We've been hearing a lot over the past couple of years that meditation is a great practice to incorporate into your daily life if you're trying to lose weight. But we can understand why you might be skeptical of that claim, which is why we spoke with Bob Roth, author of Strength in Stillness and transcendental meditation (TM) expert, who has taught Katy Perry, Jerry Seinfeld, and Gisele Bündchen how to use TM regularly.
If you've never heard of TM before, it's a unique type of meditation that's done twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, sitting comfortably in a chair with your eyes closed. Bob described TM as "a simple, effortless mental technique that gives your mind and body — within a minute or two — a profound state of restful alertness."
TM can only be taught with one-on-one instruction by a specially trained teacher. "This is not a mass meditation," Bob told POPSUGAR. "You're taught in personal instruction how to use a one- or two-word mantra that has no meaning." That mantra "acts as a catalyst" which allows your mind to settle into a state of rest that, in some ways, is deeper than sleep. In a nutshell, "it's an incredible relaxation process."
"Cortisol compromises metabolism. There's a direct correlation between stress and weight gain."
Gisele has been practicing TM for over a decade, and it's helped her find peace in her life, as well as improved her mood. Clearly, meditation provides countless benefits, so we asked Bob to tell us specifically about the science behind meditation and weight loss. We're starting to think meditation is one of the primary reasons Gisele has looked flawless and trim for all these years.
"We know if a person is stressed, they get sick more. If they're stressed, they gain weight," Bob explained. A lot of this comes down to the release of cortisol in the body. "Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys. It's a stress hormone," he said.
When too much cortisol is released into the body, "it weakens the immune system, floods the hippocampus, and shuts down the memory center of the brain." When you were in school, you may remember studying for weeks on end for a big test, only to freeze and not remember a damn thing when the test is actually in front of you. Bob said this is cortisol doing its work.
"It's an incredible relaxation process."
"Cortisol is toxic when we have too much, and it's secreted in huge amounts when we're stressed," he said. "And cortisol compromises metabolism. We don't digest food well. There's a direct correlation between stress and weight gain."
But meditation practices like TM have been proven to lower the levels of cortisol in the body, which means you're better able to digest the food you eat. Additionally, with less cortisol in your system, you'll obviously be less stressed, which means you'll be more likely to make better food choices throughout your day. That equals less fried food, less sugar, and less processed stuff.
"Stress is greater than ever before," Bob warned, so there are more reasons than ever to give TM a try. If you're curious about learning more about this simple method, check out the TM website to find a teacher near you. It might be the very thing you need to help you along your weight-loss journey.