Aside from the simple love of delicious food, overeating often has deeper psychological reasons behind it. There’s a strong connection between emotional state and eating, so many people subconsciously turn to serotonin-raising foods (e.g. chocolate and sweets) when feeling sad, and end up with excessive pounds, or even serious health issues. Stress can also cause us to seek comfort in food, which may result in uncontrollable binge eating. All of this leads to an unmistakable conclusion: when we are mindless in our daily lives, our eating habits can become unhealthy. A fast paced world forces us to live day by day on autopilot, always with tons of worries on our minds, never being fully present. But could meditation help you achieve balance in your life, and improve your physique and fitness health too? A recent study suggests it can. Here’s what you need to know.
Handle your stress wisely
If you practice meditation for as little as 10 minutes a day, you will improve your cardiovascular health, and feel more ready to seize the day by decreasing anxiety and learning to relax. This will help your body and mind synchronize, which will make you feel mentally balanced and more prepared for challenges. Meditation is one of the best ways to reduce stress – instantly and in the long run. Meditation triggers changes in the amygdala. Mindful breathing lowers your cortisol levels, making you feel calm. In this state of mind, you won’t feel the need to obsessively eat and you’ll learn how to listen to what your body needs.
Mind your environment
Marsha Hudnall, an expert in the field of compulsive eating, pointed out that overeating has a lot to do with our environment. Formed habits are simply learned behaviors and actions we got used to performing, without putting much thought to it. If you make some changes in your environment, you’re more likely to get a healthier insight and a better focus on your behavior.
Create an simple meditation room in your house or apartment, which will be your own sanctuary where you take time to disconnect and take care of yourself. There is no correct formula for designing your meditation room, but it has to be a place of serenity filled with elements you love. If you like, you can draw inspiration from Eastern cultures: arrange scented candles for aromatherapy, consider decorating with prayer flags, make sure the interior is uncluttered and clean, bring some greenery inside, and use subtle lighting. Make sure there is enough fresh air circulating and the temperature is optimal, so that you enjoy your meditation sessions.
Change your brain (literally)
A breakthrough Harvard study showed meditation can increase the amount of gray matter in the insular cortex (responsible for perception, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, etc.), frontal cortex (working memory and decision making), as well as in the sensory regions (i.e. the auditory and sensory cortex). Studies suggest that you’ll need to commit to at least an eight-week program to notice significant results. Just like you exercise your body, meditation is a form of mental exercise. You need to commit in order to feel the difference.
By developing your brain through meditation, you will be able to focus better on your workouts, and increase your motivation to push harder than ever. This too can help you lose weight and stay healthy.
Consider other related activities
With a holistic approach and with literally altering your brain, meditation can support you on your weight loss journey. You can easily track your weight loss progress with a body tracker app. Eastern philosophers were really on to something: as opposed to the legacy and popular lifestyle of the Western civilization – where it is all about focusing on the physical appearance, the East underlines the importance of body and mind unity. Practicing meditation, yoga, or similar activities such as tai chi and qigong can be incredibly beneficial for maintaining your weight and overall health. All of the mentioned focus on the flow of life energy and coordinating different body positions.
Embrace meditation and you’ll see just how drastically it can change your life, weight-loss and beyond.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Meditation Magazine.