Tag Archives: self love

The art of allowing

 

AL1If you read ‘Love or Diet‘ you’ll read about my own journey with allowing joy into my life and how my ancestral past impacted my ability to allow myself to experience joy. You will also find out that I used to feel extreme guilt over being happy. This is an ongoing healing journey for me. One that I embrace daily.

Many of us may have hidden anxiety around allowing joy, happiness, peace etc into our lives. We can feel guilty about being happy when there are people around us who are sad. We can feel unsafe about being happy because there are people in our lives who get jealous, we keep ourselves small so as not to upset others. We can worry about being a shining light because if we are our best selves we may lose friendships that count on us being down rather than up.

For some of us these issues around ‘allowing’ can impact our emotional eating, or eating/food issues in general. Sometimes when we don’t allow authentic pleasure into our lives, or when we don’t allow ourselves to feel how we feel, we end up eating as a proxy way of allowing pleasure into our lives – but of course this tends to bite us, as afterwards we feel guilty, or in pain, about the eating.

We need to realise that it is safe for us to allow happiness and pleasure into our lives. It is true that some people around us might get jealous, or unhappy, or resentful – but those feelings are theirs and we cannot continue to live our lives staying small in order to please others. True friends will love us always.

What pleasure could you allow into your life today? Walks, swimming in the sea, time with my husband, dogs, friends, time alone with a book, writing in my journal….these things fill my heart with glee.

AL4The photos here were taken last week during a blissful couple of days away. I met up with my dear friend Lisa Lister for some heart-sharing, laughter and swimming in the sea. These were pleasure days for me. Days that in the past I would not have allowed myself. If you haven’t seen Lisa’s website go check it out….she has written a fantastic book called SASSY and has just produced some truly beautiful Sassy SHE Oracle cards.

If you need some help with self kindness, compassion and self love then check out my low cost 35 days of love e-course

Much love

Ani xx

©Ani Richardson

We are worthy, simply because we ‘are’

We imagine we are not worthy, we imagine that we don’t matter, we let go of our hearts and we eat (or don’t eat, or over- or under-exercise, or do drugs, or whatever). We eat to fill the void, to silence the voice that tells us that we are not worthy – only to find that same voice then screams louder in criticism at our lack of self control.

We have lost touch with our power, with THAT, with what we really are. We are children of the Universe, whole, beautiful pieces of a greater whole, pieces of perfection, pieces of the Divine. If we remembered THAT in every moment of every day we would not abuse ourselves with any kind of addiction process. We wouldn’t use food to comfort, silence or punish ourselves. We are worthy simply because ‘we are’.

This body that I wear is precious, she is my vehicle on this earth. She is unique. A unique expression of God, Tao, Being, Universe, SHE or whatever you wish to call THAT. In being unique I do not look like the magazines, my sister or my next door neighbour. I am perfect in my imperfections and not like anyone else.

We constantly need to embrace this uniqueness. When we let go of trying to control or shape ourselves then our body sighs in relief and begins to settle into her beautiful self – weight may be lost, curves may be gained, shape may morph but this comes with peace. We become a unique, ever evolving, expression of Self.

Do not apologise for your body or the way she looks. Within the safety of your heart you can apologise and make peace with your body for past mistakes and criticism that you may have lavished upon her. Now, in the present moment, is the time to take her hand and move forwards in harmony and love. Your body is waiting for your love and connection.

And in the final instance, when all is said and done, there is no real separation. Your body is not separated from THAT, she is a whole piece of that perfection. When we can learn to rest there, then struggle ceases to exist.

[Please don't think I mean taking a non-caring attitude toward your body, how you move it and what you eat. What I am writing about here is authenticity, non-attachment, letting go and love. Your Wisest Self will guide you in life and living, including food choice and exercise, if you let it]

Please take a look at my low cost e-package if you need support on your journey toward self-love.

