Be The Witness, Not The Judge

The Body Is the Feeler of Emotions and Sensations. The Mind Is the Thinker of Thoughts. The Witness Is the Observer of All.

~ Sensei Shane Phelps

What does this have to do with eating disorder recovery?

Lots, I think!

When you enter into the process of recovery, which in my mind means the moment you recognize some discomfort and have a desire to walk away from it, you detach yourself from one thing and begin to attach yourself to another.

It can be an incredibly painful process. It can also be scary as hell.

It’s sort of like jumping a wide chasm between two towering buildings. There are ultimately three positions you take. One is where you’re currently standing, the place that you’ve always been but now you are aware that you have to go. The next is the space between where you are and where you want to go. And the other is the place where you finally land.

Standing where you currently are, you see the huge, gaping space between you and your destination. It’s terrifying. But, you’ve still got one foot on the ground, you’re still in control.

There is a moment, though, when both feet leave the ground, when you fly through the air and feel like a champion. It feels amazing to have the wind blow through your hair. There’s a beautiful sense of freedom!

And then, you land. Hard. No one ever lands on the other building in one leap – it would defy the laws of physics to do so. Yet, that seems to be the expectation. And so, when you land in a battered heap on the ground below, the feeling of shame and anger ramps up.

Torn down, you climb back up to the beginning to try again.

Over, and over, and over, you try. Continuously falling short of the desired landing zone. With each attempt, you begin to doubt your ability to cross the great divide.

But, you’ve lost sight of a critical detail…that each time you’ve jumped, you’ve arrived at a point that is far closer to your desired destination.

What if, instead of starting over, you accepted your progress and continued on your journey from the spot where you landed? After all, what’s the end goal? Is it to arrive at the destination in one leap or is the goal to arrive at the destination, period?

I suppose it depends on each person.

For me though, after trying to arrive at a different place in pristine working order, without a mark or a scratch on me, I realized I’d lost sight of the true objective and that by trying to defy natural laws, I was holding myself back.

The last time I leapt, I landed, yet again, in a battered and beat up pile. But, instead of letting my mind think defeat and my body feel pain, I let my mind think progress and my body feel motion.

I accepted where I was. I took time to heal and repair the damage. I also allowed myself time to sit back and observe.

As I sat without seeking, things I hadn’t even known that were part of the picture came into my awareness.

The situation didn’t seem so bleak anymore. I saw doorways and pathways that continued on, heading in the direction that I wanted to go. Granted, I didn’t know where they led to but they were, in fact, options that gave me the opportunity to keep moving forward. Some were dead ends but, again, by allowing my awareness to remain open, I was shown new doors that otherwise would have remained closed.

I eventually got to the other building, though I didn’t do it in one giant, heroic leap. And, the funny part is, that once I got there, I realized there was still further to go. A lot further!

Being heroic lost its appeal. Tiny, gentle steps were going to allow me to keep progressing and be able to endure the distance of the journey. And, as it turns out, far better than all the acts of heroism ever could.

I would be shown the way.

By allowing myself time to observe, I allowed myself to receive far greater direction that my mind alone could ever have mapped out.

There are a great many lessons to be learned in patience and stillness. Craft those skills and watch what happens.

Be the witness, not the judge!

Coming soon…the Starving ED podcast!

There is an old story that says each of us has two wolves battling inside of us. One is the fear wolf and the other is the courage wolf. From my perspective, the two wolves are the eating disorder wolf and the recovery wolf. And, the one that wins is the one you feed.

My goal with the podcast is to feed the recovery wolf in all of us, by sharing stories from people just like you, people whose lives have been affected by an eating disorder and who are living the best lives they can in spite of it, and who continue to manage adversity and fear by tapping into their natural abilities of strength, kindness, courage, and perseverance.

If you are someone who has lived with an eating disorder, or is currently living with an eating disorder, and you’re interested in being a guest on the podcast, please get in touch at

To be notified of the Starving ED podcast launch, subscribe to our email list to receive info on our latest news and updates.

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