Close Your Eyes and Open Your Soul

Written by: Gracie, Facebook manager and contributing writer at Unpolished Journey

I wish I could blindfold the world.  I wish for just one day, I could speak to your soul and not your concealer.  I want to see your spirit, not your eyebrow pencil.  I want to connect with the light inside you not the lip color painted on your mouth.

I promise I am not going to write an anti-makeup essay disguised as a spirituality blog post.  I simply want to use makeup as just one example of the many ways I often escape my spiritual journey.  It’s not the makeup’s fault, though.  It’s not the fault of the fashion or the new outfit.  It’s not the fault of the six pack or the thigh gap.  The fault is in the entire focus on the body as a show piece instead of a suitcase.  I see the body as a suitcase for the soul.  The body is a vessel not vouge.

I have been struggling a lot lately with how my body looks in recovery.  These recent few years in recovery have been the longest I have existed in an adult woman’s body and let me tell you, it does not feel like I have arrived.  I do not wake up and feel flawless regardless of how many times I blast Beyonce as my alarm.  I do not look for every chance I can to rock my bikini and I still find myself flipping through filter after filter to fix my figure and my self-esteem.  I have been feeling this lack of body confidence more and more recently and I began to feel that my worries, fears, and criticisms were drowning out any strength and wisdom that might come from my soul.

After a particularly hard week last week, everything came to a halt on last wednesday night.  I was at my very last class of yoga teacher training.  The 200 hour teacher training graduation took place on Wednesday night and I walked into the yoga studio of wall to wall mirrors.  I wanted to hide and I wanted to crawl out of my body at the same time and preferably both.  Our instructors informed all of the newly certified teachers to lay down our mats and settle into child’s pose.  In child’s pose, the instructors asked each student to close their eyes and feel around the top of our mats for a surprise.  I wiggled my fingers up to the top of my mat and felt a small piece of cloth that I began to realize was a thick, stretchy headband.  The instructors told us to pull the headbands down over our eyes and that they were going to lead us through an hour long, blindfolded practice.  I think I was the only one in the room who was over the moon with elation.  I gave my Higher Power a quick mental high five and praised the universe for disposing of the mirrors for at least an hour.

I was unprepared for the 60 minute journey I was about to take.

When I couldn’t see, I had to feel.

I felt my shaky legs struggle for balance.  I felt my body dance with the soft, flowing music.  I felt my fingerpads sink into my mat.  I felt my chest swell and empty with my deep inhales and exhales.

And then, I felt my spirit begin to talk to me.

I felt all of the fears that had been masquerading as dissatisfaction with my body.  I felt the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of being alone, the fear of not being enough.  I felt the hurt of heartbreak, the hurt of being used, the hurt of taking the road less traveled, the hurt of having to ask for help.  I felt the pain my eyes had been convincing me was caused by the circumference of my thighs and the roundness of my face.

My soul tries to talk to me on a daily basis, but because I live in a physical world I often cannot hear my soul above my eyes.

When I was blindfolded I was forced to listen to my soul.  My soul reminded me that I am a light.  My soul reminded me that I am joy.  My soul reminded me that I am unique.  My soul reminded me that I am worthy and deserving.  My soul reminded me that I am an overcomer.  It is funny to me that the instructors had us begin the class in child’s pose, because I often look at pictures of my younger self and instantly see my soul.  I see that untamed, mischievous grin.  I see those genuine, unconditionally affectionate eyes.  I see what my eyes used to see – I see my soul.

Some days I wish I could untrain my eyes to see all of the things they see now.  I wish I could travel back in time to tell little Gracie to close her eyes before she starts to compare, despair and shrink.  I wish I could tell little Gracie to put on a blindfold and just TAKE UP SPACE.  Take up SO much space, because little Gracie, your soul is much too expansive to ever fit into any physical body.
Spirituality is truly my saving Grace.  Spirituality is the unconditional love that guides and gives me strength to live to my fullest potential, my fullest purpose, my most meaningful life.  My connection to my higher power and the energy of all of the souls around me is what makes my life worth living and it is therefore my reason for recovery.

Leaning on Spirituality in Recovery

Written by: Morgan Blair, Founder and Creative Director of Unpolished Journey

I have been asked on more than one occasion what helps to motivate me in my eating disorder recovery journey. Each time I respond without a breath: “My spirituality.”  The response is a reflex at this point, as well known and comfortable as the stuffed dog that lays beneath my head each night.  Spirituality is both my breath and my peace.  It is the part housed within my soul. The part that no matter how dark or twisted my mind becomes, it cannot be touched.  My spirituality gives me the connections I desperately need in order to defeat the darkness in my life.

If this tool is so powerful against the eating disorder, what exactly does it consists of? What does it mean to be spiritual? What does it mean to utilize spirituality?

Spirituality, for me, is leaning on a Higher Power to restore me to sanity. My Higher Power being God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. My spirituality is interchangeable with my faith and my faith is interchangeable with hope. Hope being the killer of darkness. Spirituality is the process of learning to surrender over my struggles, pains, and emotions to my Higher Power in order to pull me through.  It is me admitting my weakness in order to understand just how strong my Higher Power is.

My eating disorder is a massive web of thoughts, behaviors, insecurities, and painful memories.  It is infectious and when I surrender to the eating disorder, it overtakes my entire life.  I can’t eat, sleep, or think without the eating disorder. I can’t even breathe without it. I become a host dictated by its parasitic nature, sucking all life and purpose from my veins.  In return, the eating disorder silences my ability to hear any aspect of my spirituality. It cuts me off from the room that houses my soul, my spirit tank, and any essence that gives me purpose in my life.

I was once asked how I would envision the rooms of my internal house to be arranged. The rooms consisting of my physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual parts.  I told the therapist that the spiritual room would be at the center, and in order to get into any other room in the house, you would have to walk through it. “How does your eating disorder impact your house?” my therapist responded with. “It turns off all the lights in the spiritual room and boards up all the doors, so that I am stuck in one room without any resources or light,” I told her.

After I said this out loud, I was reminded of what deep down I always knew to be true.  My spiritual room must be dusted, rearranged, aired out, and lit in order for me to find joy and peace in other areas of my life or in order for me to move freely to the other rooms/parts of myself. The eating disorder cuts me off and leaves me caged and frozen in captivity. Therefore, I forget who I ever was without it.

Now, I am not going to tell you that you HAVE to use spirituality in order to recover from mental illness, but I will tell you that I don’t think anyone will ever understand true freedom until they have found God. Until you have found that piece that is larger than yourself, larger than your struggles, larger than your past illnesses or hurts. For me, my spirituality is the ONLY tool strong enough to defeat the eating disorder completely. I could reread the DBT handbook a thousand times over or read a million articles on recovery or discuss my meal plan ten fold, but without prayer, scripture, a relationship with God, or hope that’s found in my spiritual community, then none of those skills can truly take root. Because, the spirituality piece can not only manage my symptoms, but it can heal them, alleviating them in their entirety. And that, my friends, is called hope. And without hope full recovery cannot exist.
Spirituality is the only thing large enough to fill the void that living without the eating disorder leaves me with.