Any successful attempt at spiritual weight loss involves a consistent spiritual practice. Mindfulness meditation is one of the simplest, most powerful spiritual practices, and hundreds of scientific research studies have demonstrated its numerous physical and psychological benefits (in addition to its spiritual benefits). There is ample evidence that mindfulness meditation and mindful eating together provide one of the most effective practices for healthy weight loss and long-term weight management. This article offers a brief overview of how mindfulness works to promote healthy weight loss and a healthy, balanced approach to eating.
What is mindfulness? How does it “work”? Mindfulness simply means awareness. “Practicing” mindfulness means being intentionally (and non-judgmentally) aware of what is happening in each moment, as best you can. We focus on cultivating awareness of bodily sensations, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions.
The above sentence reveals that mindfulness is a much more profound approach to weight management than most. Diets don’t often work in the long-term (as the National Institutes of Health reported in 1992). Why? Because most diets ignore our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and bodily signals that, when healthily synchronized, intelligently inform our eating. (And when not synchronized, may lead us towards unhealthy or even addictive eating.)
Fortunately, mindfulness offers a way out.
The body is the doorway to a mindfulness or spiritual approach to weight loss. Most of us are out of touch with our bodies. Deepening our awareness of the body helps us get back in touch with its natural hunger and satiety (fullness) cues. We learn to eat when we’re truly hungry and stop when we’ve had enough.
We can become mindful of our eating habits (such as eating too fast), as well as the rich and enjoyable sensory experience of food that we may have missed through lack of awareness. Mindful eating helps us better appreciate our food, and thus enjoy food more while eating less.
We can become mindful of our thoughts. We may not be aware just how powerfully thoughts influence our behavior. Nearly all of our actions – and most fixated or addictive behavior – is preceded by thought-intentions of which we are not aware. Cultivating mindfulness of these thoughts is essential for attaining liberation from food fixations.
Mindfulness meditation gives us a totally new and liberated way of relating to our emotions, because mindfulness teaches us to observe our emotions instead of sedating them with food. Anything that you can observe has no power over you. Emotions only lead to unwanted eating when we are not fully conscious of them.
Mindfulness can be practiced along with literally any diet or dietary program. As your mindfulness deepens, you will naturally be drawn towards a way of eating that is healthier, less fixated, and more enjoyable. You may even rediscover that your body intuitively knows what and how much to eat, and that you no longer need to submit to the rules, recipes, and restrictions of diets. The idea of spiritual weight loss becomes a reality.
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