It’s a jolly puzzle. Wouldn’t it be great if we could lose weight and keep it off? But why is it so hard, especially as we get older? There are so many weight loss programs available, but most of them fail to sustain weight loss.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence to suggest that regular meditation may be an effective way to lose weight and keep it off. One study published in the journal Obesity found that people who meditated lost an average of five pounds over the course of eight weeks, while those who didn’t meditate gained an average of two pounds.
So how does meditation help with weight loss?
The answer isn’t entirely clear, but it seems to have something to do with the way meditation affects the brain. Studies have shown that people who meditate have less activity in the areas of the brain associated with stress and anxiety, and they also have more activity in the areas associated with self-control and positive emotions.
When we feel stressed or anxious, we tend to seek out pleasurable things for relief — including food. Eating is one of our brain’s favorite ways of making us feel calm and happy… which can help with weight loss in the short term but leads to weight gain if it becomes a long-term coping mechanism. Meditation may be useful because it provides a long-term change in perspective instead of just immediate pleasure.
When you meditate, your body relaxes and your mind becomes clear. This can help you make better decisions about your food choices and how much you eat.
Meditation also helps you focus on your goals and stay motivated. When you’re focused and motivated, it’s easier to stick to a healthy eating plan and lose weight.
How to start meditating
Before you can learn to meditate, you must decide that it is something that you really want. Meditation isn’t the easiest practice in the world to master, but if you are willing to put forth the effort and be patient it will bring many rewards both physically and mentally. Many people have found that just fifteen minutes of meditation each day brings them sound sleep, increased focus, clearer thinking, less frustration, and stress relief even after just one week of trying it.
There are many ways to meditate. Here is one way to get started:
1. Get yourself a place to do it. Somewhere quiet, where you can sit or lie down in peace and know that you won’t be disturbed for the duration of your meditation session.
2. Use an alarm clock (or timer) – One way of setting the alarm is to designate a certain number of chimes for your meditation session, whether it’s five or fifteen minutes. When you are ready to end the session, turn the alarm off, sit quietly for a few more moments and then get up slowly when it feels right.
3. Sit down with your legs crossed if possible – If you cannot cross both legs comfortably, then sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, palms resting on your thighs or in your lap. If you feel more comfortable sitting upright in a chair instead of ?cross-legged? on the floor then that’s okay too. You can meditate this way and still receive many of the benefits associated with mindfulness practice.
4. Take a few deep breaths – Inhale deeply through your nose and hold it for a moment before exhaling slowly through your mouth to complete one breath cycle. Repeat this two more times and close your eyes when you’ve finished.
5. Empty your mind completely – Don’t think about anything at all! If thoughts come to mind, ignore them for now and banish them from your head. Don’t fight them, but don’t encourage them either.
6. Give yourself a mantra – Repeat this word or phrase over and over in your mind without becoming distracted by other thoughts that may try to interfere with the process. The mantra should be something very calming and restful like ?peace, ?calm, ?comfort, ?tranquility,? or ?harmony? (or any other word that immediately relaxes you once it is presented to your mind). If you happen to become distracted then quickly return back to the beginning of the session and repeat each stage until peace reigns once again…
7. Perform one last breath cycle before opening your eyes – Inhale fully through the nose then exhale slowly through the nostrils while emptying your lungs completely by inhaling again. Repeat this cycle two more times before allowing yourself to open up your eyes at last and gradually get up from where you’re sitting whenever you feel ready to do so.
Loving-Kindness Meditation and weight loss
There are several different approaches to meditation, so you may want to try several types before settling on your favorite. One approach that’s particularly effective at helping people lose weight is Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM), also known as Metta Bhavana, or “cultivating loving-kindness.”
In Buddhist psychology, loving-kindness is one of the four “divine abodes”, or ” Brahmaviharas”, along with compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. The divine abodes are a list of four qualities that Buddhists aspire to develop as a foundation for their practice. These qualities are not just to be cultivated towards people who have helped you, or those that it is easy to feel compassion and kindness towards but also towards those who may seem difficult to love, even enemies. There are different ways that the divine abodes can be developed. One is through meditation and reflection, such as in loving-kindness practice, another is through behavior such as consciously choosing to do acts of kindness towards people. Buddhist teachers use both methods to develop these qualities within their students’ hearts and personalities.
Loving-kindness meditation changes our brains by helping us feel more connected to others and what’s going on around us. These changes in the brain are achieved through neuroplasticity, which is the ability for our brains to change based on what we do regularly. There are studies that show how loving-kindness meditation can decrease stress levels associated with dieting, reduce depression and anxiety related to overeating, improve self-esteem for achieving weight loss goals, increase positive body image perception of oneself even if one doesn’t achieve their desired weight loss results AND prevent future weight gain by increasing our self-control.
Loving-kindness meditation can also help you lose weight by making you feel happy and better connected to those around you, which is a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising. You will also have an increased sense of community as loving-kindness meditation helps improve empathy for others.
If you’re looking for a way to lose weight that’s gentle, sustainable, and affordable, meditation may be the answer. Give it a try and see how it works for you. You may be surprised by the results!