What's the F***ing Point episode 07: Sarah Jane Chapman on Body Liberation, Yoga, and Spirituality

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Sarah Jane Chapman, a massage therapist, yoga teacher, and heart-of-gold human who I am lucky to call a friend.

In the conversation, Sarah Jane and I delved into: 

  • why she believes “yoga always wins” and how her personal practice and teaching have evolved
  • how getting diagnosed with diabetes further complicated her eating disorder
  • the practice that was most transformational in healing her mindset from toxic diet culture
  • spending time in nature, gardening, sustainable farming, and seasonal eating as ways of connecting with spirituality and honoring our interconnectedness with the earth
  • making the tarot relevant and useful in day-to-day life 

And just an audio heads up — on the morning we were recording, Sarah Jane was having some laptop issues and used her phone instead for the recording, so there were a few vibrations in the second half of the interview, but not too bad. 

To listen to this episode, you can stream or download from the embedded player below, or find and subscribe in your fave podcast listening app. 

Thanks for listening, and if you dig, please share it with a friend and review the podcast on iTunes

About Sarah Jane Chapman 

Sarah Jane Chapman was born in Upstate New York where she would spend her days climbing trees and laying in the grass. She started practicing yoga at age 14, which helped her through some of the most difficult times of her life. In 2012, she traveled to Rishikesh, India where she became certified in Hatha Yoga, and shortly thereafter moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Wanting to offer more to students and expand her knowledge of the body, Sarah Jane attended the Mind Body Institute in 2015 to begin her work as a massage therapist. She now offers a plethora of body work and Reiki, as well as astrology and tarot readings. Sarah Jane lives in east Nashville with her husband and pitbull, still climbing trees and laying in the grass. You can follow her wanderings on Instagram @sarahjanechap

Mentioned on Today's Show:

check out my interview on the HeartSpace podcast!

A little while back, I got to have a juicy conversation with the sweet, smart, and multi-talented Corinne Dobbas (a dietitian + dating coach) on her podcast, HeartSpace.

The episode with my interview went live today, and it was fun to listen back and remember all the good stuff we got into! We cover a broad range of stuff, from Buffy (yuuuup) to trauma to body+self acceptance. 

Head over to your favorite podcast app and check it out! <3

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Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at The Ranch residential treatment center, where she works with eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. Valerie focuses on a holistic treatment approach of mind + body integration, using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), somatic and bioenergetic therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychodrama, 12-step, and shame resilience. She is also a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) Candidate. Valerie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin. She is an active member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, and emphasizes spiritual exploration in her work with clients.

how to deal with negative body image & anxiety

how to deal with negative body image & anxiety

Below is the beginning of a post I contributed to Recovery Warriors, a badass online magazine for eating disorder recovery.To read the full post, click here.

Here’s a glimpse into a pretty common dialogue that shows up in various ways in my work with clients who are navigating eating disorder recovery (usually alongside depression and anxiety). I’ll call this fictional client “Brit”. 

Brit: “I was feeling really crappy yesterday.”
Me: “Yeah? What kind of stuff you were thinking or feeling?”
Brit: “I don’t know, really, it was just inner critic stuff and anxiety I guess.”
Me: “So if I could have plugged headphones into your brain at that moment, what are some of the thoughts I would have heard?”
Brit: “Hmm… maybe like that I have a lot of demands on me at work that I’m worried about, and that I was bad for not making it to the gym that day and eating a bigger lunch."
Me: “Gotcha. And what about the feelings, like emotions or stuff in your body? 
Brit: “Just anxiety like kind of a pressure in my chest, I can feel it some now just talking about it.”
Me: “Can you describe it more, what it feels like right now?”
Brit: “It’s kind of hot in my chest, and a little queasy in my stomach, and my shoulders are tense.”
Me: “Right now, does it feel okay for that feeling to be there?”
Brit: “I don’t really like it, but yeah, I guess so.”
Me: “Just see if you can breathe into those places, your stomach, your chest, and your shoulders, without needing to change or fix them. And are any of those thoughts showing up right now?”
Brit: “A little bit, but not as much. I think it helped just saying them a minute ago.”
Me: “Nice! Sometimes all it takes is just breaking it down a little bit to understand more about what’s going on with you instead of just having that vague sense of ‘yuck.’” 

