Added: Tue. Jul 19, 2011 7:24pm
Ever wake up in the morning, step on the bathroom scale and then feel discouraged and resentful because your body weighs more than you want it to?
If you’ve suffered this experience, you aren’t alone.
A lot of us struggle to feel good about ourselves when our bodies don’t look as trim and fit as we’d like. If our body image doesn’t measure up to our standards, then our self-image doesn’t measure up either. For many of us, self-image and body image are inextricably linked.
What’s the solution?
Elisa Parker, an associate of mine, suggests trying meditation. “The wonderful thing about meditation, especially for someone seeking to lose weight or dealing with body image, is that it can potentially free you from your body for a few brief moments.
“By clearing the mind and releasing feelings of anxiety, including critical thoughts about your body and yourself, you can enjoy the freedom and joy of simply letting go. What a wonderful way to have a vacation from your body. An additional side benefit is that you often end up with more of a connection to your core self.
“Beginning to meditate isn’t without its challenges; your mind wanders, you question whether it is a waste of time and you wonder if you are doing it right. And on top of that, those darn irritating thoughts keep popping up.
“Meditation might include clearing the mind, visualization and focus, or even movement like yoga or tai chi to still the mind.
“Find a quiet and comfortable space in your home where you won’t be disturbed. Select a time during your day that works for you. I prefer the evening, when my family is asleep. Try mediating for five minutes, focus on your breathing and expand from there.
“Like the acquisition of other skills, the more you practice, the greater the benefit you might experience. Over time, your capacity to enjoy a sense of balance and harmony between and within your body, mind and spirit could increase.”
Elisa’s comments are worth pondering. How paradoxical that letting go of our thoughts and ideas even for short periods of time allows us to return to our bodies with greater appreciation along with an increased sense of calm and well-being.
In addition to stress release, meditation might even help with weight loss. Ruth Quillian-Wolever, Ph.D., clinical director for the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine in Durham, NC, and her colleague, Jean Kristeller, Ph.D., of Indiana State University, conducted a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health to explore a possible link between meditation and weight loss.
I’ve always used my sixty-minute workout each morning to enjoy the experience of being in my body. I contrast that experience with the one I’m having now—sitting at a computer with my mind dictating thoughts and my fingers tapping on the keyboard.
Lately, I’ve added a few minutes of focused meditation at the end of my morning routine. I guess I’m ready to add a spiritual workout to my physical workout. What about you?