Eating Disorder Treatment- Complementary Therapies Part 3- Meditation

Dear Readers,

Please find another series in Life after Eating Disorder Treatment: Complimentary Therapies, Meditation.

The Renewing of your Mind

Meditation is a way of working with the mind. It can help to relax and calm the mind, helping to reduce the feelings of fear, pain, anxiety and depression. Regular meditation practice can help people feel more in control of themselves and their lives. Many studies have shown that regular meditation reduces the pulse rate, lowers blood pressure and reduces the level of stress chemicals in the body.

Learning to Meditate

There are many different types and styles of meditation. Please find the one that works best for you. Some hospitals and support groups offer meditation sessions.

Me and Meditation

I Started doing Meditation two years ago, right after London Olympics. I had just come out of hospital and the problem was not my physical health but my disordered mind.  People with Anorexia Nervosa are difficult to treat, this is simply because of difficulties with set shifting/Cognitive Flexibility, inability to take in/accept New Information and problems with willingness to change. A person is so locked up in calories, shape and weight that their mind simply becomes paralyzed and they can’t seem to take a step back and find motivation to change their beliefs and go for life they deserve to live.

I was trying new methods of treatment from Chinese to Buddhist to Homeopathy, everything. I joined International School of Sufi Teachings and started meditating twice a day. Once after Fajr Early Morning Prayer and then after Evening Prayer. Meditation is a practice of Sufi Teachers.

 In Sufism you have to make certain sacrifices: Killing your ED, Changing your attitude and behavioral patterns, Letting go of unhealthy beliefs and taking into account your inner higher self. As I started to meditate I realized how my beliefs were not just destroying me, but also destroying the people around me. It was very painful for my family to watch me die such a slow painful death. Once I started to realize and accept my negative thought process, I channeled all my energy into shifting my thinking and turning negative into positive. Two years ago, I said to my father, “If you think, a day will come, where I’ll be able to chew and swallow a solid food, then think of that day as a miracle.” They say miracles happen and for me to break out of that imprisonment of numbers and calories and negative thinking is indeed a miracle.

Today, when people come across me, they’ve no idea that I suffered from Anorexia or I spent more than half of my life in a slavery to the Demon of Eating Disorder.


Muraqaba (Meditation) in Sufism

Points below have been taken from: Turning Toward the Heart- Awakening to the Sufi Way. p 98-100

Experience over centuries has shown that Muraqabah leads to all stages of perfection.

The origin of the Meditation lies in the saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), “Adore Allah as if you are seeing Him, know that He is seeing you.”

Literally, Muraqabah means to wait or and to guarantee to protect. When used as a Sufi technical term, its meaning varies among orders. The Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi order defines Muraqbah most simply as sitting with one’s eyes closed and and waiting for the blessings from the Holy Essence (Allah, the Source of all blessings and bounties). It is the art of withdrawing from the external stimuli of the world and redirecting one’s attention toward God via the transmission and niyahs (intentions) received from one’s Shaykh (teacher).

Muraqbah has been defined as the flow of consciousness to the  Divine. It is conscious involvement, not unconscious relaxation. It is being aware of the qualities that are being activated inwardly in the moment. Another definition of Muraqabah is vigilance. Vigilance means attentiveness: a vigil is period of time which one remains attentive.

Muraqabah implies voluntarily opening oneself to transformation. In Muraqabah, those who follow the Sufi path strive to be nothing other than what they most truly are. Hazrat Azad Rasool

Some mystical schools regard quietening the mind as the ultimate attainment. When one is able to empty the mind of thoughts, worries subside; one feels at peace. Equating this sense of peace with spiritual realization, many techniques focus on controlling the thoughts. 

How Meditation Helped Me

In the silence of Muraqabah, all the distractions, disturbances, inner dialogues, doubts, fears, and contradictions of the mind become still.  Hazrat Azad Rasool

Meditation enabled me to let go off the rigid control I had over my life. It enabled me to Eustress and Distress.

The ED behaviors were replaced by Meditation. For example, the behaviors used to purge calories and the panic after meal times was dealt by sitting in meditation for 40 minutes. For 40 -45minutes you are with God and though demon whispers to you and tries to convince you that you need to get up, your body is becoming fat, and that you need to go and purge, with time you learn these are mere thoughts and thoughts do not have the power to harm you.

Sitting in Muraqabah is a form of renunciation, but it is renunciation daily for forty minutes, one is asked to turn away from the world for that period of time, to pay attention to something else. For forty minutes, one turns one’s back on daily affairs. One entrusts all matters to God, and God takes care of anything. Hazrat Azad Rasool

Meditation enabled me to explore the process of loosening the chains.

Little by little, the practice of Muraqabah reconditions the entire being. Hazrat Azad Rasool

I learned the art of forgiving myself. When I was deep down in my ED, I just couldn’t forgive myself.

I learned to connect with myself.

I learned about the power of love. The love of Allah, His Prophets, His Angels and His Creation.

There is nothing more phenomenal than one’s own transformation. To become saintly is the greatest phenomenon. The power of compassion, peace and love is the greatest compassion. Hazrat Azad Rasool

I became aware of my irrational thinking/thought process. In ED, we are always talking to Demon inside us and this affects our unconscious mind. Our thoughts are a stream of constant self-doubt and self-criticism. So as I sat in Meditation, I listened to what the demon of ED was telling me, and I asked myself one day, are they really founded in fact? For years, I was acting on these beliefs as if they were instructions and then with time I started to contradict and challenge all of these beliefs.

I learned about messages in my mind, messages that harm and messages that heal. I learned to reject everything that is unhealthy and work towards opening myself to everything that is positive and that which favors my spiritual, mental and physical health. So next time I found myself thinking something negative about myself, I replaced it with something beautiful, something positive that supported my recovery goal.

“Positive thinking and pleasant emotions increase my vitality and improve my health.” Matthew Manning

Prior to Meditation and embarking on inner journey of self-discovery, I was a very quiet and a very secretive person. They say language of ED is silence and I exercised this silence fully. No one had any idea what was brewing inside me. I broke the silence on ED.

Once I started to discover my-self, I was petrified, it was all in a sharp contrast to the ED world I lived in. But all I can say is, Alhamdulilah, after two years, I’m definitely in a much much better place in my life. I’m strong and Alhamdulilah my Mind is no longer in imprisonment.


Next In Complimentary Therapies,  I will talk about Physical Therapies. Thank you For Reading!