About Dr. Anita Johnston

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So far Dr. Anita Johnston has created 40 entries.

There’s meaning to what you eat!

There’s meaning to what you eat
Hello Dr. Anita Johnston here.

I’m at the Little Theater in Epidaurus and I’m going to tell you the story about Demeter & Persephone.

There were once these two goddesses.
Demeter was the mother goddess, and her daughter’s name was Persephone.

The story goes that they were very, very close. They did everything together; they went everywhere together. One day, they were out in a meadow and they were picking some flowers. As Demeter turned her back to reach for some flowers, Persephone was reaching for a (get this), narcissist flower. Just in that very moment, the earth ripped open and up came Hades with a chariot being pulled by four black horses. He snatched Persephone and took her into the Underworld. Demeter turned around and said, “Where’s my daughter? Where’s Persephone? She’s gone!” She was frantic.

She went to all the gods and goddesses and said, “Have you seen Persephone? Persephone’s gone!” The gods and goddesses said, “We don’t know.” She went to Zeus, who was the king of the gods. Zeus said, “I don’t know where she is. I don’t know!”, which really wasn’t true because Zeus had had a part in all of this. He knew that she was in the Underworld with Hades.

Demeter fell into a huge depression. She was so upset; she could not get over the loss of her daughter. Demeter (whose name in Roman times was Ceres), was the goddess of the grain and the harvest (which is where we get our word for cereal). She was so full of despair, that as a result, the trees stopped producing fruits. The olive trees were no longer bringing forth any olives. The grasses were not producing any grains. […]

Healing by telling your story

Healing by telling your story
Hello Dr. Anita Johnston here.

I am at the theater in Epidaurus, the great healing center. This amphitheater could seat 14,000 people. From the very top of this amphitheater, you can see how vast it is. The acoustics are such that all the way down in the center, they say you can hear a penny drop.

You can imagine what it would be like to be there and find your voice at the very center of the amphitheater, where the orators would stand – where you could come to find your voice, to speak the truth (the truth that lies deep inside of you).

The Greeks understood that healing begins with the truth, and having a sacred place where you could stand and find the truth that lay deep inside of you.

They would gather in the circle.

They understood that the archetype of the circle provided a container – a container that would give safety, and where you could speak your truth surrounded by those who were willing to listen, by those who were willing to hold what you had to say as sacred.

This is where healing would begin – by being able to find your voice. Being able to be heard. Being able to speak your truth, and tell your story, so that all aspects of your being could come together in the wholeness that was symbolized by the circle.

Allow yourself to imagine. Imagine finding your voice and speaking your truth. So that you can become healed and whole.

So thank you for joining us at the Light of the Moon Cafe at the Epidaurus Theatre, in Epidaurus, Greece. We hope to see you next time!

I would love to hear […]

Your Unconscious Mind

Your Unconscious Mind
Hello, Dr. Anita Johnston here.

I am here in Greece at the Sunken City. Somewhere beneath that water is a city, and I am going to take you with me as I go looking for it. Somewhere out there is a 5,000 year old city that was sunk by an earthquake many years ago.

I am going down in search of the Sunken City.

Amazing! The Sunken City is right here — close to shore. Strangely enough, the search I am on is not unlike the search for recovery from eating difficulties. To get lasting recovery, you have to be willing to dive deep down into the depths of your psyche, not sure what you will find, but somehow knowing there is something important there for you to see, that will bring you a greater depth and breadth of understanding. Not just about why you struggle with food and eating, but also who you are, and where you come from, and most importantly, about where you are headed in this journey through life.

Look at this ancient city that was submerged 5,000 years ago! You can see the remnants of rooms and walls that were inhabited long, long ago. This is not unlike our psyches, and our symptomology. They have a history. We have ancestors whose DNA we carry. We have layers and layers of memories of past experiences from our childhoods that have been revised over time, just as this city now has walls that have become floors that sea urchins attach to and fish swim around. This happens in our psyche whether we know it or not.

We all have an unconscious mind. An unconscious mind is that aspect of ourselves that we are not […]

Stay Connected to Your True Values

Stay Connected to Your True Values
Hello, Dr. Anita Johnston here.

I am at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece where the columns of statues of six women remind me of the story of Lysistrata. For thousands of years there have been many performances at this theater of Dionysis. And Lysistrata would have been one of them.

Imagine you are an Athenian woman in 403BC and you are about to watch a comedy here by the famous playwright, Aristophenes called Lysistrata.

