Written by Carine from Scotland

I have been volunteering at the Healing Castle for five weeks now. At the same time as helping with the hotel, I have been very lucky to receive guidance from Ingrid. One of the most significant things she has helped me with is changing my relationship with food. A few days ago, I wrote about the way I was feeling just after eating a delicious dessert. I’d like to share this with you here…

My heart has been beating fast with excitement. I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I really feel like anything is possible, everything is calm, and all is right, just the way it is. I feel light, free and released. I recently came to Ingrid with an issue that has affected me since childhood. I had grown up around the belief that food should be consumed with great attention spent to quantity, calories and nutritional content, and that some foods were very “bad” and should be avoided. In late teenage years, I reduced the amount of food I ate considerably. Up until my arrival here, I was constantly thinking about what I had eaten so far in the day. This problem was robbing me of time and energy.

When I asked Ingrid how to change this so I no longer let food have such control over my life, she asked me to sit down at the kitchen table and eat a whole packet of chocolate biscuits! She told me to enjoy them. I was really taken aback but forced myself to eat them, trying to enjoy the taste. Once I had managed to finish the packet, Ingrid asked how I was feeling. I felt panicky. My heart was beating quickly out of worry and I was so anxious, nervous and scared.

Ingrid told me to stand up straight with my arms outstretched, breathing deeply, keeping my posture open. She asked me to think of a place where I feel the most relaxed and happy. For me, this is a warm, sunny beach in Greece. As I really placed myself there, feeling the boiling sun and the sand between my toes, I felt expansive and light. The sensation of panic gradually lessened until it disappeared and I was calm again, back in real life and able to work in the present moment.

Since this, I have been practising the technique each time I eat. It is easier to do when I am on my own, or in a relaxed setting, and can fully concentrate on “the beach feeling”. And while at the moment, I have to consciously make an effort to do this, eating is beginning to feel more and more ordinary and unimportant. In the past, I believed food was something I was up against, and had to conquer. Now it is starting to represent the fuel necessary for the body and mind to function properly, as well as something to savour and enjoy.

This brings me to this feeling of excitement I have right now, sitting by the fountain having finished my dessert. Immediately after eating it, negative thoughts and feelings crept in, uninvited. And when I positioned myself on the beach, and really felt that I was there, not only did the worries vanish, feelings of joy and hope and aliveness took their place. Now I feel full of energy. My heart is beating loudly and clearly. I feel like I can do anything.