Okay, but how is it Pagan?

I have introduced the concept of Health At Every Size, and tried to provide some resources for those who wish to learn more about HAES.  But how is it Pagan?

As Pagans, we deal with subtle influences, intuition, empathy.  We train ourselves to hear the voices of wind and water, to hear the spirits of place, our Ancestors, the Universe softly singing the song of Making that reverberates through all.  We train ourselves to meditation, turning consciousness inward to see with the inward eye those things which lie within our hearts and souls.  We do Shadow Work, turning toward those parts of ourselves that we’ve hidden away so that we can recognise them, embrace them, integrate what was wounded and lost, and heal from the pain that caused the separation.  All of the practises hold keys to living Health At Every Size.

One path toward developing our best relationship with our bodies is to practise intuitive eating, a practise which honours the body’s natural intelligence and ability to self-regulate.  It takes work to learn, but in time, we can learn our body’s cues, gaining the intuitive understanding of what our bodies want in terms of nutrition based on what our hunger tells us.  We can learn how to honour our sacred selves, body and spirit, to treat our bodies as the temples so many faiths hold them to be.

In order to do so, we must turn that mindfulness we develop for our spiritual practise towards the physical.  When you’re hungry, close your eyes and sit with that hunger.  Explore it.  What is it you’re hungry for?  What do you find yourself craving?  What foods do you think of that would satisfy that craving?  Explore the physical sensations of your body being hungry.  Explore the thoughts that come with those sensations.  What do they tell you?  

Turn your thoughts to how you feel about the food your body wants.  How does the idea of eating it make you feel?  What memories does that food evoke?  Do you feel like you need permission to have it?  Why?  Do you feel like you can give yourself permission to have it?  Why?

Our bodies have the same messages for us about movement.  In spiritual practise, we recognise that in order to raise energy, we have to expend energy.  In order to feel more energised in our bodies, we need to expend energy in movement.  Our bodies know when we need to move, and what sort of movement we need.  They also know when it’s time to stop.  Abby Lentz, of Heartfelt Yoga talks on her DVDs of pushing ourselves to the point of “sweet discomfort”, but never to the point of pain — that is, up to the point we need to reach to develop greater flexibility or strength, but never to the point of harm.  Our bodies know when we’re pushing too hard and we’re putting ourselves at risk, and send us sharp signals to help us avoid harm and injury.

What movement options are you doing regularly?  Do you enjoy them?  Why do you do them?  Does it feel like a chore?  A punishment?  Think about forms of movement you enjoy, that make you feel good in body and in spirit.  Would you like to do them more?  What is stopping you?  Do you feel like you need permission?  Why?  Again, do you feel like you can give yourself permission?  How can you make movement more enjoyable, easier to partake of so it can be a joyful, celebratory, and loving part of your life?

Learning to listen to our own bodies, our own spirits, is as much a Pagan practise as listening to the voices in the rain, or the communal fire.  The messages our bodies have are just as important as the voices of the land, sea, and sky… for they all call us to balance.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nimue Brown
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 05:07:39

    I think anyone who responds with ‘why is that topic pagan?’ has failed to grasp the rather critical notion that our paganism should go with us into everything we do. This is a brilliant post, really liked it, and the reclaiming of the spiritual in the physical that this wole way of thinking implies.


    • esoterikeia
      Jul 26, 2012 @ 09:24:59

      Thank you, Nimue! I completely agree: our Paganism should inform everything we do.

      How does your Paganism inform your choices about health?


      • Nimue Brown
        Jul 27, 2012 @ 05:09:15

        Primarily my non-dualistic attitude to mind/body health I think. I’ve a holistic mindset, and I see respect for my body as an aspect of my respect for the natural world as a whole. I also prefer to avoid medical chemicals where I can, prevention rather than cure etc.

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