The story is about a woman named Lysistrada who took it upon herself to come up with a creative plan to end the 25 year long war which had pitted the Pelopennesian cities of Greece against each other.

Her plan? To convince the women of Spartus, of Thebes, and the other cities to withhold sex from the men until they ended their fighting. While resistant initially, they eventually agreed – and while they were offering a bowl of wine to the Goddess of Reconcilliation they heard the sounds of the older women who had joined them in this plan who were capturing the Acropolis.

The Acropolis was the fortress that housed the financial treasury of Athens. With this take-over – there would be no funds available to continue the war. There is a scene where the decrepit, misogynistic old men start fires and try to smoke out the old women – but they just laugh and pour water on their fires – eventually defeating them and dousing them with icy water.

Through-out the play there were 2 choruses – the voices of the older men and the older women that sang back and forth, and there were funny sexual antics on stage between the men and the women – where the […]

A tale of healing

A Tale of Healing
Hello, Dr. Anita Johnston here.

I am at the theater of Epidaurus, the epic healing center of the world.

Imagine it is the year 400 BC, and you are an Athenian woman in Ancient Greece seeking healing. In your lifetime, you have witnessed some amazing things – the ascension of the Athenian empire, the establishment of democracy, the medicine of Hippocrates, the production of Oedipus Rex, the call to know thyself by a philosopher named Socrates, the building of the Parthenon.

But, you have also seen this golden age collapse in the horrors of war that pitted Peloponnesian cities against each other. You have experienced the agony of a plague that has killed too many family and friends. You have grown weary of your values being disregarded, your truth being silenced, dismissed, or ridiculed. You long for a place where your battered body, frantic mind, and tortured soul can heal from the onslaught of the chaos all around you and the turmoil inside of you – a place where you can find peace and restore your health.

You decide to go on a journey towards recovery. You make the pilgrimage to the Aesclepian, the great healing center of Epidaurus, to turn a corner on your reality; to experience your life in a new way. It’s amazing that we can still retrace the steps of the Ancient Greeks who were seeking treatment, and see what they believed was essential for healing.

We can imagine what it must have been like to ache for healing and wholeness, and make a pilgrimage like that, because we know what it feels like to long for recovery, to turn a corner on our reality, to experience life in a new way. […]

Use your curiosity; not your judgment

Use your curiosity; not your judgment
Hello, Dr. Anita Johnston here.

I am in Epidaurus, Greece, which seems like the perfect place to tell you this story.

Once upon a time, high up on Olympus, the gods and goddesses gathered to create a new creature for earth – a woman. “A woman! A woman!” they said excitedly. Let’s name her Pandora, which means “the gifted” and “the all-giving”.

Athena, the goddess of wisdom, breathed the life force into her, and gave her a soul, which contained the wisdom of the ages for guidance and creativity.

Aphrodite, the goddess of love, stepped forward and said, “I will give her the gift of beauty and vibrant sensuality. She will have uninhibited sensual desire, and a captivating beauty, which will allow hearts to open in her presence.”

Apollo said, “I’ll give her music. She will be able to give and receive joy through song and dance as she celebrates life itself.”

Hermes, the messenger god, said, “I’ll give her the ability to communicate. She will be able to listen without judgment, and use her words eloquently, and speak her truth clearly, kindly and honestly.”

Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, began to fashion a body for her using water and earth; creating a three-dimensional container that was strong enough to serve as a vessel for her consciousness. He said, “I will give her the three dimensions of height and weight and depth.” He began to forge a dazzlingly beautiful body with gorgeous curves and rounded features, the likes of which had never been seen before – a woman’s body.

When Hephaestus had completed her body, Hera (interestingly enough, the goddess of marriage), gave her a most interesting gift, which she placed in the very core of […]

From Girlhood to Womanhood Rituals

From Girlhood to Womanhood Rituals
Hello, Dr. Anita Johnston here. I’m in Athens, Greece. Right now, I am at the sanctuary for Artemis. Artemis was the goddess of young children, and animals, and especially the maidens. In this particular sanctuary, the story goes, Athena had Agamemnon’s children steal an effigy of Artemis so that they could come here and build this sanctuary for Artemis.

