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Meditation for Weight Loss? Yes!
When you think of meditation, you may think about someone sitting near a beach with their eyes closed and legs crossed, the sun rising on the horizon, and an inexplicable column of rounded stones stacked nearby. You probably don’t think of someone sitting quietly in their living room wearing sweatpants with their eyes wide open. Toss aside your preconceived notions about meditation. Meditation is for everyone and anyone. And it can be for weight loss as well. Ohhhmmmmm.
The Benefits of Meditation
People meditate for a variety of reasons. Some meditate for spiritual reasons. Others meditate to relieve stress or anxiety or to sleep better. According to studies, there are measurable results shown among those who meditate.
The potential benefits are:
- Prevent heart disease. Meditation can help lower blood pressure and boost heart health.
- Manage pain. Studies show that meditation can lower one’s sensitivity to pain for those with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and low back pain.
- Improve memory. This is helpful for those with medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, and also for those who simply want a better memory.
- Relieve symptoms of depression. In this case meditation serves as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and can be used in conjunction with other conventional care for depression.
- Lose weight. Yes, it’s true. According to the American Meditation Society, “during meditation the attention flows inward instead of engaging in the outside world of activity.” What this means for weight loss is that your positive qualities are awakened, reducing your need for emotional eating or binge eating.
How to Meditate
Another really great aspect of meditation is that it costs absolutely nothing. No special equipment or clothing is needed. What is needed is 15-30 minutes per day and a quiet space. There are a number of ways to begin a meditation practice.
Of course, some use meditation for spiritual purposes as a form of prayer. If you’re interested in meditation, there are many websites devoted to the topic.
- Focused breathing. Begin sitting with your legs directly under your buttocks and your knees in front of you (Seiza), or sitting cross-legged as you did when you were a child (Anza). Keeping your back straight, close your eyes and inhale deeply, hold for six counts and then exhale. Do this a few more times and then breathe normally, while focusing your thoughts on your breath. When (not if) your mind wanders to problems or people or anything at all, return your thoughts to your breath. Some find it helpful to think “in – out” or “inhale – exhale.” That’s all there is to it. Your mind de-clutters as you breathe.
- Basic meditation. This is similar to the breathing method, but in this case you try to think of nothing. In your mind you watch or observe yourself as you meditate. When a thought arises, you think “let it go” and then go back to trying to think of nothing. You are noticing the narrative voice in your head (your inner critic) but you’re not engaging it.
- Focused meditation. This is a variation on the breathing technique. You sit and focus intently on one thing. Some focus on an object, like a statue or a candle flame, while others focus on something audible, like a metronome ticking. Still others focus on a simple concept such as “unconditional compassion” or “forgiveness.” The idea is to stay in the present moment and prevent the circulating stream of thoughts while you turn instead to one simple idea.
- Action-oriented meditation. This is when you engage in a repetitive activity which allows you to “get in the zone” and quiet your mind. Some use yoga for this purpose. Weeding a garden, creating artwork, or walking can all be methods of action-oriented meditation.
- Mindfulness meditation. This is when you sit and, consciously and purposefully, remain in the “now” moment. Focus on how your body feels, the temperature around you, and what your physical body is doing at that exact moment. Every time your mind goes to the past, or to the future, bring it back to the now. This is harder than it looks.
Keep in mind that meditation can clear your mind so you are less inclined to overeat, more inclined to eat healthy foods and get some exercise. Those elements combined are a sure way to lose weight.
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