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Better Tools for the Ongoing Work of Living Day to Day

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We helped launch Laurel Mellin's Solution as a spiritual cure for overeating, and the response was astonishing. One reader not only lost 85 pounds, he found that his deeper relationship with himself had deepened his own spirituality. Now Laurel has expanded her program of self-nurturing and setting limits to help us all maintain our equilibrium. Her tools are simple and powerful. Best of all, we know they work.

This article appeared in our December 2003 issue. National surveys and the medical literature suggest that when there is stress in our lives, about 80 percent of us go into a state of imbalance that I call being “below the line.” We become emotionally numb, or, if we manage to feel, our emotions go off the cliff into depression, hostility, rebelliousness, shame, or panic. And how do we soothe ourselves? The big four are eating, drinking, smoking, and spending. Moreover, if we are often below the line, nothing is simple. We don’t have just one problem — were depressed, at odds with our spouses, quarreling with our children, using one excess or another, feeling very much alone and even more confused. Those who live below the line tend to marvel at the 20 percent who have it easier. They spontaneously comfort themselves from within, enjoy the good life, but at some point push away from the table, pass up the next drink or cigarette, and don’t desire another purchase. They know how to stay in balance “above the line.” Other than genetics, what’s the difference between those of us who live below th …

Laurel Mellin, M.A., R.D., author of The Solution: Never Diet Again, (Regan Books) is an associate clinical professor of family and community medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.


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