by Andrew Shykofsky
It may not be obvious, but meditation can be a vital factor for those that struggle to lose weight. The reason meditation works is people battling with their weight often eat beyond their natural hunger—they eat for emotional comfort.
Once a person has established patterns of emotional eating, they become habitual and very difficult to break. Anxieties, fears, disappointments, frustrations and especially depression lead many to eat as a way to feel better and distract themselves from emotional discomfort. Anxious or agitating feelings stir when life throws us a curveball and our brain chemistry abruptly shifts. The filter to curb our appetite for comfort food or alcohol in those moments gets turned off.
Certain styles of meditation encourage the practitioner to explore and face their emotions while in a deeply relaxed meditative state. With practice, control over the impulse to over eat can be gained and better decisions made about how to manage stress in those tough moments. Imagine someone with a propensity to eat sitting quietly and examining just what is going on before the point of turning to food when negative emotions hit. It is clear then what leads to the overindulging.
Meditation is a way to slow down the rapid-fire impulses triggered when we are emotional. Unmanaged, these impulses encourage us to indulge and seek out instant gratification through food. The worst thing about this is it works; the instant gratification we find in eating sweets or carb-heavy snacks does provide temporary relief. That’s why we call it comfort food. What doesn’t feel good is the aftermath of eating too much. One solution lies in developing a process to manage difficult emotions when they hit, and this is best accomplished beforehand, using meditation.
Once the technique is learned, there are other preparations that can be made, like clearing certain foods from our shelves or brushing our teeth to signal to the brain that eating is finished. The deepest transformation occurs in a calm, meditative state, where we learn how to process disruptive emotions promptly, instead of using comfort foods to numb the pain.
Andrew Shykofsky is the lead meditation instructor at Meditate Center for Healing Arts, in West Ashley. Classes begin Jun. 21. For more information, email Andrew@MeditateCenter.coml or visit MeditateCenter.com.