The mind-body disconnect

July 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

The subtitle to this entry could be something along the lines of “the weight-loss trap.”

Losing weight, if you’ve ever done it before (and, really, who hasn’t?), is extremely tricky business. In addition to the ever continuous motivation battle (“I should get up and go work out…but I’m really tired today…but working out will wake me up…”) to the ever continuous dietary battle (“I’m really craving more…but I know it’ll make me sick…but still, it looks really good…”), there’s the herky-jerky progression through the mind-body opposition. Overall, I’ve emerged the victor of my individual motivation and dietary battles. I’ve lost 23 pounds since February, which is a fairly obvious indicator of the work I’ve done.

But then there’s that herky-jerky problem. At the ashram, we learned about the distinction between the mind, body, and spirit. The speaker explained that when we describe a physical experience, we often use the phrase “I.” “I’m sick” instead of “my body is sick.” “I’m really sore” instead of “my muscles are sore.” “I’m tired” instead of “my body is tired.” You get the idea. The mind is distinct from the spirit because the mind is what gives us limitations. “I can’t stretch like that.” “I can’t lose the weight.” “I can’t succeed in my career.” The spirit is a bit quieter, but it’s the spirit that initiates the desires in the first place. We have to reclaim our spirit’s influence by silencing the mind and acknowledging the body’s needs.

At least, this is what the ashram teaches.

Here’s my struggle with the mind-body disconnect. Last night, as an example, we went out to dinner with Robert’s family to celebrate his mom and grandma’s birthdays. (His mom was born on his grandma’s birthday.) Before we left, we had to run a few errands, which meant that we got home later than we needed to, which meant that we didn’t have a lot of time to get changed. Getting dressed in anything other than workout clothes is the most dreaded part of my day. And I had to do it twice yesterday. The frustration with losing weight is making it to the in-between. My clothes from last year no longer fit well and hang loosely off my body. I look dumpy in them. Occasionally I can shop in my closet for smaller clothes, but there are still times when shopping in my closet proves fruitless.

I can only explain the paradoxical phenomenon with the phrase “mind-body disconnect.” Surely something is happening upstairs that refuses to allow me to see myself for the way I truly look. Robert constantly reassures me and points out my mini-successes. We’ll even stand in front of the mirror together so that he can literally point out the differences in the hopes that I will see them, too. He’s such a patient, kind soul. Right now I’m in a place where my mind is truly attempting to sabotage me. I struggle to see the success I know I’ve made. I know I’ve achieved because the clothes literally don’t fit anymore. But when it’s just me in front of the mirror, no clothes to use as a true indicator, I don’t see it. I see the same problems, the same obstacles, the same disappointments.

My greatest hope is that with time, I’ll eventually see the successes on my own. My greatest fear is that I won’t.

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