In my latest podcast episode, I spoke with Rachel Wilkinson, a trauma-informed practitioner, about the power of embodiment in healing from disordered eating and addiction.
Rachel has lived experience recovering from both addiction and eating disorders. Now, as a therapist and yoga teacher, she helps others reconnect to their bodies and emotions through practices like mindfulness, therapeutic movement, and yoga.
Why We Disconnect From Our Bodies
Many of us dealing with eating disorders and addiction tend to be disconnected from our bodies as a coping mechanism. When we experience repeated or extreme stress and trauma, we dissociate – our minds separate from our physical sensations as a survival response.
Although this disconnection protects us in the short-term, it can be harmful over time. Ignoring signals from our body keeps us stuck in fight-or-flight mode, unable to self-regulate.
The Journey Back to Embodiment
Embodiment means reintegrating our mind, body, and spirit. Rachel explained that embodied living allows us to access our inner resources rather than seeking external fixes.
She suggests first cultivating awareness of simple physical sensations, like the feeling of clothing touching your skin or your feet on the ground. From there, we can explore releasing trauma stored in the tissues through shaking, breathing, and other somatic practices.
Rachel also emphasizes the importance of releasing judgment and relating to your body with curiosity instead. Movements can be invitational, with a sense of playfulness and discovery.
Welcoming All Emotions
Another key insight from Rachel is that we must make space for all of our emotions – not just the “good” ones. Suppressing fear, anger, grief, or anxiety often backfires.
She spoke about the problem with toxic positivity and spiritual bypassing – the belief that we should only feel positive. True healing means embracing the full spectrum of human emotions with compassion.
Rachel founded an incredible nonprofit called Create Your Community that aims to make holistic wellbeing accessible to all. She firmly believes human connection is foundational to mental health.
The pandemic has exacerbated struggles with isolation, anxiety, and depression. But Rachel notes that adversity can also bring people together in profound ways.
If you feel inspired to explore embodiment practices as part of your eating disorder recovery, check out Rachel’s website and connect with her below. Recovery requires support, and you don’t have to do this alone!