By Jane Hanna Stoudt
Standing on the beach with the sand gently massaging in between my toes, I breathed in the salty beach air with fullness and raised my hands above my head. My gaze steadily fixated on the horizon. Slowly moving through each posture, I allowed the energy within me to release out into the great big sea in front of me. I am healed. I am not broken. I am full in the glorious light of my Creator and life truly is good. Six months prior I was told I would never walk again as doctors told me the grave news that I had Multiple Sclerosis. Determined to prove them wrong, I studied natural ways to heal and came across the connection between food and spirituality. My spirit knew this was my path and I dove in with the vigor of a fully armored warrior fighting for her life.
While researching, I came across a quote that struck a chord in my searching soul. In Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating, the authors said, “Food to a large extent is what holds a society together, and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences.” From that point forward, I found myself devouring any information I could find that linked spirituality and food. Deep within my soul I knew my healing would come in this manner. I found that spiritual practices and food were commonly used throughout religious history. Fasting was one such aspect that piqued my interest and I began my first juice fast shortly after.
As I introduced the energy from raw fruits and vegetables to my aching and tired body, I found myself feeling drained and sluggish. The first three days were a horrendous struggle. I held on and meditated my way through the pain. Deep breathing became my solace as I repeated healing prayers and meditations I had written before I began the fast. On the fourth day, I woke with a bounding energy I had not had in a long time. It was as if I could feel the energy of the greens coursing through my veins. Hope filled my soul and in that moment healing began.
Over the next six months I strengthened my relationship with food. Before beginning my healing journey, the destructive nature of my association with food had encouraged illness, both physically and mentally. I was learning to love food and in return I was choosing foods that loved me. My spirituality and food relations intertwined into a giving life force that fueled my daily choices. Within three months I was no longer in a wheelchair and within 5 months I was no longer using crutches. With my renewed ability to move I enjoyed yoga and deep breathwork in places I thought I would not easily be able to return to, like the beach.
Gratitude became my constant companion. The thankfulness I felt in my heart fired up the healing process even more. Day by day my strength improved. My mind found a deeper clarity and on this day I walked fearlessly to the water’s edge and released any doubts I had into the vast space of my Creator. The energy in those healthy foods had renewed the energy within me and for that I would be forever grateful.
 Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating , by Peter Farb and George Armelagos (Houghton Mifflin, 1980)
Guest writer Jane Hanna Stoudt is an author and yoga therapist specializing in encouraging women in their journey of healing. Connect with her on Instagram @janehannastoudt or her website www.janehannastoudt.com