... meditation could be a key in helping people to control their dietary habits and help them lose weight.
A weighty problem
There are many reasons why we find ourselves a few more pounds overweight than we would prefer or indeed several grams lighter than we consider our optimum.
Ultimately, the key factor in determining whether we tend to over-eat or under-eat is down to the stress signatures we experience in our life, either through our programmed responses or the nature of our work.
If we are in a constant state of stress, then we generally under-eat, or are hypophagic. If we are subject to frequent intermittent stressors, then we will lean towards over-eating, or being hyperphagic.
In fact, stress makes two thirds of people over-eat. The main reason why most of us in industrialised societies tend towards this hyperphagic status is because we haven’t evolved to cope with a life of intermittent psychological stressors.
Every time we get stressed, the fast acting appetite suppressors of the stress response dissipate quickly, while the slow acting recovery hormones induce a desire for abundant uptake of glucose and fats into our cells. These hoard whatever they can to ensure we always have access to a live-aboard lunchbox.
The more we get stressed, the longer the period of uptake and the more we end up hoarding on board.
Some people lose weight of course, when they’re stressed, and for them the answer is still very much balance and internal harmony. But the majority of us gravitate towards having more gravitational pull.
Numerous studies have shown that physical or emotional stress increases the intake of fatty, sugary foods leading to stress-induced cravings.1
And the additional emotional comfort of fatty, sugary foods under the stress response is often too much of a temptation, even for the best intentioned of us! So we end up in double trouble.
Not only that, high cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels correlate with fat and sugar cravings.2
How can Vedic meditation help?
When we meditate, our overactive stress response dissipates and we are not at the mercy of the fat hoarding cells.
We find ourselves graduating towards more healthy patterns of eating and our digestive system also becomes stronger now that it’s not subject to such frequent stress shutdown.
This means we are better able to metabolise our food. As a result of absorbing the key nutrients in our dietary intake more effectively, our diet becomes spontaneously more balanced and we find ourselves much more capable of self restraint.
And as our perception becomes more refined, dysmorphic tendencies tend to dissipate.
It is also worthwhile considering that we are all born with different shapes, and no matter how much the media tries boxing us into picture perfect body ideals, the most natural and healthy way to be, is to be comfortable in your skin.
This is just another area where Vedic meditation is so profoundly brilliant. Not only does it dramatically reduce our stress levels, it also gives us access to daily doses of our deepest, most authentic self.
The more we come into contact with our inner essence, the less we identify ourselves with the body and the more we become identified with what really counts, who we really are.
When we meditate, we grow in self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. We develop an inner richness that allows us to feel good regardless of our weight.
... I've lost 2 stone in the 2 months since I learned and I haven't even tried. I feel fantastic!
Eric, Filmmaker, Essex
What's the proof?
Vedic meditation helps us to normalise our weight by counteracting the stress response4 and reducing our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) by an average of 33%.5
Meditation also helps improve the quality of our sleep6 and improves the quantity of sleep in those who need it (42% reduction in sleep disorders).7 This plays an additionally significant role in helping people maintain a healthy balance of the hunger hormones.
Meditation also provides greater hormonal balance in addition to that which sleep brings.8
You didn't tell me I was going to need a new wardrobe! I've been trying to diet for over 10 years, and I've never gotten anywhere. Since learning to meditate with you, I've lost 1 stone 7lbs in two months! The weight has literally fallen off of me, which is especially remarkable as Christmas is usually my downfall but not this time. I find I'm eating much more healthily and I don't even want any snacks, its wonderful.¨
Annabel, Business Operations Manager, London
4 American Psychologist 1987
5 Wallace RK, and Benson H, “The Physiology of Meditation”, Scientific American, pg 88 February 1972
6 British Journal of Nursing, 1995
7 Journal of Counselling and Development 64: 212-215, 1985
8 Hormonal Behaviour 1978