The Root of Obesity
All addictions, whether
it is food, drugs, alcohol, overworking, overshopping, or over-anything,
often arise from feelings of incompleteness and trying to fill a need.
Regarding obesity, the high availability of calorie-dense foods and poor
exercise habits created by the modern age have added fuel to this fire.
We all eat at times
when we are not hungry. This can temporarily satisfy emotional needs such
as anger, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, depression, and boredom. Simple
carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, cakes, cookies, and candy are
all particularly good at medicating these feelings.
And negative emotion
by itself can make us hold onto calories also,
meaning we don't have to overeat to be overweight. Nature has conspired
to make us hold onto weight when we're stressed.
In an unending cycle,
negative emotions produce cortisol, the stress hormone, which increases
appetite, increases abdominal fat, decreases the muscle
mass needed for burning calories, and creates poor sleep. It is almost
impossible to lose weight when stressed.
While most people adopt
restrictive diets to reduce weight, this does not get to the root of the
problem and history has shown these diets to have a failure rate of approximately
A mechanism for addressing
negative emotions, since this is what we are trying to feed, is a more
fruitful approach. A methodical way for doing this is addressed in another
article on this website entitled "The
Root of Disease."
This method is reprinted
here, followed by a section on actions that
can be taken to assist the elimination of negative emotion.
EXPERIENCING YOUR EMOTIONS
All human emotions
must be fully experienced, faced, and accepted for us to be healthy. Unfortunately,
we are often unaware of our own feelings, suppressing them into our psyche
where they cannot be accessed. It is crucial to our psychological and
physical health that we regularly access and cycle through our feelings;
if they are suppressed, they become baggage that we carry around, depressing
our very experience of life.
This perspective is
not new. Thousands of years ago, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) identified
seven major emotions from which they believe all other emotions are derived.
They are joy, anger, anxiety, worry, grief, fear, and fright. It is believed
that when these emotions are unbalanced or suppressed, energy pathways
(called meridians) are disrupted. When these pathways are disrupted, physical
illness can result.
Another tradition suggests
there are seven emotional centers in the body where we actually store
our feelings. Accordingly, chronic, long-term unbalanced emotions would
disrupt our psychological life and eventually result in physical disease.
These emotions are
often suppressed and below conscious awareness. They can often be accessed,
faced, and resolved in the following way:
(Note: This exercise can bring emotions to the surface that are best
experienced with the aid of a professional therapist. Please proceed accordingly.)
The 1st Emotional Center
The 1st Emotional Center
is associated with our sense of safety in the world and our sense of belonging.
As an infant this sense is determined by how well we are welcomed into
the family and nurtured. It is believed by many that this actually starts
in the womb where the fetus starts to recognize the toxicity, or lack
thereof, of the coming environment. As we age, this sense of “fitting
in” continues through our support groups and the organizations we
become a part of. Our older years bring the insecurities regarding the
diminished capacities we experience with aging.
The primary emotion
of this center is fear—the fear of not fitting in, the fear of losing
our job, the fear of losing a relationship, the fear of having no support
group and losing our physical abilities as we age.
To access the emotions
that are stored in the 1st emotional center, the following questions should
be asked, and the resulting feelings should be faced, accepted, and released
by intensely experiencing their full impact:
• Do I feel
safe in the world?
• Do I feel like I belong?
• Do I feel secure in my job?
• Do I feel secure in my relationships?
• Do I feel I have a support system when needed?
• Or, am I alone with nowhere to turn?
The 2nd Emotional Center
As infants, the second
emotional center to develop regards relationships. As relationships develop,
we wish to maintain our own individuality, and at the same time experience
There are several currencies
that are exchanged in relationships including appreciation, money, and
sex. It is necessary that we feel appreciated for who we are and what
we bring to the relationship. We don’t want to be taken for granted.
Whether we are compensated with appreciation, money, or some other token
of gratitude, it is necessary that we feel rewarded. Whether the relationship
is sexual or non-sexual, it is important that interests be similar.
The emotions that must
be faced, accepted, and released are raised by asking the following questions:
• Am I appreciated
for what I bring to my relationships and compensated with gratitude?
• Are my mate and I equally available emotionally and sexually?
• Do my mate and I have roughly the same power, money and status?
• Does money come easily to me, freeing me from financial worry?
• Or, do I tolerate financial concerns and dysfunctional relationships
to my own detriment?
The 3rd Emotional Center
Following the development
of relationships, we go out into the world to “make our mark.”
This is our expression of individuality, and this is where we develop
career and sense of self-esteem. This center encompasses our physical
self-image (or lack thereof), and whether we are meeting our self-expectations
in the world.