Much love

Ani xx

©Ani Richardson

Are you hungry for food or is there a different kind of emptiness that needs attending to

In my book, Love or Diet, (available now)  I write about how struggles with food and emotional eating can be a signal that something deeper is going on, something deeper that needs to be listened to. The draw toward over eating (or indeed the craving toward starvation) can signify a kind of soul-call. Listening to that soul-call, and taking time for self exploration, can often lead to a sense of peace and personal growth (sometimes that personal growth can feel painful and uncomfortable at first but ultimately it carries us toward freedom).

The hunger that we sometimes feel can be a call for us to go deeper, to fearlessly look at what hurts, what we are really hungry for, what we need, what our dreams are, our passions, our desires.

My own personal hole-in-the-belly, that I kept trying to fill with food, was something that I am now utterly grateful for because it led me somewhere amazing and continues to lead me toward new depths and heights. When I took the journey, which began 10 years ago now, to see what it was all about I found out many things. Some of the insights were painful, some were powerful, others felt shameful….but taking time to gently look at those issues without judgement helped me to heal that hole and I got to a place where I no longer wanted to stuff it shut with food.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes still get the urge to over-eat. I do. The difference now is that I have a conscious flash-light and a sword of discernment to help me. Instead of unconsciously reaching for food, I take time to pause. I ask myself what is going on. What is calling for my attention. What do I FEEL, what do I really need. I listen to that, I give myself the gift of my own ears and my own time.

Going deep within ourselves can be challenging. You might want to seek support, especially if really difficult memories begin to surface. In my early days of exploration I had a gifted psychotherapist to support me. Now I use my journal and the skills I gained during my own professional training. I also have a one or two very close and trusted friends whom I communicate with deeply and authentically.

You can find out more about my book “Love or Diet: Learn to nurture yourself and release the need to be comforted by food” by clicking here

Next time you get the urge to over-eat ask you soul what she is trying to communicate with you. Take time to listen. Be gentle with yourself throughout the process.

In our yearning to be perfect, we have mistaken perfection for wholeness. We think we cannot love ourselves until we and others meet some external standard. Depression, anxiety – in fact, most neuroses and compulsions – are ultimately a defense against loving ourselves without condition. We are afraid to look at the damp, dark, ugly yet exquisite roots of being that stretch deep…we are fearful of finding that the spirit is not there, that our Home is empty, even as our outer home is empty. Yet it is in that place of survival, where the dark mother has been abandoned, that spirit longs to be embodied so that the whole body may become light….spirit wants to be incarnated in our humanity where is can grow in wisdom through experience” – Marion Woodman

Much love

Ani xx

©Ani Richardson

I am woman. Honouring the Divine Feminine Within

 

FemaleFriendsRecently I have been drawn to read many books that deal with the Divine feminine and the worth of women, some of these include the following:

*Joan Borysenko – A Woman’s Spiritual Journey. Finding the feminine path to fulfilment

*Marianne Williamson – A Woman’s Worth

*Meggan Watterson – REVEAL. A sacred manual for getting spiritually naked

*Kathleen McGowan – The Mary Magdalene Trilogy: The expected one, The book of love, The poet prince

*Lisa Clark – SASSY. The go for it girl’s guide to becoming mistress of your destiny

 

Reading these words has been really heart-opening for me. Often when I talk to women who have a variety of issues around food, emotional eating and body image I find that the issues are much deeper, that there is a certain amount of confusion, even shame over honouring themselves as important, as pieces of the Divine.

It can be challenging since many religions have not given women an equal place within their histories. God, Higher Power, Consciousness, True Nature….are often spoken of, or written about, as masculine, as His, Him, He….

However, if we go really far back in history, all over the world from Greece to the Far East Women were revered and Goddess worship was normal. Women were honoured because they give birth to new life, they signified the miraculous and the fertile. Goddess images also celebrate the diversity of women’s shapes. There were Goddesses that were very large, with large bellies and breasts. Goddesses with small breasts and large thighs, tall thin Goddesses, all shapes and all sizes were celebrated. The female form, in all shapes and sizes, was considered sacred, Divine, holy.

