When you eat more than you need, your body gains and stores extra weight. Weight issues get blamed on lack of exercise, genetics, stress, and overeating. But your programming begins in the mind. It's your thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that are the most important factors causing poor eating habits. So let's look at meditation and weight loss as a proven way to make lasting change.
A recent study performed in UC San Francisco found that meditation can help you control your diet as well as lose weight. The researchers did a survey of a random group of 47 overweight women by dividing them into two groups.
In one group, the women received meditation training around the sensory experience of eating. While the other group was put on normal exercise and diet. Among the two, the one with mindful meditation maintained the weight, and the other group continued to gain weight.
The Relationship Between Meditation and Weight Loss
When you meditate, the aim is to digest your thoughts and clear your head of all the monkey mind chatter. Throughout the day you have thousands of endless thoughts and sensory impressions. These thoughts and sensory impressions create enormous pressure on your psyche.
On average you have 60,000 thoughts per day. Some of these thoughts you are aware of. Most of them, you're not. Here's how it works:
You have a Conscious Mind and a Subconscious Mind
Your conscious mind is the mind that helps you navigate through everyday life. It helps you decide what to eat for breakfast, what to wear, what to put on your to-do list, etc.
You also have a subconscious mind. The subconscious mind can be thought of as your garbage bin. As I mentioned above, you have thousands of thoughts each day, and you may be aware of some of them, but most get deposited into your subconscious mind.
As the thoughts and sensory impressions begin to accumulate, your subconscious begins to fill. When this happens it influences your conscious mind and nervous system. Your intelligence gets muddied. Your garbage bin needs emptying.
The key principle to weight loss and health is the subconscious mind must be cleaned on a regular basis.
One of the best ways to do this is through meditation. Otherwise, the contents of the subconscious muddies the flow of your intelligence. The result is, your ability to know what's good for your health, and what's not good for your health is compromised.
Meditation helps to calm your mind so you can release old mental and emotional patterns of behavior. Once this happens, you are free to make better choices and change the perceptions that lead to emotional eating.
Getting Ready to Meditate
Choose one time of the day and one place – It's best to meditate at the same time and place. The best time is in the early morning just after you've awakened and before breakfast. The best place to meditate is a quiet and comfortable room where you won't be bothered.
Wear clean, comfortable clothing – Tight clothing is distracting and can prevent you from relaxing deeply. Whenever possible, meditate in loose-fitted clothing made of natural fibers.
Create an atmosphere – Turn off your telephone. Create a space with fresh flowers, incense, or diffuse essential oils like sandalwood or jasmine. If you have the space to create a personal altar with favorite objects that honors your traditions, so much the better.
Sit with the eyes closed – A lot of our sensory input to the brain is visual, so closing your eyes helps to settle the mind and brain.
How To Meditate
The three essential components of meditation are relaxation, nonjudgment, and witnessing. Meditation is not a technique. The techniques just help to bring you to your authentic self. Meditation is where you arrive. The techniques are how we get there.
Short technique to get you started
When you're ready to begin, sit quietly with your hands on your lap or to your sides. Let your attention follow your breathing. Feel your breath entering your nostrils and flow down into your lungs. When you exhale, let your attention follow the air up and out of your lungs and softly through your nostrils.
Nothing is forced
The breath moves smoothly and gently, and your attention follows.
Continue to be aware of your breath, and now you can begin to add a mantra “so hum” to this procedure. Silently think the word “so” on the inhale, and “hum” on the exhale. The purpose of a mantra is it gives your mind something to do. You can use any word or phrase you like. Some people like “Love” or “Peace.”
Continue this exercise for 10 minutes and over time work up to 20 minutes. When your mind drifts or wanders, don't try to stop it or “empty” it, simply return to repeating the mantra.
When your time is up, spend a few minutes more just sitting with your eyes closed before resuming another activity.
The benefits are the greatest when you meditate daily
Aim for 20-30 minutes per day, but do whatever you can because even 12 minutes of meditation a day is helpful.
Meditation will Transform You
Learning to meditate can be a transformative experience in your life. Meditation is essential if you want to release old mental and emotional patterns of behavior responsible for losing weight.
As you begin to show up differently in your life, everything will shift, and you'll start to feel more naturally joyful.
The key to developing a successful meditation practice is finding the right fit for you. Personally, I experimented with several different types until I found one that felt comfortable and worked for me. Taking classes from a meditation master is one of the best ways to learn meditation.
For many of us, meditation does not come quickly. How about you? Do you already meditate? If so, please share with me what works for you below.