The emotions that arise
from this center that must be faced, accepted, and resolved can be assessed
through the following questions:
• Am I meeting
career expectations that use all of my ability on a daily basis?
• Do I
enjoy what I am doing?
• Am I able to meet obligations and take responsibility?
• What emotions do I experience regarding my physical appearance?
The 4th Emotional Center
Eventually we reach
a point in our lives where we want a partnership where we want to be,
or act, as one. Love is the guiding principle, one of life's deepest human
needs. This is different from the 2nd emotional center where individuality
and autonomy is maintained. This center emphasizes togetherness, or oneness.
The emotions of this
center are accessed through the following questions:
• Do my partner
and I have the same passions?
• Can I skillfully express my emotions in a variety of relationships?
• Can I fully express my emotions to my partner?
• Do others nurture me as much as I nurture them?
• Do I take time for self-nurture despite my concerns and responsibilities
The 5th Emotional Center
The 5th emotional
center is associated with our ability to express ourselves and speak our
truth. When emotions arise, the option is to express them or suppress
them. But they must be expressed appropriately—at the right time,
at the right place, and with the right individual or group.
The following questions
often access emotions that must be faced and resolved:
• Can I fully
express my views to others?
• Am I afraid my views will not be well regarded?
• Can I make well-crafted observations as appropriate?
• Do I have the courage to speak my truth?
The 6th Emotional Center
The 6th emotional
center regards the mind. The mind is very similar to a muscle that must
be regularly exercised and stretched. There is much scientific evidence
that unstimulated minds, like unstimulated bodies, get sick. Health practitioners
who study aging now recommend that seniors learn foreign languages, or
play with crossword puzzles to build new circuits in the brain. More than
that, the mind needs to be flexible (just like the human body) and be
open to new viewpoints. It needs to be truly reflective.
The following questions
access emotions that must be faced, experienced, and resolved regarding
• Am I confident
in my own beliefs, yet open to the views of others?
• Am I defensive when my opinions are challenged?
• Am I happy with my intellectual accomplishments? (academics, for
• Can I listen to and trust my intuition?
• Am I more interested in being right than knowing the truth?
The 7th Emotional Center
The 7th emotional
center is associated with our sense of purpose in life. Our sense of purpose
is often given to us in our younger years. We chase careers and money,
seek romance, and raise children. These all leave us in our later years
and a sense of purpose, a reason to live, often evades us.
A sense of purpose must also be maintained with the universe. What would
the universe have for us? Are we here alone or is there some driving force,
or purpose, behind it all. We must be aligned with it.
The following questions
access emotions that must be faced and resolved:
• Do I have
a life purpose beyond my career, friends, and family?
• Do I know what the universe wants for me?
• Can I still my mind and listen for divine guidance without interference
from my own beliefs and what I want to hear?
It is no wonder that
obesity has become such a problem. Balancing each of these centers is
a lifetime pursuit.
It is important that,
like detectives, we regularly investigate the negative emotions arising
out of these centers and fully experience them, rather than medicating
them with food. Often, becoming aware of them is all it takes.
Meditation is a tremendous
resource. Gently bringing your attention to these questions and sitting
in quiet contemplation often brings negative emotions to the surface.
Fully experiencing these feelings allows them to be dissipated.
Still, the elimination
of some emotions may require real-world action. Actions that would correspond
to these centers include the following:
1st Emotional Center
- Take steps to heal your support systems so you feel you belong and that
you are safe. If dysfunctional family relationships cannot be resolved,
build new relationships with church, business, or other groups that make
you feel secure.
2nd Emotional Center
- Take steps to heal emotions such as anger, bitterness, and frustration
with partners. This may require seeing a counselor or even changing relationships.
3rd Emotional Center
- Take steps to heal emotions within you regarding your work. Are you
living up to your capabilities? Make changes within the existing work
environment to fit your needs and investigate other careers. Address esteem
issues associated with physical appearance.
4th Emotional Center
- Take time to experience all the emotions you are feeling with your partner.
Be willing to express them. Are others nurturing you as much as you are
nurturing them? Are you self-nurturing as well, setting aside time for
your own pleasure?
5th Emotional Center
- Learn to express your views appropriately rather than suppressing them.
Make your voice heard. Speak your truth.
6th Emotional Center
- Build intellectual capacity and flexibility. Consider more schooling,
reading, or traveling. Learn to meditate and be with nature. Enjoy genuine
7th Emotional Center
- Ask the big question. Does the universe have a life purpose for me that
I am following? Am I aligned with it? Listen to your intuition.
A complementary approach to addressing the weight issues associated with
stress and negative emotions is the regular practice of the DVD entitled
"A Guided Visualization
to Weight Loss and Healthy Digestion"), located on this