Recently, Deepak Chopra appeared as a guest on the Dr. Oz Show where he demonstrated a brief meditation practice that he says promotes weight loss. During the meditation he asked viewers to put their attention on their heart and think about anything they are grateful for. Chopra asked them to ask a series of questions like, “Who am I?,” “What’s my purpose,” and “What makes me happy?” Lastly, he instructed participants to become aware of any sensations in their body. He ended the meditation with having viewers bringing their attention back to their heart. Chopra explained that each of these activities stimulated different parts of the brain that promoted self-regulation of their behaviors which in turn would reduce emotional and binge eating and encourage weight loss.
Meditation has been used for centuries to relieve stress, control negative thinking, curb depression, grow spiritually, and create a deeper relationship with God. Meditation can be a useful tool for weight loss in that the more we gain control over our thoughts and emotions, we are less likely to use food as an emotional crutch. Many people overeat or eat unhealthy foods to fill voids within their lives. When people experience unhappy feelings, stress, or even depression, it’s not uncommon for them to try to enhance their moods with a good dose of cake, candy, or ice cream. Unfortunately, afterwards, not only have they added unneeded calories to their diet, they often beat ourselves up with guilt as well. This emotional-food response is often so automatic that many people do it without even thinking.
Daily meditation helps us to break the emotional-food cycle by making us more aware of our mental, emotional, and physical processes. Instead of reacting automatically to a thought to eat a gallon of ice-cream, through the practice of meditation, we gain a greater awareness of our thoughts and emotions and actually give ourselves the ability to make more conscious choices. During the mental dialogue that often lead to unhealthy eating, through meditation, we learn to interrupt the process which then gives us the ability to question our response, “Is this really going to make me feel better?”
Stress is another emotion that often leads to unhealthy eating. After a long day at work or in the midst of a stressful event, a big bowl of chow mein might be just what you need to restore your peace and calm, but again, you will pay a hefty price. In these instances, meditation, again, can have a positive affect on weight loss. Studies prove that meditation is high on the list of practices that help to reduce or eliminate stress. Just a few minutes of meditation each day can bring more peace and serenity to just about every area of your life. Instead of reaching for the Nachos, spend 10-20 minutes in meditation, focusing on your breathing as you let every thought just float from your mind like the clouds passing by in the sky. You can also meditate on a scripture or inspirational passage like, “peace be still,” or “all is well,” or imagine yourself in a beautiful or serene environment like the beach or walking through a forest.
In addition to meditation, use some visualization exercises to help you curb emotional or over-eating. If you have a problem eating unhealthy foods especially when you are not hungry, practice avoiding or turning down these foods in your mind first. It’s like doing a practice run before the real temptation begins. To do this, close your eyes and in your mind visualize the situation that you may encounter. See yourself looking at the tempting food and then deciding that you won’t indulge, either because you aren’t hungry or it’s not something you want to put in your body. In your mind see yourself turning it down and feeling great about it. You might say something like, “Wow, that looks so good, but I’ve already eaten today or I’m avoiding sweets for awhile.” See yourself walking away from the table and engaging in another activity like talking with friends. Then imagine just how great you are going to feel mentally and physically. Take a deep breathe and open your eyes. Take this great and empowering feeling with you to your event.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, reduce stress, subdue negative thinking, grow spiritually, or connect more intimately with God, you will find that meditation is a wonderful practice that can benefit your life many ways.