When you think of weight loss, the first thing that probably comes to mind is (1) deprivation of food and events you enjoy and (2) doing things that you don’t (rigorous exercise). What if you didn’t have to do either of those to lose weight? What if all you needed to do was to shift the hormone levels in your brain through mind-body techniques like meditation, in order to facilitate weight loss? And what if through meditation, you started to actually not feel deprived, and actually enjoy exercise? Wouldn’t that be a miracle?
Well, there is some great news!!! Research is showing all of the above to be true…
Mind-Body Stress Reduction (MBSR), which includes meditation and other mind-body techniques are valuable for controlling emotional eating, reducing hormone-wrecking stress, getting up after falling “off” a program, and cultivating an attitude of compassion towards your body and self-image.
One study done by UC San Francisco showed that changing nothing about diet or exercise, and just adding meditation facilitated a statistically significant drop in weight for the meditation group. In addition, the stress hormone cortisol, a key hormone associated with weight gain, was reduced in the meditation group.
Not only that, another recent study by Harvard-affiliated group found that meditation, yoga, and prayer can reduce the need for health care services by a full 43 percent!
Meditation offers you the chance of being attentive and awake to the world, as opposed to closed off, tense and constantly anxious about the future, or feeling guilty from the past… The benefits are enormous!
Here are 5 tips to kick start your own meditation practice today:
Tip 1: Relax
Sit comfortably and just relax with a relatively straight spine. Just feel comfortable where you are. This actually means that you really just need to find a quiet spot and put all distractions away. Take some deep breaths and just focus on your breath. The cool thing is you can also relax “spontaneously” at any moment. For instance, you could choose to stop yourself before entering your home and just pause…. Take in everything around you… close your eyes for one full breath…. and just feel what you feel…. and then go in… Yes, meditation can be done STANDING, on the SPOT, and for just 10 seconds… In fact, I’d argue doing it this way as you integrate it into your life is actually more important than sitting and formally meditating…
Tip 2: Focus
Choose something to focus on… Your breath, a candle, a mantra, a spot on a tree, an entire forest of trees… It doesn’t really matter. Just find something to fix your mind on… Your thoughts will flow AROUND your fixation point. Your job is to simply observe that flow without attachment 🙂 You can actually be creative with your fixation point. Not only can you try focusing visually, you can also try focusing auditorily. Try and hear just one noise, or try and hear all noises at once. These are ancient practices that have been working for 1000s for years and continue to still be relevant today.
Tip 3: Connect
Before you start your meditation, really feel like you are connecting with your Source, or God, or Universe, whatever you want to call it. Just choose some energy that lifts you… Feel the spirit you are, above the body you are… It’s important to feel you are more than just the body, even for a moment…
Tip 4: Breathe
Your breath is your ally, your energy source, and the one thing that you always have available to you as a focal point. The great thing about the breath is you can learn so much about yourself, your stress level, your habits, tendencies, anxieties, simply by watching your breath throughout the day… It really is a tremendous thermometer. As you meditate, just learn to breathe easily and naturally. Control nothing… Just be easy about it. If you want to go further with this, learn to belly breathe. Lie on the floor on your back in a supine position. Put one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly. While you breathe, simply see if you can make the hand on your belly move up and down, while allowing your hand on your chest to stay static.
Tip 5: Let Go
You will always have something to “do”… Your list will never be checked off. It’s important that you see your spiritual growth as a high priority, and you connect that with your maturing emotional state, and also an important factor in your physical well-being… Letting go just means that for right now your intention is to put aside all concerns of the external world, and you are diving inward. Just for a few minutes… Watch how your mind rebels! Sometimes it can feel like you are a hostage to your own mind…. The truth is, you can watch your minds thoughts without attachment, and thus gain freedom from what you observe.
Tip 6: Get the ‘CALM’ app for your Smartphone!
Lastly, there are some really great apps on the market to help you meditate and relax. I recommend the app, “CALM” which was recently chosen by Apple as best app of 2017! The app allows you to work on improving sleep, increasing happiness, reducing stress, developing gratitude, building self-esteem, learning to meditate, reducing anxiety, and improving focus as options.
The trend of unplugging and unwinding is going to continue and for good reason. So many of our weight loss issues, body-image issues are related to stress and anxiety. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older. Sadly, only 37% are doing something about it.
The main thing to know is that through proper, regular meditation, you can achieve real, lasting results that will impact almost every area of your life in a positive way. Go for it!