by Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC

It has been proven that meditation helps you lose weight, but how?

By regulating our cortisol levels, nourishing a balanced state of consciousness, and promoting a healthy state of mind, meditation is a powerful tool to help you shed those unwanted pounds.

Meditation helps to Regulate Cortisol

Cortisol is an important hormone released by the adrenal glands. It helps to regulate the body’s metabolism, especially when we are under stressful situations. Levels of cortisol rise during tension-filled times which is a natural part of our body’s “fight-or-flight” response to stress. It prepares the body by flooding it with glucose (blood sugar) and inhibiting insulin secretion, thereby preventing the glucose from being stored and making it available for immediate use by the body. After the stressful situation subsides, hormone levels return to normal.

However, when we are experiencing chronic stress, this can lead to chronic excess levels of cortisol which can cause weight gain. High levels of cortisol are known to promote storage of fat within visceral fat cells, those located under the muscle and deep in the abdomen. Chronically high levels of cortisol result in consistently high levels of blood sugar (along with insulin suppression) which leads to cells that are starved of glucose and crying out for energy. This scenario sends hunger signals to the brain which can cause overeating and any unused glucose is eventually stored as fat.

In a 2013 study conducted by the University of California, Davis (Saron et al), researchers found that mindfulness meditation had cut cortisol levels by more than half. Another study conducted in Thailand (Turakitwanakan et al) concurred that mindfulness meditation lowers the cortisol levels in the blood suggesting that it can lower stress and may decrease the risk of diseases that arise from stress such as psychiatric disorder, peptic ulcer and migraine.

Meditation helps to decrease Binge Eating

For many people going through emotional challenges such as depression, loneliness, or boredom, they often turn to food to help appease the emotional emptiness they are feeling inside. Comfort foods such as sweets, cakes, and pastries might make us feel ‘good’ for a couple of hours, but when the sugar crash hits, the desire to eat more sugary foods increases, and the vicious craving cycle begins. Meanwhile, the food has done nothing to truly mitigate the emotional distress that triggered the binge eating in the first place.

This is where meditation comes into play as it helps to soothe the stress and anxiety that is associated with our emotional roller coaster rides. Regular meditation practice increases our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) which means that we remain calmer during stressful situations. We can better cope with the demands of our daily life and not get frazzled so easily. We can remain more even keeled during the taxing times, nurturing a balanced state of consciousness throughout the day. When we feel centered and more grounded with our emotions, we make better decisions and are less likely to react with the same binge eating impulse that we did before.

Meditation helps to Combat Food Addiction

The common traits of people with addictive behavior patterns (food, alcohol, drugs, tobacco) include: (1) lack of GABA, (2) beta waves dominate, and (3) dopamine levels rise and crash. The common traits of people who meditate on a regular basis, especially when combined with brainwave entrainment, include: (1) optimal levels of GABA, (2) alpha & theta waves dominate, and (3) dopamine levels increase but remain steady.

When there are optimal levels of GABA and our dopamine levels remain steady, the cravings for sugary food and the tendency to overeat will naturally diminish. Luckily, the science of brainwave entrainment can be used as tool to help steady our levels of GABA and dopamine.

  • Common Traits of People with Addictive Behavior Patterns
  • Lack of GABA
  • Beta Waves dominate
  • Dopamine levels rise and crash
  • Common Traits of People who Meditate on a Consistent Basis
  • Optimal levels of GABA
  • Alpha & Theta Waves dominate
  • Dopamine levels increase but remain steady

GABA: The calm brain chemical; reduces nerve cell excitability throughout the central nervous system. GABA is taken by mouth to relieve anxiety, improve mood, reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Beta Waves: Normal waking consciousness.

Dopamine: The euphoria-producing brain chemical.

Educate Yourself

If you are interested in learning more about meditation and how it can help you to reach your weight loss goals, please CONTACT ME for a Free Consultation at 508-282-7877 or email: susan@inspireyourjourney.com

References:

Aronson, Dina. “Cortisol – Its Role in Stress, Inflammation, and Indications for Diet Therapy.” Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 11 No. 11 P. 38, Nov. 2009, www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml

EOC Institute – Why Mindfulness Meditation Is Such A Powerful Weight Loss Tool (2018). Retrieved from https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/4-ways-meditation-is-the-weight-loss-key-healthy-mind-healthy-body/

Kjaer TW, e. (2002). Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. PubMed.  NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11958969

Turakitwanakan W, e. (2013). Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students. J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Jan;96 Suppl 1: S90-5. PubMed. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2372446

Saron, e. (2013). Mindfulness from meditation associated with lower stress hormone. Retrieved from https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/mindfulness-meditation-associated-lower-stress-hormone/

 

 

by Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC  


What are brainwaves? 

