Meditation is one of those trendy buzz words you hear a lot these days.  There is certainly a lot of truth to the hype though, I think everyone can benefit from regardless of the illness or lack of illness.   There are small studies showing that can reduce binge eating and help weight loss. One study showed meditation can help you lose about an additional 1 kg per 2 months, which is 6 kg or 13 pounds per year, on top of your other weight loss from healthy food and movement changes.

But the truth is meditation has beneficial impacts for you and everyone around you in ways far beyond just weight loss.  Remember the point of this course is not just to lose weight, but to live a healthier and happier life. Meditation helps make you happier, helps you be more patient and kind which helps your relationships, it reduces your pain and inflammation and has a range of other benefits.  And it’s free!

But there are a lot of common misunderstandings about it due to the commercialisation, media and Hollywood effect.  We picture an old monk, sitting in a mountain cave, silent and peaceful, empty mind, realising the truths of the universe. But we when we try it is nothing like that – it hurts to sit cross-legged, we can’t find the time or place, our mind is unable to stop and we end frustrated. But that is not because meditation doesn’t work, but rather because the way we are doing it is incorrect and our expectations of it are not based on reality but rather a Hollywood image of meditation.

Meditation dates back many thousands of years and is included in many cultures. As a result, there are many many types of meditation, many different practices and many different teachings.  Some are sitting, some lying, some walking, some chanting, some are guided, some are mindful on breathing, some relaxing, some are on gratitude and forgiveness and so on.

Hence this is the first important principle – there are many types and what works for someone else may or may not work for you.  So try a few and see what fits. And it is likely that as times goes on you may feel a natural urge to try a different type – that is ok.  It is normal to need different things at different stages of your life. And this is true for weight loss and any healthy behaviour change.  Sometimes you may need to practice mindfulness, sometimes forgiveness to yourself or others, sometimes you need to practice relaxation. So don’t become fixated on there being “only one way”

The most common barrier I hear goes like this – “I tried meditation/mindfulness, I can’t stop my mind ..therefore I failed… therefore there is no point”

This represents the next most common misunderstanding about the mind and about meditation. You are not trying to “stop” or “empty” the mind, that is like consciously trying to make your hair to stop growing or heart to stop beating. Our mind is a tool and we can learn how to use it.

As for time and frequency – that is another common myth, that you have to do it for hours.  You really don’t. 10-20 minutes one to two times a day is a great start. Make the time, don’t create excuses.  Meditation saves you time because it makes you sleep better and thinking more creatively and effectively when you are working.  It also helps you realise that so much of how we spend our time is silly, on social media or getting into arguments and other forms of time wasting.  The position also matters, so try sitting up on a soft chair with pillows, or lying down. Again whatever works for you.

I have found this a good TED talk by Light Walker I recommend to patients to break those myths early… it is not everything obviously but it is a good talk nonetheless

There is no shortage of meditation resources out there, so my suggestion is simply to go searching and try a few and see what works for you.  Common apps are Smiling Minds, Headspace, Omvana, Wake up and simply going on YouTube and searching “meditation” or “guided meditation”.

So what I recommend doing right after this video stops is downloading of those apps or finding some youtube clips and saving them to your playlist or watch later list, and commit to putting aside 10-20 minutes in the morning or before bed TODAY. Personally, I like before bed because I can control that time more easily.

Further viewing:

TED talk by Light Walker – “Debunking the 5 most common meditation myths”