By Mellissa Nazareth
Most of us struggle to lose or gain weight by focussing on our physical bodies alone. The trick, however is, to win the battle in our minds first, says Melissa Nazareth
The Upanishads say the human body is like a chariot, which is being pulled by five horses. These five horses are the five senses namely sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. The reins (symbolising the mind) are in the hands of the charioteer called intellect who takes directions from the passenger called soul sitting inside the chariot. When the passenger is awake, he gives proper command to the charioteer who steers the horses in the right direction. But when the passenger goes to sleep the horses hold sway and the charioteer submits to the pull of the reins. However, if the soul wakes up to its higher nature and decides to be proactive, it can use the intellect properly and judiciously. This awakened state can be used to achieve anything in life, including your desired body shape and weight. And meditation is the fastest way to achieve your dream size.
Yes, you heard it right. You can meditate your way to becoming slimmer, fitter and happier.
Meditation is the key to handing over the power to the soul. Once the soul power gets awakened you can use it to achieve any target set by you, which also includes the most elusive goal of weight loss.
Magic of meditation
Ayesha was bogged down with the challenges posed by an inter-caste marriage. “I was under a lot of stress at home,” she says. “Moreover, I couldn’t conceive and was under medication for Polycystic Ovarian Disease and high blood pressure.” That’s when she approached Anita Pandit, a certified meditation and yoga teacher, and practitioner in Mumbai. “She took me through her meditation sessions which helped me regain my composure. It further transformed my negative attitude towards my weight loss programme and I went down from 80 kilos to 60 kilos.” Ayesha’s delivery too was complicated. Since she suffered from high blood pressure, the doctors were apprehensive to operate on her. “I was told I needed a C-section but the doctors refused to go ahead with it. That’s when I called Anita and she asked me to chant Om and meditate, which I did.” After an hour of meditation, Ayesha was able to convince her doctors. Consequently, they delivered her a healthy, bonny baby boy, who she named, Omran since it had the word ‘Om’ in it.
“I had just delivered my daughter and wanted to shed the extra kilos,” recalls Anita Pandit. “I tried going to the gym for three years but failed to get a satisfactory result, and no diets were working either. That’s when I switched to meditation and yoga which worked wonders for me.” Today, Anita is 50 and hardly looks like it!
During her formal training in meditation and yoga, she learned about Prana Dharana and Sakshi Bhava. Prana Dharana means being aware of our breath and Sakshi Bhava means witnessing our emotions. Anita says that these are precursors to meditation and usually takes her students through a few of these sessions before they’re ready to meditate. Focusing on the breath helps calm the minds and once we do that we’re in a better position to identify our emotions, especially those that may be troubling us or blocking our energies from flowing freely. Anita shares how one of her students, a school principal, used to be constantly stressed. After a few sessions of Prana Dharana and Sakshi Bhava, she realised that a childhood experience with her mother had greatly hurt her. Though she had grown up, the child within her was stuck back in time. It’s not uncommon for such energy blocks to manifest as physical illnesses, including obesity. Meditation helps us identify such blocks, liberates us from them and restores wellness within our body. When we approach weight loss from this place of power and peace, we are bound to see positive results. No points for guessing that the school principal eventually overcame her stress problem through the magic of meditation.
Uma Shedde, yet another Mumbai-based meditation and yoga teacher, and practitioner, says, “During meditation, the mind drops all negativity and doubts and gets in touch with positivity and pure joy. When the stress of daily life raises our cortisol levels, the fat loss process slows down. Guided meditation, done for as little as five minutes a day, can have a deep impact on the way we perceive ourselves, eat our food and react to stressful stimuli. This spiritual awareness plays a great part in our food habits and work out culture.” Uma advocates practising a combination of meditation, a special breathing called Ujjayi (hissing sound from throat while breathing out) and purifying asanas to stimulate the endocrine system. The same can be applied to gain weight if you are underweight.
