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From Kitchen Stool to Meditation Cushion

Eat

Thinkstock: michaeljung

After years of eating compulsively, the author learned that prayer makes it possible to sit down on a meditation cushion and to be a guest at a feast.

This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 1999 issue of Spirituality & Health. One woman’s story of how prayer really does feed the soul Seventeen years ago, my eating disorder reached a crisis. I was 30 years old and I'd been bingeing off and on since adolescence, compensating for my bouts of greed with strict regimens of dieting and fasting, plus endless miles of compulsive running. By the spring of 1982, I was desperate. I felt trapped, with no way out. When a counselor urged me to explore prayer as one part of recovery, I was skeptical. I hadn't been to church in years and had no use for religion. How could something as intangible as prayer address an eating disorder as intractable as mine? Wasn't that line about prayer "feeding" the soul just a fantasy, only wishful thinking? I can see now that under the skepticism, I was also afraid. What would happen if I stopped running from the pain that I'd been burying with food for so many years? Could I bear to face my emptiness? Could I bear to sit in silence and let myself feel the anger and sorrow that I'd been swallowing all my li …

Margaret Bullitt-Jonas is the author of Holy Hunger: A Memoir of Desire (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999). She teaches courses on prayer at Episcopal Divinity School. An Episcopal priest, she serves as associate rector of All Saints Parish, in Brookline, MA.


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