Even if you’ve never meditated before, you may have heard about meditation as a great way to relax, de-stress, and even improve overall health and productivity. Whether you approach the practice as part of your faith or as a way to ease your mind after (or before) a long day, meditation is a proven-effective method of healing one’s body and mind.
For patients undergoing bariatric surgery, meditation can be an excellent tool, assisting with any preexisting anxiety or depressive conditions, improving mental outlook, and helping the patient to refocus on his or her own health.
New Evidence In Support of Meditation
Neuroscientists at Harvard University recently conducted a study in which test subjects undertook eight weeks of mindfulness meditation. According to Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, the study demonstrates that “changes in brain structure may underlie [improvements, including a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation] and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”
According to the research team, reductions in the stress of test subjects was correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, known to assist with anxiety and stress. Brain changes of this nature were not observed in the control group, none of whom practiced the eight weeks of mindfulness meditation.
Stress Relief Equals Weight Loss
Recent studies have linked the production of the hormone cortisol with increased belly fat. However, in addition to new evidence that meditation can change the structure of the brain for the better, doctors have noted for years that meditation helps decrease cortisol levels in the blood, indicating that the practice can decrease stress and risk of disease, including psychiatric disorders, peptic ulcers and migraines, when combined with standard treatments. Meditation, by helping to relieve the type of stress that releases cortisol, can also help patients reduce belly fat. When the practice is integrated into a healthy lifestyle, like the one patients must adopt on their bariatric journey, the benefits are numerous and cumulative.
How Can I Get Started?
Learning to meditate can be as simple as sitting quietly and taking deep breaths, in and out, focusing exclusively on each inhale and exhale. Feeling adventurous? There are many types of meditation worth looking into, depending on your preferences. These include:
. . . and many more! However, the simplest to learn and practice is mindfulness meditation, which involves simply sitting comfortably, clearing your mind as best you can, and focusing on your breath. Ahh.
If you are undertaking a bariatric surgery program and need to reduce the stress in your life, meditation can be a powerful tool to help you do just that. Looking for more information on our program here at WeightWise? Contact us!