Spirituality and the Psychology of Self-Image

By: Kim Watkinson

May 9th, 2019

Spirituality and the Psychology of Self-Image


Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (PAL&G) is seeing a stream of fantabulous speakers in 2019. Tuesday, May 21 is no exception. At 7:30 pm Dr. Romi Ran and Dr. Paul Kaye will facilitate a workshop entitled Spirituality and the Psychology of Self-Image.

Dr. Romi Ran received a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Oxford. At Harvard University she pioneered studies on self-harm and suicide. Dr. Ran is also an eating disorders specialist.

Dr. Paul Kaye is the co-author with MSIA Founder John-Roger of Living the Principles of Health and Wellbeing. He’s also a popular meditation teacher, sound journey artist AND YouTube star of Sugar Rant. (It hasn’t cured my penchant for frosted carbs. But it’s given me pause and influenced the quantity consumed.) You can read more about Paul and his tips to happiness and good health here.

What follows is a synopsis of my chat with Dr. Ran (who prefers to be called Romi.) Wondering about Romi’s motivation for entering the field of eating disorder psychology, I asked, “Did you ever have an issue with body image or weight?”

Romi’s background is clearly scientific sprinkled with a generous dose of spirituality: “Thankfully no diagnosable eating disorder,” she says. “My journey with eating disorders early on was studying the mechanisms, restricting and how self-love and kindness (can shape a) relationship with (one’s) body and eating.”

Self Harm, Suicide and Eating Disorders

Q: Does your Harvard research about self-harm dovetail with your current focus of eating disorders? Do you find a correlation between the desire to do harm to oneself and over or under eating?

A: Absolutely. It is self-injurious behavior. Eating disorders are a form of self-harm.

Challenging Patients

Q: My novice understanding of the work of a psychologist is to uncover denied or latent feelings of anger, rage, envy, guilt and all those shadow parts of a personality. Do you find it is harder or more of a challenge working with those on a spiritual path? After all, “spiritual” people are supposed to be forgiving and transcend negative feelings.

A: (Adamantly, Romi says) I never encourage cutting off emotions. Spirituality is not cutting things off. I might (however) offer a different perspective on feelings.

Honesty is a key. The people I’ve met who are on a spiritual path (can be) more reflective (and ready to) introspect. Spirituality – It’s not a light switch.

Writer’s Note: At this point, I was swept up in Romi’s wisdom, compassion and commitment to healing work. The following is not an exact quote.

Successful strategies can be taught to those who are not on a spiritual path. However, when the ego is strong and a consciousness is closed off, therapy is more challenging. Ultimately healing comes from some kind of belief in a greater power.

Healing & Treatment Plans

Q: Your method and approach to treatment?

A: The presentation (of an eating disorder) looks similar but the mechanisms are different. So too are the treatments. There are flavors (of eating disorders): One may have a problem with food due to sexual abuse, another may have been an alcoholic and then turned to food.

I take a holistic approach:  Awaken and uncover patterns and (look at) early age development. (I employ) lots of modalities, CST (Cognitive Simulation Therapy) anger management and other helpful strategies.

Spirituality and the Psychology of Self-Image Sampler

Q: Are you willing to give us a taste, a sampler of the event on May 21?

A: My goal is to help people awaken to an understanding of eating and their bodies. (I’ll be teaching) new approaches of how to listen to their bodies; to understand physical hunger and when to stop eating. How, when, what to eat – not another diet plan! Mindful eating. Anybody who hands you a plan – no matter how nicely packaged – is (handing you) a diet. (This workshop is designed so you can) be your own guru.

For tickets, visit PeaceLabyrinth.org/Events

~Kim Watkinson

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