Have you ever heard of meditating to achieve weight loss? To many, the entire concept just doesn’t sound quite right. But when you think about it, this outlook makes at least a little bit of sense – after all, when you meditate you are mostly just sitting still, ideally cross-legged with eyes closed. Although this certainly doesn’t sound like the number one way to lose those unwanted pounds, it will help decrease your blood pressure and make your stress levels reduce (which has health benefits in itself).
When you meditate, the goal should be to clear your head of all of the chatter and chaos. There are literally thousands of unnecessary thoughts and stimulations that barrage your brain all day long. While much of this chatter may be harmless, some of it can also be incredibly destructive. It can cause stress, anxiety, over-obsessive thinking, difficulty remembering things… and the list goes on.
The key is remembering that our thoughts are inanimate, and thus they do NOT control us. Through using meditation and deep breathing exercises, it is possible to quiet the unending stream of information, turn down the volume on these frantic thoughts, and eventually you can even learn to release the thoughts. Just like anything worth learning in life, it is easy to enjoy all of the benefits with a little bit of practice.
There are so many negative behaviours that many, MANY people engage in on a daily basis – over-working, drinking, drugs, engaging in dangerous behaviour, binge eating… and the list goes on. These things don’t make us bad people necessary; often they are just our body’s coping mechanisms to deal with the stress of everyday life. These activities somehow quiet the never-ending stream of thoughts and allow our thinking to slow down.
But GREAT NEWS!! Did you know that meditation can provide many of the same benefits?
You will find with continuous practice that your perception may become only that of the present moment… and this feels really good!! Meditation can stimulate the same feelings as some of these harmful activities, but without all of the negative side effects. It also helps us learn how to calm destructive thoughts on our own, without needing to turn over to the dark side in order to cope. Try making it a habit to pause and close your eyes when feelings of anxiety or stress threaten to overcome you. This can also replace our emotional eating habits, thus helping with weight loss.
Another benefit of meditation is that it creates a mind-body connection that is so essential in sustaining fat loss over the long haul. This solidifies our efforts and helps keep us motivated. This mind-body connection can be the difference between knowing that you want and/or need to lose weight in a shallow level, and absolutely feeling that you would rather be healthy and feel better on a very deep level.
One last benefit to meditation is that you may notice a massive reduction in the amount of stress that you carry day to day. Chronic stress always contributes negatively to our health and causes weight gain by releasing too much cortisol into our systems (cortisol is a hormone that causes us to hang on fiercely to those extra pounds).
How do I meditate for weight loss?
The best definition of what meditation actually is was one that I found in the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. His methods and guidelines are immensely helpful and easy to follow, so they can be learned in no time at all.
He says that meditation is simply becoming aware of the present moment (the Here and Now). The key to doing this effectively and easily is to simply focus on really feeling all physical sensations that are present at any given moment. Pay attention to everything, from the chair you may be sitting on to the feeling of your clothing against your skin. The only thing you have to do is just observe how they feel, you don’t need to pass judgement or make comments. Awareness is your main objective and key goal here.
Next, just listen. Focus on really hearing all of the sounds around you. Again, no judgement… just be. If thoughts arise (a distraction happens or your thoughts start to drift), simply recognize it, observe it and then release it. Just watch as the thoughts drift past your awareness.
Now try to move your awareness internally into your body. Feel the energy that buzzes inside of you… the air moving in and out of your lungs, your heart beating inside of your chest. Feel the energy in your entire body, all the way from your toes to the tips of your fingers. Try to enhance or increase the amount of energy that you can feel… with time, this is a skill that can be learned.
You don’t need to be in a quiet, dark and serene place in order to meditate. You can do it anywhere and anytime. Meditation done while you eat is commonly called “mindful eating”. It is accomplished by observing the texture, taste and sensations as you take every bite. This ultimately helps to slow you down and start taking pleasure in what you eat. Try to observe how this action of taking in food makes your body feel. This method can be extremely helpful in weight loss efforts because it makes you pay more attention to the quality of the food as you eat it, the feelings of actually eating the food and also hints at how lower quality foods tend to make us feel bloated or gross. Finally, it helps us to become aware of our body’s hunger cues, meaning that we are more likely stop eating when we are full.
Does meditation take any other forms?
Did you know that exercise can also be a form of meditation? When you move your body with intensity, your mind is forced into the Here and Now. You must become aware of how your body feels to prevent injury, so this increase in focus can be used to meditate at the same time.
Yoga is another way to meditate as you focus inwardly and stretch to reach poses. Focus on feeling the stretch in your muscles and just feel the postures. You can use a guided meditation DVD, CD or YouTube video if this makes it easier. Or, you can simply close your eyes and repeat positive affirmations to yourself. You can also try practicing visualizations, which according to many theories is a powerful tool in shaping your future. It’s ultimately your meditation, so as long as you find it beneficial then that is all that matters.
Get your Zen on
The art of Zen is actually a rather complex business, but it is absolutely worth learning. Even just pausing throughout your day every so often and taking the time to smell the roses can be extremely therapeutic. Try it for yourself, and reap the benefits today!