A Surprising Link: Meditation and Weight Loss

Meditation and weight loss

Guest Post by Will Williams, founder of Quiet Minds Meditation in Geneva

Ever since summer arrived there seems to be a good number of runners on the streets. Some perhaps are in training for a marathon, and others no doubt love the rush of wind and air in their faces, but many, I strongly suspect, are looking to lose weight so that the summer’s swimwear look is hot, or at least more respectable.

Imbued with our western ethic of ‘no pain, no gain’, we are generally keen to run until we drop, ambitious in our distances to run and inches to loose.  Now, as strange as it may seem, the best way to move towards your ideal weight is not necessarily to go running or rowing, spinning or skiing, it is actually to sit still.

How so? Surely we either need to burn calories or reduce them in order to lessen our cuddly bits?

That does indeed make intuitive sense, but it neglects the biological and psychological dynamics at play with weight gain.

Better to ask ourselves the question of why we find ourselves gravitating towards too much of the wrong foods or why we seem to be putting on weight regardless of consumption levels?

The biggest single culprit is stress. When we are subject to intermittent stress, or Chronic Background Stress as our friends at the WHO call it, a number of physiological changes take place which will cause us to start cultivating kilos. The first is that stress causes two thirds of us to overeat. The second is that stress causes us to start hungering for fatty, sugary foods.

So why does this happen?

Initially, when we experience stress, we break down all of the fats stored in our body ready for a suitably strong ‘fight or flight’ response. Energy is quickly created for a fast sprint or a gladiatorial showdown.  But as soon as the emergency is declared over, the process goes into reverse and the body wants to regain everything it just burned, and it wants to add some extra as insurance against another episode. This is usually stored up in the abdominal area, giving us an unmistakably round shape. And the more times we break down and rebuild our energy stores, the more insurance the body requires and the weightier we become.

So if we are subject to intermittent stress, whether it be time pressures, work pressures, or even little stresses like running for the bus or getting stuck in traffic, our innate survival programmes will kick in and we will begin hoarding glucose and proteins in our fat cells.

This is the reason why, when we lose weight through the stress of excessive exercise or excessive dieting, we cannot help but feel the urge to binge afterwards, particularly if there are lots of other demands and stresses in our lives!

Unfortunately, our busy modern lives mean that many of us have a tendency to engorge. Our biology, which hasn’t evolved to cope with the industrial and post-industrial life, finds it all quite stressful and so starts triggering the urge to accumulate.  And so here we are with a bulging body-mass index despite our many attempts to stay svelte.

So clearly, if we’re going to be smart in our bid to slim, what we really need is to sort out our stress levels.

Meditation can help in a number of ways. Firstly, if we have an effective technique, it will help calm our stress response down so that not only do we feel more serene in our lives, we also don’t subject ourselves to bingeing on foodstuffs in order to offset the resource depletion of stress. So if we are less stressed, we will feel less compelled to eat lots of food, and we won’t find ourselves hungering for the fatty, sugary foods our body calls out for when we experience stress.

Vedic meditation also helps regulate our insulin resistance so that our fat cells are less prone to hoarding every single morsel of fat. Instead, we have a healthy and balanced regulation of insulin which allows us to have more energy to burn in our day, instead of accumulating it around our middle.

In fact it regulates all of our hormones so that we feel much more stable in our lives and the emotional comfort seeking, which often drives the food consumption process, also begins to fall away.

The individually customised sounds that we use in Vedic meditation have such a powerfully soothing and cleansing effect on the nervous system, it means that all of our stored up negative programming begins to wash away out of the system. In its place is a rapidly developing nervous system which is complimented beautifully by the enhanced neurological development that follows from this practice. It allows us to build far superior inter-neuronal connections and response patterns to all aspects of life and living including our food. So instead of having to ‘try’ to eat healthily, or ‘try’ to avoid unhealthy junk, or ‘try’ to do exercise, we find ourselves happily gravitating towards all healthy pursuits without feeling like we’re swimming against the tides of our own sub-conscious programming.

So whilst a combination of exercise and good diet is certainly key, if we don’t combine them with an effective stress reduction programme, then we’re always going to be fighting an uphill battle and it may prove somewhat exhausting and self-defeating.

And if we are pounding the treadmill, this meditation practice helps process the lactic acid in our muscles, provides greater levels of oxygenation within our blood, ensures our hormonal balance is not affected by the intensive exercise and helps keep our nervous system in balance when it would usually become overexcited by the workout.

It also helps us tune into our digestion and harmonises our digestive rhythms, which increases our ability to absorb the nutrients and feel more energised, no matter what we have in our diet.

So there we are, who would have initially thought it?!  Meditation can help us on all levels, not just being the most relaxed cat in the office!

The wonderful thing is that we can meditate anywhere we like as well. We can stay in shape and meditate even while we’re on the sun lounger wearing our most revealing swimwear, and what better way to tune out than with the sound of the morning waves or sunset surf lapping near our feet…

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About the Author: 

Will Williams is the founder of Quiet Minds Meditation in Geneva. Follow him on Google+.

Find out more about attending a free introduction talk on Vedic Meditation in Geneva here.

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2 Comments

  • Amy on Sep 08, 2014 Reply

    Great! it makes so much sens!
    thank you

    • Hiba on Sep 08, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Amy, glad you enjoyed it!

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