UNITED STATES—A Buddhist monk, the last person on Earth I would have imagined expressing an interest in drastic weight loss, asked me what I did to lose 30 pounds in one month. That question launched this series of articles on losing 30 pounds in 30 days—to share all the stricter practices I adopted during that time of dramatic weight-loss.
Drum-roll, please: It is time to reveal an added practice that bolstered my success in getting into better shape and helps to maintain it—something second-nature for any Buddhist monk—that is meditation.
I became suddenly receptive to meditation after researching a newspaper story on napping. Turns out many of history’s heavy hitters took naps: Einstein for one, JFK, and Thomas Edison all did it; for Winston Churchill the afternoon siesta was non-negotiable to recharge his batteries. A 2002 Harvard study shows that a 30-minute nap restores employee productivity to early-morning levels, and Japanese industry encourages this, designating naptimes for their workforce. Whatever our mores and snickering associations between napping and laziness, I was ready to embrace napping.
A few years later when I was living inLos Angelesand had already begun my plan to lighten up, it was a short step from napping to meditation. Meditation (starting with the “Meditation for Dummies” book and CD) added a valuable new habit in my weight-loss odyssey. Meditation is best performed on an empty stomach, three or more hours after eating. This knowledge directly strengthened the braid of my dietary habits and reinforced eating lots of fruits and veggies and not eating between meals. Having already digested food enhances the quality of the meditation. The science for this goes back to the rapid digestion times of fruits and vegetables: all that blood and oxygen is freed from the gut to center on the brain.
The reward of meditation is a time out for your brain and body. Like napping, meditation offers the body a chance to rest and opens the door, so whatever was freaking you out can drift away. It yields resilience and a respite from the rat’s maze of cares and stress. The better the meditation experience is, the more you will benefit. So naturally you’ll want to observe no eating for the hours leading up to the meditation.
For our purposes meditation is a sitting, eyes closed, awake nap. Yes, there are many types of meditation and hair-splitting over how to do it. Just close your eyes and, as Reverend Michael Beckwith says, “Get your butt down on the floor.” It takes about five minutes to get into the soothing “alpha” state, where the body is totally relaxed and the mind alert.
There may be a lot of hand-wringing and fear, “Am I doing it right?” This apprehension over doing something new right has been a prime hindrance of our growth and blossoming as a species. If your eyes are closed and your sitting on your behind, that’s good enough. As with the 30-day plan to lighten up, bravely adopt a new habit, however awkwardly it feels, and if you manage to do it most—not all the time—it will be transformative. That’s the great power of these practices. You don’t have to think about it; it becomes part of you. And there’ll be plenty of time ahead to absorb new knowledge and refine techniques.
Now meditation has become a gateway to my afternoon meal. It I have a meditation to look forward to, it motivates my non-eating in the three hours before meditation. While inducing a calmer state before the meal, it encourages enjoying food, looking at its colors and surfaces, chewing it slowly and savoring it.
Meditation I recommend as a point of honesty—sharing ALL the strands and habits that strengthen and reinforce my plan for living and eating. It will surely align and strengthen your ability to lighten up dramatically in 30 days and maintain lasting fitness.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” now on Amazon Kindle. He can be reached at gr**********@ca*********.com.
By Grady Miller