What is the experience of spirituality? My patients in treatment for various eating disorders often ask me this very question. The answer is not so easy, especially when spirituality is an individual experience—with no two exposures mirrored.

Treatment for eating disorders is three-fold: physical, emotional and spiritual. Often the spiritual component is missing. Is it important? From my perspective, as a certified eating disorder professional and a food addict in recovery, spirituality is KEY to restoring a healthy balance.

What is the experience like when a spiritual connection is ever-present? For me, it’s a constant intangible companion through trials and tribulations. It’s an awareness that whispers answers to questions often not posed—when everything is dark and there’s nowhere and no one to turn to. Spirituality is the hug from God when you feel alone. It is His strength when you feel weak.True, this “thing” called spirituality is not tangible, but omnipotent when you open your heart and receive it. This infinite power shows no bias and no preference and is available to anyone who seeks.

What is spiritual deficit? When disconnected from spiritual recovery the sun no longer shines and the birds are silent—you drown in despair, so alone gasping for relief—any relief to stop the pain is welcomed. The lack of divine—is an innate gnawing sense something is not right within. To not be in spiritual presence is as powerful as to be—but on an insane track, hiding food in your purse, closet, drawers and filling up to your eye balls with food – stomach distended—dying within and dying without.

Spirituality is a term that is impossible to define because each individual attracts his or her spiritual-self differently. Spiritual sacredness is a personal, internal vision—a part of the self that refers to faith in something greater and more profound than self. Faith is not necessarily in the context of organized religion, but rather as how one perceives their own connection with a force higher than themselves. In the context of this blog, spirituality best fits to an internal exploration rather than to objective reasoning.

Ericson (1996) says it best:

Although I am well versed in the “techniques” and “tools” of psychology and psychotherapy, I believe that these are merely “tools.” The real healing takes place with these tools and the willingness and openness to allow that “power greater than self” to intervene. I believe that to use these tools without a healthy respect and inclusion of the spiritual process is like trying to run a race with one leg. (pp.104-105)

So, what is the experience of spirituality? It is allowing yourself to be open and willing to let your experience take you where your journey directs you—to embrace whatever comes…

Photos by: Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego

Ericson Phyllis (1996). “Journey of the soul…The emerging self…from dis-ease to discovery.” Dissertation Abstracts International, 58 (8), 4579B (UMI No. 9542654)

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