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Take a Break From Your Body: Meditate

Negative thoughts sabotaging your fitness efforts? Take a mental—and physical—vacation with meditation.

Ever wake up in the morning, step on the bathroom scale, and feel discouraged and resentful because your body weighs more than you want it to?

If you've suffered this experience, you are not alone.

A lot of us struggle to feel good about ourselves when our bodies don't look as trim and fit as we would like. If our body image doesn't measure up to our standards, often our self-image doesn't measure up either. What's the solution?

Elisa Parker, 36, of Nevada City, Calif., a lifelong yoga practitioner and associate of mine, suggests trying meditation: "The wonderful thing about meditation, especially for someone seeking to lose weight or dealing with body image, is that it can potentially free you from your body for a few brief moments," she says. "By clearing the mind and releasing feelings of anxiety, including critical thoughts about your body and yourself, you can enjoy the freedom and joy of simply letting go."

What a wonderful way to have a vacation from your body. An additional side benefit is that you often end up with more of a connection to your core self.

How might a newbie go about meditating? "Find a quiet and comfortable space in your home where you won’t be disturbed," suggests Elisa. "Select a time during your day that works for you. I prefer the evening, when my family is asleep. Try meditating for five minutes. Focus on your breathing and expand from there."

And, adds Elisa, practice pays off. "Like the acquisition of other skills, the more you practice, the greater the benefit you might experience," she says. "Over time, your capacity to enjoy a sense of balance and harmony between and within your body, mind, and spirit could increase."

Elisa's comments are worth pondering. How paradoxical that letting go of our thoughts and ideas, even for short periods of time, allows us to return to our bodies with greater appreciation for them and an increased sense of calm and well-being.

Lately, I've added a few minutes of focused meditation at the end of my morning routine. I guess I'm ready to add a spiritual workout to my physical workout. What about you?