When people think about losing weight, counting calories and sweating through grueling workouts are usually top of the mind. But author and holistic health practitioner Deepak Chopra suggests that meditation can help with weight loss. In fact, Chopra described in a "Huffington Post" article how meditation can cause enough positive change in your brain in just eight weeks to rewire the body’s circuitry, helping you modify your eating habits and other behaviors. Chopra suggests tossing out the old idea that biology is destiny in favor of consciousness as destiny.
Most types of meditation involve sitting for prolonged periods. Mindfulness meditation, which Chopra recommends for weight loss, can be done sitting or while doing your daily activities. The key to mindfulness meditation is to pay attention. That means no multitasking. For example, to practice mindfulness meditation while eating, pay attention to your food rather than reading, talking or watching TV during a meal. Chopra’s method encourages you to taste and enjoy food but to closely watch how much you’re eating and why. Keep your awareness in your body rather than zoning out and then noticing you’re stuffed, again.
Awareness and Weight
People sometimes lose weight without even trying when they start to meditate, Chopra said in an interview on the Dr. Oz Show. This has to do with expanding your awareness of what’s going on in your body, he said. People eat for two reasons: physical and emotional hunger. Meditating can help to calm you enough that you’re less likely to get stressed out and use food as a coping mechanism.
Awareness of your stomach is a big part of Chopra’s mindful meditation strategy for losing weight. Lay a hand on your stomach before you eat and think about how hungry you are. On a scale of one to ten, with one being starved and ten being post-Thanksgiving dinner, Chopra recommends waiting till your hunger level is close to one. Food tastes better when you’re hungry. An empty stomach is the size of a closed fist. Open your hands and imagine your two palms full of food. That’s about the right amount, Chopra says. You should only fill your stomach two-thirds full for optimal digestion. This is about a level five on the one to ten scale.
Fight or Flight
The high stress level of the modern world keeps people in fight or flight mode, Dr. Oz said during his interview with Chopra. When you’re stressed, steroids release and increase your belly fat, he said, because the body interprets chronic stress as famine. But meditation counteracts this response. Rather than stressing you out, meditation soothes your nerves and averts that extra belly fat.
Teresa Bergen writes about fitness, health, yoga, travel and the arts. She is the author of "Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide" and has written hundreds of articles for publications online and off. Bergen also teaches yoga, spinning and group fitness classes, and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.