(I’d go further with her on this, but this part is enough to illustrate my point for now.)

I see those heads nodding in recognition! (Says my clairvoyant alter-ego) —and believe me, this is very much still an ongoing practice for me, too. Whether it’s a specific event that triggers it, or a thought or feeling that shows up first, often I have to intentionally step back and break down piece-by-piece to get clear on what’s going on with me, as I walked through above. 

(To continue reading, head on over to Recovery Warriors!)

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using guided imagery to heal in recovery

using guided imagery to heal in recovery

How to use guided imagery as a tool in your recovery from an eating disorder, addiction, or trauma

Many of the most powerful experiences I’ve witnessed in session with my clients have in some way involved guided imagery. If that sounds a little new-age woo-woo for you, stick with me for a minute.

As psychologists Judith Rabinor and Marion Bilich write in Effective Clinical Practice in the Treatment of Eating Disorders, “Focused imagery, in a relaxed state of mind, has been shown to positively affect medical conditions such as cancer, to improve self-regulatory capacities such as heart rate and blood pressure, and to enhance performance in a wide variety of fields (Naparstek, 1995).”

So what exactly is guided imagery? Basically, it’s an umbrella term for any type of focused imaginative exercise that incorporates one or more of the senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, kinesthetic, and tactile). You can do some types of guided imagery on your own, and others are easier with a therapist or other trained practitioner directing the exercise in a group or one-on-one setting.

Rabinor and Bilich continue, “We have found that guided imagery is a powerful but underutilized tool that can transform one’s clinical work no matter what one’s theoretical orientation… Imagery is the language of the unconscious. It has long been known that imagery techniques tap into that deep level of consciousness that cannot be accessed by words alone, giving voice to the unconscious thoughts and feelings that may affect behavior.”

In my experience, guided imagery — especially when used in conjunction with evidence-based treatments like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or Internal Family Systems (IFS) — can help people access deeper layers of awareness, insight, and healing than they’re able to reach with purely cognitive approaches.

EMDR with a Therapist

With EMDR, a widely-renowned trauma therapy modality, imagery is a key component of the protocol. While it’s important to allow space for the client’s experience to organically flow where it needs to, a well-trained therapist can deepen the healing work by skillfully guiding the client through the session, often involving rescuing or reparenting the younger wounded self.

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Self-Care for Activists: Stand Up for What Matters — Including Yourself

Self-Care for Activists: Stand Up for What Matters — Including Yourself

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

Let me begin with this: I want you to know that, whatever your political stances, whoever you may cast your ballot or show support for, I respect you.

I respect you simply because I respect anyone who is trying to follow their heart and do what they think is right. With that said, our present reality is indisputably one of the most divisive moments in recent decades, both within and outside the United States. And it has become a time when more people than any other moment in my lifetime are getting off their couches and becoming activists in their own right. 

Even if you don’t identify as an activist regarding the political climate in the U.S., you may be an activist in other ways — whether it’s being a champion for the environment, animals, or kids, taking a stand against fat shaming, or any number of important causes. 

Standing Up for What Matters

It is my belief that part of living a fully engaged life includes standing up for what matters to you, whatever that might be. When you’re in an active eating disorder or other addiction, you could be the most compassionate person on the planet, but 50-90% of your headspace and energy may go toward supporting your ED/addiction — leaving little time and energy left to split between living your life and standing up for what matters most to you. 

This does not make you a bad person at all — it makes you a person with a mental illness who needs appropriate treatment. You simply cannot give if you are depleted. 

The words at the beginning of this post are by Audre Lorde (1934-1992), self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and a well-known feminist and civil rights activist. As she so wisely described, taking care of ourselves is not self-indulgent, but rather, a necessary component of our activism. And they go hand-in-hand: self-care is an important part of your activism, and activism is an important part of your self-care. 

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