Meditating for weight loss? That doesn’t sound right. After all, aren’t you just sitting still, cross-legged and eyes closed? Not the biggest calorie burn.
While this may be true, like many things we do for ourselves, the connection is indirect and not always obvious. But it is there and can be a powerful tool for weight loss.
When you meditate, your goal is to clear your head of “monkey chatter”. These are the incessant thoughts that run through your head all hours of the day.
Some of this may be harmless, but they can also be quite destructive. They can bring about stress and anxiety by having us fearing those things that are far beyond our control, obsessing over our looks and perception to others, and remembering things that are over and done and re-playing them like a movie in our heads.
However, our thoughts do not have to control us. Through meditation, we can quiet these thoughts by learning to release them. Like any other skill, with a little practice it’s easy to reap the benefits.
Preventing Destructive Behaviors
Why do most people drink alcohol, do drugs, engage in dangerous behavior, or even binge eat? Frequently, it’s our own defense mechanism against the chatter. These activities temporarily quiet the incessant thoughts and cause our thinking to slow down, and suddenly our only perception is the present moment, and that feels really good.
Meditation can help us to have that same feeling but without the binge eating, alcohol, drugs, etc. It helps us to learn to quiet the destructive thoughts on our own, so that instead of reaching for our junk food to deal with the anxiety or feelings coming up, we can release them instead.
Making it a habit to close your eyes and meditate when you are stressed, anxious, or depressed can begin to replace our emotional eating habits, thus helping us with weight loss.
Meditation also helps us to create a mind-body connection that is essential in sustaining fat loss over the long term by solidifying our efforts. The mind-body connection is the difference between knowing you need to lose weight on a very shallow level, and really feeling that you want to be healthy and feel better on a very deep level.
Another benefit to meditation is the reduction of stress. Chronic stress can contribute to weight gain by releasing too much cortisol into our systems.
How to Meditate for Weight Loss
Meditation can mean many things to different people, but here is my take on it as I learned from Eckhart Tolle in the Power of Now. I’m certainly no expert and just a beginner myself, but these methods have helped me tremendously in a very short amount of time.
Meditation is simply becoming aware of the present moment, the here and now. This is done by really feeling all physical sensations, from the surface you are sitting on to the texture of your clothes. Just observe how they feel, with no judgement or commentary. Awareness is the only goal.
Next, listen and really hear all sounds around you. Again, listen with no judgement…if judgements or thoughts come up (a sound annoys you or you start to think about your grocery list), observe it and release it, as though you’re watching them pass by.
Move your awareness internally to your body. Feel the energy buzzing inside of you, the life energy that allows you to take each breath, the lungs taking in air, the belly that moves in and out as you breathe, the heart that beats in your chest. Feel this energy in your body from your toes all the way through your fingertips.
Where to Meditate
This doesn’t have to be done in a quiet dark place. I sometimes practice this type of meditation as I’m falling asleep at night, driving my car, eating my food.
Meditation while eating is commonly called “mindful eating”. You’re observing the texture, taste, and sensations as you take each bite. This helps you to slow down and take pleasure in your food, observing how it makes your body feel.
This is extremely helpful in weight loss efforts as you observe how the high quality foods make you feel good, or how a low quality food makes you feel awful. It also helps us become aware of hunger cues, so we’re more likely to stop eating when we are full.
Exercise can also be a form of meditation. When you are moving your body with intensity, your mind is forced into the here and now. You must be aware of how your body feels so that you don’t push too hard or hurt yourself. Yoga is yet another way to meditate as you focus inwardly to pose your body and feel the positions and stretches.
If needed, you can use a guided meditation CD, DVD, or YouTube video. You can also choose to just close your eyes and repeat positive affirmations to yourself during this time, or to practice visualization. It’s your meditation, and as long as it’s beneficial to you, that’s all that matters.
Do you practice meditation? How has it helped you?