You might think that meditation and food are as easily compared as bicycles and diamonds; however, I have three reasons why you should meditate to help get your relationship with food and your body on better terms.
Last summer, I was so good about meditating almost on a daily basis and I loved it! Once school started last fall, though, I let it fall by the wayside. In the last week or so, I’ve been better about meditating on a regular basis. There are so many benefits to meditating, the first and foremost being mindfulness. Being mindful means that you are aware of your body, rather than letting your thoughts monopolize your attention. Mindfulness means paying attention to the sounds, smells and sights when you are out in nature or noticing the feel and sound of water falling over your hands as you are washing dishes after dinner.
Generally, meditating means that you focus on breathing deeply into your belly. You notice the cool air as it comes in through your nose, and how it’s warmer as it exits your body. You pay attention to the rise and fall of your belly and you inhale and exhale. I also like to pay attention to my heartbeat when meditating. Don’t expect for it to be easy to only pay attention to your body at first and don’t beat yourself up when you notice your thoughts taking your attention away from mindfulness. When you notice that your attention is waning, gently bring your focus back to your breath, or whatever else you’ve chosen as your anchor (heartbeat, awareness of different body parts and how they are tense or relaxed).
Learning to be mindful is simple but difficult. We are so used to focusing solely on our thoughts that we almost forget that we have a body to be aware of! I’m going to try to convince you how meditating and learning to be mindful can be beneficial in learning to accept and love your body and in healing your relationship with food.
- Meditating is very soothing and calming. Whether we have had a stressful day at work, been sitting in awful traffic, or are suffering from PMS, the act of breathing is a good antidote to these feelings. What does this have to do with food? Many of us are so accustomed to using food to assuage our feelings, whether they be sad, happy, angry, bored, stressed, or tired. If meditating can relax us, we will be less likely to use food as our self-soothing mechanism.
- Learning to be mindful through meditation carries over into other parts of our lives. Being mindful means that we can truly enjoy being out in nature, spending time with our friends and family, or the eating experience. If we learn to pay attention to the smell, taste and texture of food, we can retrain ourselves to really enjoy our food. This will leave us feeling so much more satisfied after eating. When we inhale our food within minutes or eat while watching TV, we don’t pay attention to the eating experience, and we can feel deprived, which can lead us to eating beyond the point of fullness.
- Learning to be mindful of our bodies is also important for us to get in touch with our hunger and satiety cues. So many of us have spent years eating because it’s time to eat or because we have what I like to call head or heart hunger. The key to learning to fix our relationship with food is to eat when hungry (stomach hungry, that is) and stop when we feel satisfied. By learning to pay attention to our bodies, it will be easier for us to get more in touch with those cues.
- Meditating helps us center ourselves and get in contact with the true person inside of us. Many of us often use food or bingeing as an escape to get out of the craziness of our lives and reconnect with our needs. The calming act of meditating achieves this goal without jeopardizing our waist lines!
How many of you meditate? Have any of you found it easier to get in touch with your body, wants and needs as you learn mindfulness?