This is a guest blog post from Francesca Annenberg, an embodied eating disorder coach and a specialist in our microdosing coaching network. Francesca has used psychedelics, both in micro and macro doses, to support her recovery, and she teaches others how to integrate plant medicine into their own journeys.
“You can put that down. It is not part of you.”
I had been journeying with my first high dose of mushrooms and it finally clicked: my eating disorder was not who I am, and I could put it inside of a box, place it in a corner, and never carry it around with me again. It was a profound moment seeing how these habitual, oppressive food and body behaviours could simply and gently be let go.
Psychedelics have shown me that my true self is not an eating disorder; I am not eternally bound to anorexia, orthorexia, and exercise addiction. Having battled with an eating disorder for so long, I had forgotten this truth. I have returned to plant medicine to remind me of this – that the survival and adaptive strategies around food and my body had at some point been picked up, learnt, and refined, and as such, they can be put down, and replaced with other more life supporting ways of being.
What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is a smart strategy to feel safe. It is an attempted antidote against feeling unworthy. It is a misguided self-initiated endeavor. An eating disorder can numb out pain, offer relief from unwanted feelings, and soothe any sharp edges.
Eating disorders can fill in many missing holes for people. Eating disorders, like any addiction, is a process someone undergoes to help them understand their place in the world.
In the process of embarking on recovery from an eating disorder, we start to remember that we belong and that we matter – we begin to feel and embody our inherent dignity – and that our connection with our bodies and the earth is simply put, important.
Supporting Eating Disorder Recovery with Plant Medicines
Perhaps the word to use instead of “recovery” is “transformation” for one is never the same should one choose intentional healing. Resilience, awareness, grace and gratitude grow from this newly churned soil. And plant medicine can assist us in this cyclical, spiraling, evolving, shifting healing process.
For individuals with eating disorders, disordered eating, or eating adaptations, plant medicine can loosen the cognitive inflexibility and rigid thought patterns and behaviours, and open the heart – allowing people to receive and give love in ways they never believed they could feel.
Plant medicine can offer glimpses into a life without an eating disorder, helping individuals envision and embody a state of being that is free from the repressive, controlling, imposing eating disorder voice, and contracted somatic organization.
With the help of psychedelics, people can open up, mentally, emotionally, and physically, thus able to see the whole forest before them, rather than hyper-focusing on the one tree (or quarter piece of avocado).
Individuals can start to feel their body on the ground, the movements of their breath, the open parts within their body, and the parts that feel shy and scared, but that want to be seen.
Sensations can be felt.
Connections are made.
This is transformational recovery.
With eating disorders unfortunately having one of the lowest recovery rates and highest death rates of any mental condition, the healing process can be long, requiring patience, perseverance, fortitude, and faith. These are things we learn, sitting alongside these sacred plant allies, our supporters, who are walking next to us, meeting us where we are at, reminding us (as often as we need to) to keep showing up, because this is the deep work our soul and the Earth are asking for.
Indeed, an eating disorder can touch almost every part of one’s life, pervasively, and it can feel overwhelming to see it all or figure out where to begin. And yet, the plants are there, close by, letting us know recovery is possible.
Microdosing for Eating Disorders
The practice of microdosing for eating disorders can ground us back into the present moment. It can help us come into contact and start to trust the messages from the body, recommit to our healing, and ask the medicine how we can be service. In serving the medicine, we learn to serve ourselves – something that individuals with disordered eating often struggle to do.
Microdosing for eating disorders should be done slowly as one learns how to be with the body as sensations and emotions can be amplified when with the medicine.
Building tolerance and capacity to be with the present moment is what the medicine is teaching us. Uniting body, heart and mind into coherent ease is what we are practicing to embody.
And this is work. And this is what we choose to show up to again and again.
I now know recovery is possible. The change in belief from “recovery is not possible” to “recovery is possible” has fundamentally changed my trajectory of healing and relationship with plant medicine.
I lean into and trust the process, my body, and the support – in all the myriad of forms – that surround and hold me.
Supporting Practices for your Microdosing and Transformation Journey
With that, I would love to leave you with some journal questions as you continue walking this brave, bold, beautiful, magical, chaotic, messy, rewarding, enriching path that we call life:
- What does recovery mean to you?
- What would it take for “your” eating disorder to let you go?
- What is the kind of relationship you would like to build with your plant or psychedelic ally?
Finally, here is a prayer for anyone walking this transformational recovery road (this prayer came to
me after an Ayahuasca ceremony where once again I was shown another layer of how my eating disorder tendencies play out):
When I have nothing to defend, I am safe.
When I release attachments and loosen the grip,
When I push off the shores and no longer cling to the sides of the muddy banks,
When I release my jaw, relax my shoulders, and soften my belly and pelvic floor,
When I stand with my palms open, my heart space in a state of receptivity and my being residing in equanimity,
I am safe
And I am free.