This is how we need to begin to treat ourselves now, with love, we need to learn to respect our beauty and Divinity. We need to honour ourselves as precious children of life. Until then we will always sabotage our greatness, whether that be with over eating, under-eating, over or under exercising, with other addictions, with critical thoughts, with disrespect.

Spirituality, Divinity is not masculine or feminine, it is within all. It is the awareness that holds life, just as it is.

World PeaceI am not sure there is an easy answer to how we can begin to re-address the balance within the world when it comes to honouring women. What I do know is that if we begin with ourselves we are more likely to be able to impact others. We need to learn to like ourselves and be happy to stand up and say “I like myself” without feeling ashamed, or as though this is arrogant. We can acknowledge that we are all precious children of the universe, equally as important. We can begin to honour ourselves and with that honour others. We can begin to finally know what self love is and how that can impact lives.

When we find peace within, the destructive, self-sabotaging behaviours, such as emotional eating, can begin to subside. We can support one another as women and encourage each other to shine. If not now, when.

I am woman. I honour the Divinity that resides within me. Om Namah Shivaya.

Much love

Ani xx

 

©Ani Richardson

Emotional eating as a mis-interpreted call to connect to your body

 

bodyAt the moment I am reading “REVEAL, A sacred manual for getting spiritually naked” by Meggan Watterson, you may have read some of the quotes from the book that I posted on my Facebook page. I highly recommend this book, it is beautifully written. Meggan writes about many things including how to begin honouring ourselves. Last night in the fifth chapter I read:

I think that so many of us still fear being fully present in the body because it means owning just how powerful we are. The responsibility is overwhelming. We then enter a place where we are held accountable for what we really know. We have an immediate sense of what is true for us. Real courage is simple surrendering to that. There’s nothing more powerful than a woman who has met the truth inside her. Nothing” – Meggan Watterson

In my book I write about emotional eating and how, for me when I was gorging myself on food I had a moment of realization. It felt as though my spirit was trying to get me to live a more embodied life. I was being called to feel my body more, allow myself to operate on this earth through the vehicle I had been given – my body. Food made me feel heavy; it really made me feel my physical body, something that I didn’t usually feel. I had always felt as though I was living outside of my body, floating above it, or to the side. I wasn’t so happy with being human. Through exploring my emotional eating I felt as though I was being called to live a different kind of spirituality, an embodied spirituality. I needed to learn to be rooted in the earth as well as swaying in the heavens. I had to ground my high ideals of spirituality into my body and my life on this earth.

It was something that I always struggled with, being human. I was always trying to escape, even as a child. Asking big questions that no one around me seemed to be able to answer and feeling intensely uncomfortable in this human skin was something that challenged me a great deal. I didn’t recognize my own reflection and looking at photographs of myself always shocked and un-nerved me. My ‘essence’ just felt too large to fit into this skin.

For myself personally, becoming ill with an autoimmune disease was also a big wake up call. I had spent so long not wanting to be human that my body seemed to be mirroring, reflecting, my wishes and was shutting down. It was the call to begin the journey to loving this human self whilst retaining my connection to the Divine. I felt, like Caroline Myss quips, like ‘a mystic without a monastery.’

Jack Kornfield expresses this eloquently when he writes in his book A path with heart: “In the depths of their silent listening many meditation students have discovered that from an early age their life experience was so painful they did not want to be born and they did not want to be here in a human body. They look to spirituality to provide an escape but where will the notions of purity, of going beyond or transcending our bodies, our worldly desires, our impurities lead us? Does it actually lead to freedom or is it only a strengthening of aversion, fear and limitation? Where is liberation to be found? The Buddha taught that both human suffering and human enlightenment are found in our own fathom-long body with its senses and mind. If not here and now, where else will we find it

