Chances are, you’re not new to meditation, so I won’t go into detail about it here. The problem is, most people dabble in it, but do not have a consistent meditation practice because:
- It feels boring in an age where we have constant entertainment.
- We feel we’re doing it wrong, so it’s a waste of time.
- We don’t see any immediate positive results, so we quit.
- The imminent disaster that pushed us to start meditating goes away.
Can I get an AMEN??
Before you give up on meditation completely, I’ll break down a few ways it helped me deal with my drama around food.
The Thought Train Doesn’t Rest
According to author Joe Dispenza, we think 60-70 THOUSAND thoughts in a day. Of those thoughts, 90% are the SAME as the day before!
The problem is, the same thoughts will produce the same behaviors.
If you close your eyes for five minutes and pay attention to what your are thinking, you will see that your thoughts are ALL OVER THE PLACE.
Here is an example of my brain during meditation:
What do I need to pick up from the grocery store?
I used to work there in high school. Hmm. I wonder where my high school friends are now…
Is Angelina Jolie sorry about being a homewrecker now that she’s getting a divorce?
Does she still work for the UN? I remember when I went to New York City to visit the UN Headquarters…
OMG I want to go there and eat at all the restaurants Mindy Kaling talked about on her IG stories…
F*ck! I’m supposed to be focused on my breath! WHY am I thinking about food in New York City!!!!!
And all of that can happen in less than a minute. That’s a LOT of thoughts.
The scary thing is, a lot of our thoughts around food are like that. A nonstop barrage of random insanity…and we are completely oblivious.
One thing I’ve learned during my journey is to stop accepting thoughts as truth.
If I see a candy bar, my brain is going to automatically think, “I WANT IT” because that’s how I have reacted for years. By recognizing that this is just a thought, I can choose to ignore it, which brings me to point number two:
Detachment from Your Thoughts
If a small toddler picks up a spoon and calls it a pizza, what would you do?
I’m going to assume you would say, “No, that’s a spoon.”
If he protested and kept calling it a fork, would you argue back? Would you get angry and emotional because he wasn’t listening to you? Would you think – this toddler doesn’t listen to me. Nobody ever listens to me, I am a sucky person, blah blah blah.
Again, I’m going to assume, no.
You would probably laugh and let it be.
That is DETACHMENT.
In contrast, think of getting into a discussion about the #metoo movement with your chauvinist coworker after a few drinks. You get emotional, you get fired up, and you probably experience a physical response in your body. In fact, a few weeks later, you might even think back on it and still be annoyed!
That is ATTACHMENT.
There are different levels to our brain. While your higher brain wants the best for you, the lower brain wants immediate rewards and protection from discomfort.
We can’t control what the low brain thinks. It is going to do everything in its power to convince you to follow your old ways. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
- Eating to deal with the stress of your crappy job.
- Spending every Friday night on the sofa with Netflix and nachos.
- Binge eating ice cream after 5 days because you haven’t seen a drop on the scale.
Guess what? These are all patterns of behavior, and if you have done them year after year, they are what your brain is used to, and they start with a thought, which I’ll call an urge.
Once we get the urge, we start to argue with ourselves. We attach. We get emotional, and it causes lots of discomfort. Think about how terrible it feels to resist cheesecake when it feels like every ounce of your body wants it!!! Eventually, we give in just to make the discomfort go away.
There’s good and bad news: We cannot make the urge go away, but we can choose to use detachment to see the urge, and respond non-emotionally. Just like with the toddler, we walk away.
The idea sounds simple, but is more difficult to execute. This is what meditation can help you with. If you can learn to dismiss random thoughts when you are in meditation, you can start to dismiss any thought that doesn’t serve you.
I’ll say it again – you are not your thoughts! This is so important!!
Meditation is not a magical cure that will end all of your issues with food. It is just one tool of many that you can have in your arsenal to prepare you when cravings hit.
You can’t meditate once and expect to effortlessly dismiss urges, in the same way you can’t work out once and lose 50 pounds. Meditation has TONS of other benefits (Google it), but for me personally, this is where it helped me most in regards to weight loss.
Here is a link to a 10 minute mindfulness meditation to get you started. Let me know how it goes!!