Taking a Pause to Sustain Recovery

March 24, 2020

The rules governing an eating disorder include a focus on body distortions, obsessive thoughts and a quest for perfection. When our body speaks, but our mind is not listening, conflict is created. Sustaining recovery requires reclaiming an authentic connection with ones’ own self – that includes awakening the ability to envision new ideas and bring forth unique solutions and options you might have been unaware of previously.

This pathway might be rocky at first, but empowering yourself to lean into uncomfortable feelings can awaken and lead you toward unique opportunities for growth to emerge. It is important to understand creative problem-solving can lead to managing your discomfort and emotional distress.

In my search for a quote or essay to support the perspective that “pausing is an important experience of living,” initially I was unable to find the right words to express my beliefs. Just when I was about to give up my search, I came upon this quote by the poet Tara Estacaan and thought her words were just right. She wrote:

“A pause gives you breathing space so listen to the whispers of the real you waiting to happen.”

Living IN our body requires connection with our authentic self and reclaiming connection with inner feelings and sensations. Finding a safe space in which to pause allows us to catch our breath and decrease our anxiety. Resonating with our” SELF” when we are overwhelmed and locked into chaos can always help us, particularly during difficult times like we are all experiencing. When you welcome opportunities for creativity and spontaneity to emerge, authenticity, growth and a sense of well-being are activated.

Create a soothing space where you can anchor yourself comfortably. Make it safe enough to allow access to all your feelings. Surround your special space with objects you like – soft pillows for support, photos of loved ones for a reminder you are not alone and, for inspiration, positive affirmations. If you have a pet, bring your pet into the space to sit near you and join you in the pausing moment. Use instrumental music that is slow and soothing to frame your experience. Remind yourself you trust and believe in yourself.

Adapt a quote or affirmation and say it out loud- perhaps something like the one written above by Tara Estacaan:

“My pause will give me breathing space to listen to the whispers of the real me waiting to happen. I can transform my fears by making this difficult moment into an opportunity.”

Another option I use is from the work of Lashawnda Jones, an author committed to expressing her truths:

“Sometimes getting to the other side seems impossible. You know there’s a way. You can actually see the steps in your mind – but it all seems out of reach. Pause. Relax. Remember to do what you can in the moment you’re in. Before long, you’ll arrive at your destination ready for the next challenge.”

Quiet your thoughts and let your body lead you in rhythm with the music you have chosen. Create a short movement phase and repeat the movement to experience a sense of calm.

Try the following example:
• Sway slowly from side to side, two or three times.
• Then lean forward followed by leaning back.
• Finish by anchoring yourself in the middle.
• Repeat this sequence slowly several times to get the feel of the movement in your body.
• End your pausing moment with an uplifting movement that feels right to you.
• Repeat the sequence several times and make sure to maintain a mindful focus on your intention.

Take a few moments to experience the calm you have created and then decode what came to light for you. Identify something that has helped you feel hopeful during this pause and keep it in your “mind’s eye.” You may want to journal or draw about your experience as a reminder you can transform difficult times into positive experiences.


Susan Kleinman, MA, BC-DMT, NCC, CEDS-S, is the Creative Arts Therapy Supervisor and Dance/Movement Therapist at The Renfrew Center of Florida.

The Renfrew Center, celebrating its 35th Anniversary, has been the pioneer in the treatment of eating disorders since 1985. As the nation’s first residential eating disorder facility, now with 19 locations throughout the country, Renfrew has helped more than 85,000 adolescent girls and women with eating disorders and other behavioral health issues move towards recovery. To learn more about The Renfrew Center, please visit www.renfrewcenter.com.