The struggle of being under-weight
Founder of Mind Your Health & Weight, Mumbai-based Manoj Lekhi, achieved his fitness goals purely through meditation. He was 53 kilos and underweight but through a consistent meditation routine alone gained eight kilos in a little over a year. “Most people think weight loss or gain is solely about diet and exercise,” he says. “While they are important parameters, food has a mere 10 percent impact and exercise 15 percent. There are other important factors like our thoughts and feelings which contribute 20 percent, our belief systems 25 percent and our consciousness, vibrations and intentions 30 percent.” All of these sum up to a total of 100 percent. Manoj, through his own experience and those of others he has worked with, is confident that if we observe our thought patterns and practice high vibrational self talk, our bodies will take their rightful shape. He even conducts workshops where you’re taught the various tools to get rid of the internal toxins by becoming more aware. Some of the themes his workshops focus on are forgiveness, gratitude and self-love.
After enjoying favourable results, Manoj worked with a few friends who were successful too. This spurred him on to launch 'Mind Your Health & Weight', about a year and a half ago, to help more and more people. “We’ve seen individuals who weighed 129 kilos come down to 109 kilos in just a month without any diet or exercise,” says Manoj, adding that 90 percent of the people he helped achieved weight loss and the remaining 10 percent, weight gain. “The whole idea is to see your body differently and believe you have the power to change your body.” Manoj has been practicing meditation for the past 27 years. In addition to health benefits, he has rid himself of the constant need to run the rat race. He encourages everyone to practice meditation at least twice a day for 15 minutes each. Manoj himself meditates three to five times a day for 15 to 20 minutes each.
A course in weight loss
Marianne Williamson, author of the book A Course in Weight Loss and audio CD Meditations for Weight Loss, shares spiritual lessons on ‘surrendering your weight forever.’ In the former, she focuses on aspects like breaking down the walls of shame and guilt, addressing body issues with love and not hatred, bridging gaps between the ‘thin you’ and ‘not so thin you’, accessing the divine power within which supersedes negative energies and transforms addictive energies, and creating a love affair with food instead of being in an obsessive relationship with it. In all the chapters, Marianne highlights that the issue of weight loss transcends the physical body.
Marianne’s audio CD offers a set of meditations and affirmations for a new beginning. They help you alter patterns of self-sabotage and allow you to release feelings of failure, self-hatred, and regret. These meditations and reflections on conscious weight loss put you in touch with the deepest, strongest parts of yourself, and when you focus your attention on the spirit within you, you shift your relationship with yourself, and your body – from one of fear to one of love. The more you practise these empowering meditations, the more you will become attuned to the wisdom of your spirit and your body will regain its natural intelligence.
Though there are quite a few cases where meditation alone has helped in achieving fitness goals, it’s worth mentioning that we can’t always substitute it for a healthy diet, regular exercise and prescribed medication.
Listen to your body
More often than not we are obsessed with competing with others and even ourselves when it comes to fitness goals. For instance, if we practice yoga, we find ourselves pushing our bodies to master difficult postures just because other students in the class can do them. Again, if we hit the gym, we are in a hurry to lift heavy weights because it makes us feel like we have achieved a milestone. Even when it comes to diets, we are unrealistic and end up completely eliminating certain foods leading to fatigue, or worse, cravings. No matter what our fitness routine, it’s important to listen to our bodies. Meditation calms our minds and in the process makes us more aware of our bodies’ responses. Just like the body knows perfectly well how to keep your lungs functioning and heart pumping, it knows what ideal weight to keep you at; in Marianne's words, ‘the perfectly calibrated you’. It’s the mind that we need to calm. After all, the goal of meditation is not to control your thoughts but to stop letting them control you.
Benefits of meditation
Lowers high blood pressure
Reduces anxiety and stress
Improves clarity and concentration
Improves cardiovascular health and immunity
Boosts energy levels
Improves mood, and by extension behaviour
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