In the book Meditate Your Weight, author and Yoga Medicine founder Tiffany Cruikshank outlines a 21-day program that uses targeted daily meditations to decrease stress, improve body image, and enhance metabolic function—which, when combined with healthy eating and exercise, can help you lose weight.
“Our minds and bodies are intertwined,” Cruikshank points out. “What happens in the mind can create a direct physical effect on our body, really making them one and the same. It becomes easy to forget that. Ignoring this mind-body connection often means that even if we are doing everything right—eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly—we can still be frustrated by our health and weight-loss goals.” Sound like anyone you know?
Cruikshank urges meditation as a tool for resetting that mind-body connection—and kickstarting weight loss. “Research shows that meditation helps improve our awareness of internal hunger and signals that we are full. It also increases our ability to regulate what and how much we eat,” she says. “In addition, meditation can reduce unhealthy cravings, decrease the frequency of binge and emotional eating, and reduce high levels of the stress hormone cortisol—a cause of toxic belly fat. All of these factors play a role in our weight, making meditation a very effective tool in not just weight loss, but overall health.”
Here are two of her favorite meditations—try them today for a healthier body and a sounder mind:
Daily Happiness Meditation
This simple meditation, done at the beginning of your day, helps the brain and the nervous system shift the focus from a negative place to a more positive, happiness-focused perspective.
- Begin by finding a comfortable seat and closing your eyes. Take the first couple minutes here to simply notice your breath and all of the sensations and qualities of the breath.
- Shift your awareness to three positive things that you look forward to in the day to come: Maybe a lunch meeting with a friend, or making progress on a project, or a few moments to connect with your partner over dinner in the evening. On days when you struggle to find this, look for simple things, like the moment your pet greets you when you come home. Stick to three things, and keep them simple. Allow them to occupy the forefront of your awareness as you begin your day. Do this for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes then come back to your breath for another minute or two at the end, and simply notice how the shift in perspective affects how you feel in your body.
- Repeat daily for 2-3 weeks and you will notice a significant shift in your overall happiness as your nervous system and brain start to reorient to this happier perspective
This meditation can be done at any time in the day and can be used as needed or on a daily basis.
- Begin by finding a comfortable seat and closing your eyes. Take the first couple minutes just to notice the sensations and the quality of your breath today. The trick to this is trying not to change or judge your breath but to just notice what it feels like today. Notice the ebb and flow of the breath on its own without changing or controlling it.
- Now take a moment to notice where you feel stress in your body. Notice all of the sensations and areas associated with stress for you. Then, as you continue to watch the breath without forcing or controlling it, visualize yourself letting go of this quality of stress and tension in the body with each exhale. As you do this notice your stress as a quality rather than a specific item in your mind. Continue for 3 to 10 minutes or until you feel a shift in the quality of your body and your perception of stress in your body.
- Take a minute just to notice the sensations and the quality of living in your body in this moment before you slowly come back to your day.