“Clear your mind. Your heart is trying to tell you something.” ~Unknown
I recently lost thirty-plus pounds without trying or intending to. I remember excitedly sharing this news on social media one day, after stepping on a scale in my hotel room and being shocked. I don’t own a scale, so between the time when I had last weighed myself and this day, I’d lost over thirty pounds without being conscious of it.
After my public announcement, people from all directions contacted me asking me questions. Everyone wanted to know how I did it and what could they do to lose weight too. My heart could feel the longing and pleading in their voices. I wanted to help, but what a precarious situation to find myself in! Weight loss has many layers to it, and it is completely individual to each person.
Many were hoping to hear about what pill they could take, or a new diet-of-the-day to adopt, or hoping for a secret exercise program that they hadn’t yet tried. What was the next Beach Body, ketosis, paleo, juice cleanse, gluten-free, South Beach diet, Crossfit fad—that was actually going to work this time?
My answer to this riddle was surprising to all and too unbelievable for most of my friends. But there was a handful that said they would consider giving it a try.
I lost the weight because I’d started meditating. That is the concrete foundation of it all. Many felt baffled by my answer, but it was because of my meditation practice that I naturally made lifestyle changes that led me to lose extra weight I wasn’t even aware I was carrying around.
I was in grad school at the time, and for homework my professor assigned (prescribed!) meditation. I secretly rolled my eyes when she did this and thought to myself, “I’ll blow this one off.”
About a month later, at our next teacher/student review, she told me that she could tell I wasn’t doing the meditation homework. She followed her accusation up with, “I understand if you think you don’t need this. But how are you going to lead someone down this road who does need it if you haven’t walked this road yourself?”
I was shook! How could she possibly tell I wasn’t doing the meditation homework? And the way she just called me out on it? Shamed. As an “A” student, I felt humiliated that she could tell I blew off the assignment. The fact that she knew I wasn’t meditating was enough to get me to do it.
Right there, humbled down, I began.
For twenty minutes a day, we were to clear our heads and focus on only our breath. It was excruciating! It was so much harder than I thought it was going to be, which is humorous considering the reason I blew it off in the beginning was because I thought I already knew how to do it.
I couldn’t even sit still at first. I would wiggle all around. I’d give up and then start again. Over and over. For what seemed like forever I would get angry and think about how this wasn’t working, and I didn’t think I could do it, and maybe meditation was for better people than me. Finally, after struggling daily but keeping at it, a little over two weeks later, a shift happened.
It was like when you are learning how to snowboard and every day it’s hard, and frustrating, and you spend most of your time falling down, but then with giant relief, you have that moment where you finally link your turns and suddenly you just get it. Everything clicks, and you feel like you are floating on a cloud. Or like the first time you learn how to ride your bike. Or, when you are surfing and struggling and getting beat up by the waves, and then finally you catch your first wave, and suddenly you’re gliding.
It felt like that. It was a connection. It felt good!
After that experience, when I tapped into a feeling of complete ease, peace, and surrender, I felt like I finally understood how powerful meditation can be if you keep at it. And then it became easier for me to tap into that feeling each time I practiced. Gradually, it got easier for me to maintain that feeling for longer amounts of time during the meditation.
Eventually, I was able to maintain that feeling outside of the meditation. And this is when my life really began to change.
This deeper connection to myself felt really good. This new sense of being gave me a fresh perspective, a renewed reverence for myself, which propelled me to make some changes in my lifestyle. It didn’t seem too difficult because it felt like the next natural step to take. I felt called to live in a new way.
When you meditate, you grow your self-love muscle. It grows your self-respect. Self-respect means to honor and care for yourself. This new feeling and self-awareness motivates you to make different choices and do healthier activities with your mind, body and soul.
Meditation trains you to listen to the voice inside of you that is always looking out for your highest good. When we get really good at listening to that voice, we are led to treat ourselves and others with greater care. It is not to be underestimated how life-changing this can be.
The voice inside of me told me that I needed to start going to bed by 10pm. It urged me to stop eating certain foods. It told me to get my booty moving and do daily exercise outdoors. It nudged me to stop drinking alcohol.
