There are several approaches to using meditation for weight loss. In this article, you’ll learn about a few of the most popular types, and their strengths and weaknesses, so you can decide which might be most useful for you.
“Meditation” as Mind Control
A common misunderstanding is that the purpose of meditation is to empower the mind to control the body’s “weak flesh.” This is misguided, and neglects one of the most valuable aspects of meditation for weight loss – its ability to unify the split between mind and body that is the most fundamental reason that so many people feel out of control with food.
There are mental exercises that may be useful for weight management, but whether hypnosis, biofeedback, visualizations, affirmations, or manifesting techniques, these shouldn’t be confused with meditation proper. As you’ll soon learn, meditation is significantly more powerful and transformative than any of these methods (as useful as they may be for some people at times). This is because the will and desire to control one’s mind or body is ultimately a futile endeavor. After all, if control really worked, then relatively few people would be overweight or have disordered or compulsive eating behaviors!
Mind Training Meditation
There are a number of “mind trainings” that qualify as meditation. These are different from the above mental exercises because their goal isn’t to enhance one’s control.
One ancient and popular form of mind training is focused on developing one’s concentration, in order to temporarily still the mind and cultivate states of deep calm and tranquility. Examples of concentration meditation include “mantra” meditations such as the Jesus Prayer.
Other forms of mind training meditations develop positive states of mind, such as lovingkindness or compassion.
Mind training meditations can be exceptionally useful as part of a comprehensive and healthy approach to weight management. Concentration meditation is effective at reducing stress, which is a leading cause of overeating. Lovingkindness and compassion meditations enhance your relationship with yourself and others, which can be powerfully transformative for people with low self-esteem or a negative body image.
Awareness / Mindfulness Meditation
The most powerful and proven form of meditation for attaining and sustaining long-term healthy weight management is awareness or “mindfulness” meditation. Mindfulness meditation also has the most scientific research backing its claims. It works in several ways. Mindfulness meditation reduces stress, heals the mind/body split that is at the root of most disordered eating, and puts you in touch with your natural hunger and satiety cues. It also frees you from the influence of emotions and thought patterns that provoke you to eat (when you are not mindful and conscious of them).
To sum up, techniques to cultivate “mind control” are not meditation. Techniques that cultivate concentration, compassion, and lovingkindness are forms of meditation, and can be an effective support for weight management. The most powerful of meditation techniques is awareness or “mindfulness,” which alone has the power to lastingly transform your relationship to your body, mind, emotions, and behavior. Mindfulness (particularly mindful eating) is the pinnacle of meditation for weight loss.
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