so strong. It can often give us a knee-jerk reaction that we later regret. But it can be trained and it can work more in favour of our health, healing and happiness. The secret is to Know Yourself – your habits, your routines and your attachments – and make changes slowly. Have some fun with these patterns and never force anything.
Recognise that some of your patterns are healthy and support your healing. Certainly the sooner your practice becomes a habitual pattern, the better! Even in the early days of your practice, you will start to see things more clearly, you will understand yourself and your worth much more, you will feel the benefits of the healing you are doing and realise that your level of happiness is going up. At this point it is quite likely that your subconscious or unconscious mind will step in again. You may get a sense of achievement, destination and that you’ve ‘made it’. Most of us have been brought up to believe that there has to be a finishing post. Sometimes a few things can happen within the trifecta of your mind:
- The subconscious mind wants you to go back to what it has known for the majority of your life. It has been trained, through your experience, that you go on diets and programmes but eventually you go back to the ‘way things were’. So it may trigger thoughts of giving up and going back
- The unconscious mind just wants to keep things safe and normal. So it may bring on thoughts of discomfort (feeling outside the comfort zone). Sometimes it may recognise change, however positive, as a threat. It likes the status quo because it has the attitude of ‘better the devil you know’. It can often see change as risky business.
- This work is an amazing journey that runs alongside the journey of your life. For life-long emotional healing we need to remain conscious. The practices within this book, particularly Anapanasati meditation will help to grow your conscious mind. You will recognise these kinds of reactions and that will give you all the Discipline, Willpower, Self-knowledge, Patience, Tenacity and Success you so readily deserve. It may be hard work at times, depending on your age, your life story and your history of disordered eating and dieting. But it does get easier and the more you come to Know Your Worth, the more this practice becomes as necessary a part of life as eating itself.
For me, these practices are fuel for my conscious mind. I have come to think of my practice as food for my soul.
“When my mind gets out of my way, I believe that anything is possible.”
~ Chinmayi Dore