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Health & Balance

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Does Meditation Help You Lose Weight?

By Jenn Horton
WebMD Feature

Your efforts around exercising and eating well are helping your blood pressure and your weight. Something else might also help: meditation.

Meditation -- the practice of focusing your attention in order to find calm and clarity -- can lower high blood pressure. It can also help you manage stress, which drives some people to eat.

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"People often put on weight from trying to comfort themselves with food," says Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine.

Although there's not a lot of research showing that meditation directly helps you lose weight, meditation does help you become more aware of your thoughts and actions, including those that relate to food.

For example, a research review showed that meditation can help with both binge eating and emotional eating.

"Any way to become more mindful will guide that process," Perlman says.

How to Meditate

There are many ways to meditate. The CDC says that most types of meditation have these four things in common:

  • A quiet location. You can choose where to meditate -- your favorite chair? On a walk? It's up to you.
  • A specific comfortable posture, such as sitting, lying down, standing, or walking.
  • A focus of attention. You can focus on a word or phrase, your breath, or something else.
  • An open attitude. It's normal to have other thoughts while you meditate. Try not to get too interested in those thoughts. Keep bringing your attention back to your breath, phrase, or whatever else it is you're focusing on.

Pick the place, time, and method that you want to try. You can also take a class to learn the basics.

Becoming a 'Witness,' Not a Judge

Meditating requires a commitment to stop and look within and around you, even if you have only a few moments, says Geneen Roth, author of the New York Times best-seller Women Food and God.

"The way I teach meditation and integrate it for myself is to focus on being a witness to your thoughts and not so much how long you need to practice," Roth says. "You want to learn how to quiet your mind and sometimes avoid the stories you tell yourself, like you need to go eat cookies or that bag of chips."

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