In terms of emotional eating, we need begin to learn to relax into our body as our vehicle on this earth, whilst remembering that the body isn’t all of who we are. If anyone outside of us is judging us it really doesn’t matter. The question to ask is if you are judging yourself – because that is the real pain. So, in this moment see if you can accept where you are. Right now. At this particular shape and size. STOP. This is it for this moment. This is your starting place. You are changing and loving yourself more and you are starting now from where you are. How you are is not wrong. It simply is. As you love yourself more you will investigate your feelings more, your need to squash your emotions and needs with food will lessen, and you’ll start to eat in a way that is good for you. Your body may, or may not, change shape. Love yourself every step of the way.

For help with developing a self love practice please check out my low cost 35 day e-package

Much love

Ani xx

©Ani Richardson

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude

 

 

gratitude

Today I am filled with gratitude for many things: for waking up in a warm bed (it is mid-March and still feeling like winter here in the UK), for the singing birds, for Chris and Fredd-dog, for a lovely morning walk, for hot running water….and so much more! If you are a regular to my facebook page you will know that I am an advocate of gratitude and keeping a daily gratitude journal.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend”.- Melody Beattie

Gratitude can be so healing, especially if the voice of the inner critic or inner saboteur is loud. If you find that you are being self critical take time to pause and find something to be grateful for. Often this act of gratitude can silence the criticism and help us to find a new frame of mind. Gratitude can also help take us out of the past or future and bring us back into the precious, present moment. This can be a really useful tool in preventing the urge to emotionally eat.

Studies into gratitude have found that it can help to relieve stress, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. Grateful people also seem to have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance use.

Some ways to cultivate gratitude:

-Keep a daily gratitude journal

-Think about a living person for whom you are grateful

-Write about someone for whom you are grateful

-Write a gratitude letter to deliver to someone

-Write out positive affirmations such as “I am filled with gratitude for the un-ending gifts that life gives me”

-Look non-judgmentally at your thoughts to see where you are being overly negative and see if you can work on those areas

Often thoughts stream through our minds and we don’t notice their context. Keeping the gratitude list helps to focus us back to things that have been good that day. Be grateful for yourself, your gifts, and your love. Celebrate your beautiful self.

Gratitude gladdens the heart. It is not sentimental, not jealous, nor judgmental. Gratitude does not envy or compare. Gratitude receives in wonder the myriad offerings of the rain and the earth, the care that supports every single life. As gratitude grows it gives rise to joy. We experience the courage to rejoice in our own good fortune and in the good fortune of others” -Jack Kornfield

FRONTDid you know that my book on emotional eating will be published soon? Check out Love or Diet for more information

If you would like a low cost 35 day e-package to help support your self love journey please take a look here

Much love

Ani xx

 

©Ani Richardson

Learning to love yourself as you are now does not mean staying stuck

 

HeartSmileStarting out on the journey of learning to love yourself where you are, and how you are, right now is NOT passive. It does not mean that you will stay the same without change. When I speak about self-love a resistance often comes up for people. They seem to believe that if they love themselves and their bodies just as they are right now then they will never change. This is not true.

Self love is an amazing tool because it makes taking positive action steps more joyful and easier. If we are hating ourselves in our current state, then we are less likely to take any kind of positive action toward change. In a place of self criticism and self hate we are more likely to get stuck in a pattern of beating up on ourselves and not making any lasting changes at all. For someone who eats emotionally this self-criticism tends to mean continual cycles of binging and restrictive dieting and then feeling awful about it and then more criticism and more hatred.

Begin slowly to learn to love yourself how you are right now. Each moment, each day. One day at a time. Be WILLING and open to learning and allowing self love into your life. With this loving energy you can start to take action steps toward life goals – such as making health-filled food choices, taking time to feel your emotions rather than eat them, making space for joy, movement, friendships, meditation, ritual etc. Start now, today by dropping the self criticism. See how it feels. Do you have a better day when you criticise yourself or do you have a better day when you are kind and compassionate with yourself?