Here, young girls, maidens who were ready to become women, would come here to worship Artemis and have special rituals. They had their coming of age rituals right here at this spot. We are talking about 700 BC, so a long, long time ago. What’s really special about that, is it tells us that there was a time, an ancient time, when the transition from girlhood to womanhood was sacred. There was a goddess that honored that, and there were rituals for the girls to participate in as they moved from the body of a girl into the body of a woman.

Now imagine what this would mean for us nowadays, because we don’t have rituals like that in our modern culture.

We don’t have ways of honoring, probably the most profound transition that is ever made – from girlhood to womanhood.

We are just really left to our own devices.

Nowadays, the only ritual that we have is dieting, because there is no other way of recognizing and honoring this most profound and sacred transition.

Many of us are left with body shame, because there are two kinds of secrets: those that are sacred and those that are shameful. In the absence of the sacred, we are left with shame. So many of us that grew up in this modern culture, have no way to recognize […]

Imagine telling your story – your healing story

Imagine telling your story – your healing story
Dr. Anita Johnston here, and I am in Delphi, Greece.

I am just getting ready to climb the Sacred Way, where the ancient Greeks came for eons to see the Oracle.

In those days, The Oracle was the equivalent of what we might consider a therapist. They would come to visit the Oracle, especially those for whom it was really the last ditch effort in their search for healing. Of course now, the Oracles, didn’t give the answers to the problems for healing, just as therapists don’t. They gave a riddle. The riddle then would be interpreted in terms of how you understood it. You would give it your own meaning, so that the answer, the correct answer, was inside of you. Very much like how we view recovery today.

Here the Greeks used theater for healing, because they understood that there is healing in the stories themselves. Just like today, we might use fairy tales or folk tales to take the images into the deepest part of our being. The Greeks understood this, so they told their stories, and they told their Greek myths, in service of healing the psyche.

Now check out this theater. You can see where people would come and sit. They would watch the plays; they would watch the performances; and then, find some way to make some meaning of all of that in their own lives. Just as we have to watch the play that is our lives, and see if we can come up with what the true meaning is for us.

Can you imagine the stories here? The tragedies? The comedies? All of us, it is we who get to decide what […]

Recovery Story

Recovery Story
I’m in Athens, Greece, and I have a story to tell you. I have a healing story to tell you. I am meeting with a young woman. Her name is Lise. She contacted me about a week or so ago. She lives in Germany and she said that she saw on my website that I would be doing a workshop in Greece. She was wondering if she could meet me because she wanted to tell me her story.

Her story is that, as a girl, she developed an eating disorder. My book had been published in German, and so she came across my book. It gave her so much hope for help, that she went to her parents and asked for them to help her get some treatment for her eating disorder. They weren’t willing to do that – no matter what she said, no matter what she tried. Now, I’m not recommending this, but she ran away from home. She took with her her dog-eared, underlined copy of Eating in the Light of the Moon, which was the German version of it. She did find help. Not that the book alone helped her recover, but she found help for her recovery. She is totally recovered now, and is a filmmaker. She has made some amazing films. I know, because she has sent them to me, and they’re really brilliant.

Now she wants to do a film about recovery. She had in mind the possibility that she would find her way to Hawaii, where she would meet up with me, and then she saw that I was going to be in Greece. She contacted me. She said, “Please, can we just meet? I know that […]

NEDA walk in Denver

NEDA walk in Denver
Hello, Dr. Anita Johnson here. I am at the NEDA walk in Denver, which is an amazing event for people who are struggling, and family and friends, to come and celebrate, share recovery stories, encourage each other, and support each other. Thank you for joining me here at the NEDA walk in Denver.

I first want to express what an honor it is to be here. NEDA is an amazing organization. You are amazing people because by showing up here today, you are NEDA. I’m honored because I get to do what I like to do more than anything else in the world, which is talk to people and tell them, “People get better. Recovery is possible.” I’ve been in the field a long time. I know of thousands, truly thousands who have done so. I get emails and letters from around the world. I meet former clients of mine all the time. It is absolutely totally possible to recover.

What I want to share with you is just a little metaphor I shared a long time ago with a client of mine who was EDA What was involved and how could she possibly do it? It calls for a little bit of an imagination, because recovery begins with imagining recovery in the first place.

I want you to imagine. Imagine that you are on the banks of a raging river. It is pouring down rain. You slip and fall in. And you’re drowning. You’re getting pulled down through the rapids. Along comes a big log and you grab on. The log saves your life. It keeps your head above water when surely you would have drowned. Eventually, it carries you to a place […]

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