These were some of the changes I was called to make to take care of myself better, and as a natural byproduct I lost thirty-plus pounds in a matter of months. I watched my body morph into a body so fit that I couldn’t even recognize myself in pictures. All without consciously trying to lose weight. Meditation simply led me to love myself better, and my dream body was the result.
I don’t know what habits you personally need to change for you to get a healthier, fitter body. But I do know the tool that will get you there. We all have different habits that keep us from our best self, but meditation will give you the clarity to weed out whatever it is that you need to change.
Meditation clears away our head chatter—everything that vies for our attention and keeps us from being our best selves. Our heart, the voice of love, will always be in a battle with the mind, the voice of our ego. Meditation helps us quiet the ego so the heart can talk.
When we approach weight loss as something we need to fight, obsessing over calories and punishing our bodies in workouts, it’s an uphill battle that’s difficult to win. An unhappy journey doesn’t lead to a happy destination. This method is exhausting. It doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves.
You don’t have any more time to waste struggling against yourself, disliking yourself, or being unhappy with yourself. It’s time to try a new approach. It’s time to love yourself into better health.
When we choose to love ourselves more, we have a greater desire to treat ourselves better.
When I check in with myself before I eat, and ask myself what is the nicest food I can give to my body right now, I make different choices. Before, mostly all of my food choices were emotionally based.
Most of us don’t eat consciously; we eat emotionally, trying to stuff down feelings from the past or the present.
When we allow our emotions to rule us in this way, we are ignoring our guidance system—our intuition, our inner wisdom—about what our body needs to function at its best.
Self-betrayal is when we disregard what’s best for us, which only leads us to more unhappiness and triggered eating. This is a painful cycle to be in, and it comes with a cost. The emotional weight that we carry manifests itself as physical weight. This sets a foundation for stagnancy and disease.
Meditation stabilizes emotions. It lifts you up out of old patterns of thinking. It can set you free. Free your mind and the rest will follow.
It also helps you develop self-awareness so you’re less apt to unconsciously reach for comfort food when you’re feeling something uncomfortable. Instead, you’ll be able to ask yourself what inside you needs to be comforted. Then you’ll be able to confront your emotion instead of trying to stuff it down.
Craving comfort is really a call for love. Craving sweets is a call for more sweetness in your life. Rather than eating for your sadness, you’ll be able to see this craving as an opportunity to give yourself what you are really craving—love.
Then, over time, as you allow meditation to soothe your mind, your need for comfort dissipates. It helps you recognize that love doesn’t come from outside you; it comes from within you. When you understand this, you will no longer crave it. Love is an unlimited resource located inside you.
If you’re interested in sustainable weight loss, meditation is your key, though it’s not a quick fix. Nothing worthwhile is. A daily meditation practice will naturally lead you toward some lifestyle changes that will unburden you and lighten your load—mentally, emotionally, and physically. It will take some practice before you get the hang of it, but stick with it. Remember, it took a while for me to get it too. If I can do it, anybody can.
Now I know how my teacher could tell that I wasn’t doing the meditation homework. So much changes in you when you start meditating daily. I wasn’t connected to my inner guidance, and to those who are connected, it’s obvious when others are not.
I was living, eating, speaking, and acting unconsciously. I was led by my feelings instead of being grounded in love. So much of the world operates this way, hence why we see so much chaos, drama, and disease.
Looking back on this now, it astonishes me because I had no problem with the way I had been living, and I had no previous intention to change. I am so thankful I had a teacher who led me to meditation and held me accountable long enough for me to experience the benefits.
Only you can know what is best for you, and your inner guidance—your heart, your intuition—knows the way. Meditation will help you hear that voice. Don’t delay—begin your best life today!
About Jennifer Marut
Jennifer Marut is a certified sound healing practitioner and Ayurveda health and wellness coach in Los Angeles, California. She is the author of Dharma Unwrapped, a 21-step guide to discovering your unique life purpose. Follow her on Instagram @la_gypsygirl to learn more about Ayurveda, meditation, and sound bath events in the City of Angels.