Much love,

Ani xx

 

©Ani Richardson

Be aware of how messages in your environment might be triggering your eating patterns

 

brain overloadMy interest in subliminal messages was sparked at the age of 15 when I was studying for my GCSE school exams. I learned that messages from the outside environment can influence us even if we are not conscious of it. At that time I decided to record hours of information onto tape and would get my mum to turn on the player in my bedroom after she could see I had fallen asleep. My theory was that I would take in all the information and be able to recall it during the exams. Whether it worked or not I cannot be sure but I did better in those exams than I thought I would!

Our brains are bombarded with information in every moment. We are flooded with news stories that are often negative and we live through happy and sad times. The thing is, we sometimes react to situations or information in a seemingly unconscious way. For example, we hear some sad news and before we know it we are in the kitchen comfort eating. For an individual who struggles with emotional eating subconscious reactions can take time to decipher.

For a long time I have been an advocate of minimising time spent reading about negative stories. This isn’t a way of ignoring world crisis, instead I see it as a way of being able to be more present to world crisis in a positive way instead of merely reacting to the negative with more negativity.

Recently I became aware of some research (1,2) which suggests that ‘doom and gloom’ news about the state of our economy might be impacting eating patterns. It appears that news about economic crisis and the sight of people facing adversity seems to lead people to see and consume more filling and high-calorie foods since they subconsciously perceive resources in the world are scarce. Perceptions of harshness were shown to promote unhealthy patterns of eating.

The research found that when there is a perception of tough times and our subconscious is primed with negative messages an impulse it triggered which can cause people to consume nearly 40% more food when compared to people primed with neutral words and messages.  One of the researchers said (2) “Now that we know this sort of messaging causes people to seek out more calories out of a survival instinct, it would be wise for those looking to kick off a healthier new year to tune out news for a while.

I agree that sometimes we need to tune out of the bad news for a while (also magazines which talk about ‘perfect figures’, diets and weight loss), especially if you tend to be someone who responds to heightened emotions with eating.

If you catch yourself starting to get upset about the news or wound-up by advertising take time to pause and breathe. Turn off the news-story or put down the magazine. Focus on everything that is good in your life. What can you be grateful for in that moment? Once I begin to focus on the good and what I am grateful for my mood tends to change, there is always something to be glad about. For me, right now I am glad for my home, Freddy-dog, my husband Chris, this laptop, hot running water, adequate clothing……the list could go on.

SelfLoveMy new book “Love or Diet” is now available to buy. Please click here for more information

Much love

Ani xx

 

©Ani Richardson

(1)Laran J & Salerno A. 2013. Life-history strategy, food choice and caloric consumption. Psycholo Sci. Jan 9 [Epub ahead of print]

(2)Press release. Association for Psychological Science (2013, January 22). People seek high-calorie foods in tough times. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2013/01/130122143226.htm

Emotional Eating and the Menstrual Cycle

 

emotionalDo you find that your urge to eat becomes stronger during the week before your menstrual period? Many women, myself included, find that they are more hungry at this time. If you have active emotional eating tendencies then this time may feel uncomfortable and even frightening.

Last week I was reading some scientific research papers (1,2,3) which look at the menstrual cycle and the hormonal impact on binge eating and emotional eating. The scientists conducting these studies have found robust associations between ovarian hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, and premenstrual binge/emotional eating tendencies.

Around day 20/21 of the menstrual cycle (about a week before your period if you have a 28 day cycle) there is a peak in our progesterone levels and also a secondary peak in our oestrogen levels. This time in the cycle is called the mid-luteal phase. In one of the studies I was reading (2), the scientists found that changes in ovarian hormones predicted changes in emotional eating with emotional eating scores being highest during the mid luteal phase. There is also indication (3) from the study results that women who try to restrain their eating with harsh diets might be more impacted by emotional eating during this premenstrual time.

