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The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating Acceptance and Self-Care

NEW LESSON: WINTER 2011

Meditation increases your physical and mental well-being. Consider whether you would like to incorporate meditation into your life.

Diet survivors, like everyone else, frequently feel, "stressed out." The constant stress that results from fast-paced and pressured lives takes a toll on you both physically and mentally. Meditation, the ancient art of relaxing your body and quieting your mind, has been shown to counteract the effects of stress.

As you think about whether meditation is right for you, consider some of these benefits. Meditation is associated with the reduction of high blood pressure, serum cholesterol levels, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and health care use. Meditation provides deep rest as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load on the heart. Meditation decreases free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause tissue damage and appear to be a major factor in many diseases as well as aging. Levels of lactate and cortisol, both chemicals associated with stress, also decrease. Meditation improves airflow to the lungs, resulting in easier breathing and helpful to people with asthma. Meditation increases mental clarity, enhances creativity, and increases the longevity and quality of life. What a list!

If you already practice meditation on a regular basis, celebrate the fact that you have integrated this care-taking behavior into your life. If you feel that there is just not enough time in the day to add something new to your schedule, that's okay too. Learning how to mediate is something out there for you should ever feel that it is a good match in the future.

If you do decide to pursue this path, there are many types of meditation to choose from. The Relaxation Response, taught in the book by Herbert Benson, and Transcendental Mediation are similar techniques using a mantra or repeated word, suggesting 20 minutes of practice twice a day. Buddhist meditation and mindfulness techniques focus on the awareness of the breath with full attention on the present moment to attain a meditative state.

It's hard to slow down. It's hard to clear your mind. Stress has become, for most of us, a fact of life. Meditation offers a valuable tool to counteract the effects of stress. It can help you with specific physical or mental conditions that you need to address. It can also provide you with a positive alternative for calming yourself as you move away from using food for soothing purposes. Whether you practice daily or use meditation as a tool for relaxation, calming or self-awareness at certain times, it will become another skill in your repertoire of self-care.

Activity: Say OM

There are many ways to begin a meditation practice. If you are interested in learning to meditate consider the following ways to get started:

  • Use the Internet to find out what meditation centers/instruction are in your area.

  • Browse the bookstore or your local library to read up on different types of meditation. You might want to check out CD's and videos.

  • Check out local colleges, hospitals and health clinics. They often offer meditation classes.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.
– Zenrin