Please do not see the premenstrual time as a disempowering time or a time of inevitable binges. The reason I highlight these studies here is in order to inform and empower. Having this knowledge means that we can be fully prepared and have a loving plan for ourselves in the run up to our period.

If you think that you are finding the urge to emotionally eat more strong during certain times of the month then begin to track your cycle, note down when the urge to binge becomes the greatest. If you see a pattern you can begin to build a really solid self-love and nurturance plan. Make the commitment to ramp-up the self love and nurturance in the week before your period, take more time for yourself: do you need more quiet time? Do you need a trusted friend to talk to at this time? What really nurtures you? Do you need to keep away from certain difficult people at this time? Have a look at my 35 days of love package and see if this could be a good way to begin supporting yourself

>>>NEW: my premenstrual nutrition e-booklet, a 63 page information PDF available here<<<<

Take a look at the blog post that I wrote about balancing blood sugar levels, this can be particularly useful premenstrually (and can be useful to help reduce emotional eating at all times)
emotional2Take time for quiet and reflection in the run up to your period – many women find that this is a time of increased intuition and a time when they need silence and stillness. I loved reading Women’s bodies, women’s wisdom by Dr Christiane Northrup – there is a great section there about the menstrual cycle.

Most of all, do not feel guilty about your increased appetite, do not try to squash it down or overly restrain yourself at this time as this is likely to lead to a binge. Be gentle with yourself, listen to your deepest wisdom, listen to your hunger. The hunger may be more about a need or desire rather than food. Get still and ask yourself “how do I feel?” “what do I really need?” listen for feelings and answers.

>>>NEW: my premenstrual nutrition e-booklet, a 63 page information PDF available here<<<<

Much love

Ani xx

©Ani Richardson

 

References

1. Klump KL et al.  2008.  Ovarian hormones and binge eating: exploring associations in community samples. Psychol Med.  38:1749-1757

2.Klump KL et al.  2012.  The interactive effects of estrogen and progesterone on changes in emotional eating across the menstrual cycle. J Abnorm Psychol. Aug 13. [Epub ahead of print]

3. Klump KL et al.  2013.  Ovarian hormones and emotional eating associations across the menstrual cycle: An examination of the potential moderating effects of body mass index and dietary restraint. Int J Eat Disord. 2013 Jan 11. doi: 10.1002/eat.22084. [Epub ahead of print]

Self nurturance and love are vital when things don’t go to plan!

 

Picture 163Every single year until I was about 14/15 years old I would wish, hope and pray that it would snow on my birthday. It has NEVER snowed where I have been on my birthday. Never. It usually snows the week before or the week after.

This year has been the one year that I have wished, hoped and prayed that it would NOT snow on my birthday. And guess what? It’s snowing. Today Chris and I celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary and my 34th birthday (hooray, hoorah)! However, because of the snow our plans have been a little disrupted. Chris has to leave in order to be able to drive to the airport because he has a flight at 4am tomorrow to go to Italy for a week snowboarding. This is very different weather to our wedding day in Sri Lanka two years ago when the sun was shining!

So, it is a bitter-sweet day! It is so happy and beautiful to be celebrating 2 years of being married yet it is tinged with the sadness that I am snowed in with Freddy-dog whilst Chris leaves for a week.

When times are emotional or challenging self love and self nurturance are a key way to avoid turning to food for comfort. So I am sitting here thinking about what would be most nourishing for me today and tomorrow (and for the next week while Chris is away) while I settle in to being snowbound with Freddy! Long walks in the snow with Freddy dog, curling up with books and my journal, perhaps a deep bath and watching a film? I am going to make it a magical and nourishing week!

If you are stuck for how to begin a self-love practice then check out my low-cost 35 Days Of Love e-package You are worthy of taking care of yourself. We often seem to forget that we are allowed to be happy and loved! Start now, believe and receive love!!

 

Much love

Ani xx