In the early 1900’s, it was discovered that our brain emits pulses of electrical signals that form distinctive patterns called brainwaves. The four primary brainwaves are Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta arranged from fastest to slowest frequency. Brainwave speed is measured in Hertz (cycles per second).

Each type of brainwave has unique benefits that are associated with specific states of consciousness. Our thoughts, moods, emotions, and biological chemistry are all impacted by our brainwaves which change according to what we’re doing and feeling.

Since most of us spend our days in the Beta state which reflects our normal waking consciousness, I will be focusing on the Alpha, Theta, and Delta frequencies and how we can incorporate the benefits of these brainwaves into our daily lives.

When are these waves present?

When slower brainwaves are overly dominant, we may feel groggy, sluggish, dreamy or tired; when faster brainwaves are overly dominant, we can feel hyper-alert and focused. Multiple brain waves may occur at the same time, but there is typically one brainwave that is dominant at any given time.

  • Alpha (7-13 Hz) – when you are in a relaxed state of mind; fully present in the moment. You are aware of your surroundings with a calm but alert focus.
  • Theta (4-7 Hz) – on the threshold of sleep, upon waking up from sleep, or deep meditation. You are aware of your surroundings in a trance-like focus.
  • Delta (0-4 Hz) – deep sleep, unconscious and subconscious realm.

What is Brainwave Entrainment?

Brainwave entrainment is a method that can be utilized to help you reap the benefits that each type of brainwave has to offer. It is a process of stimulating the brain into a specific state by using a pulsing sound, light, or electromagnetic field. The pulses elicit the brain’s ‘frequency following’ response, encouraging the brainwaves to align to the frequency of the given beat. This is called Brainwave Entrainment. I will be focusing on audio brainwave entrainment which uses sound, i.e. music, to deliver these frequencies.

How does Brainwave Entrainment Music work?

Audio brainwave entrainment works in two ways. The first method is delivering music incorporated with binaural beats. For this type, you need headphones because the left and right ears need to receive two separate frequencies for the brain to perceive the third frequency. Let’s say we feed 400 Hz into one ear and 404 Hz into the other. The brain then perceives a third frequency at the mathematical difference between the two, which is 4 Hertz. The brain then follows along at this frequency and is entrained. This is known as the frequency response process. Binaural beats have a rhythmic and hypnotic sound-like quality, which is well suited for Meditation and Reiki sessions.

The second is isotones. Isochronic tones differ from binaural beats in that they use a single tone, not two. Because they use a single pulsating tone to penetrate the left and right hemispheres of the brain, they do not require headphones. Isochronic tones have a sharp, pulsating sound quality.

How You Can Use Brainwave Music

There are two ways that you can listen to music embedded with specific brainwave frequencies in order to benefit from their qualities: with headphones or without headphones. Which is better?  

  1. With Headphones – In order to obtain the maximum benefit from your sound tones, you need to listen to the brainwave music with headphones as the binaural audio layer of the technology needs stereo headphones in order to work correctly. For those of you who are serious about healing yourselves and have committed to making lasting changes to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, I recommend using this method and contacting me for a free Health Coaching Consultation to find out more information about brainwave entrainment.
  2. Without Headphones – Listening to brainwave entrainment music without headphones still brings you the benefits of relaxation as the ambient background music has a calming effect on your entire nervous system. The isochronic audio layer of the technology does not require headphones and can work with regular open-air speakers. This method can be used by anyone who is curious about brainwave entrainment or as an introduction to the sound quality of the music. It can be used as an ongoing support system for both novices and seasoned clients.    

Overall Benefits

Relaxation – There are benefits that you will consistently feel from all three brainwaves (alpha, theta, delta) which include a soothing calmness and relaxation, leaving you with a feeling of greater inner peace and tranquility. They will help you cope with everyday anxiety more efficiently by helping you to stay more calm during stressful situations. This ability to handle our emotions more intelligently is a reflection of our state of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  

Whole Brain Synchronization – In addition to increasing our Emotional Intelligence, meditation has been proven to strengthen the link between our two brain hemispheres, according to a NeuroImage study. The right and left hemispheres of our brain communicate via neural pathways which is known as neural plasticity. We have the ability to develop new neural pathways which means we have the ability to change our behavior patterns and develop healthier habits.      

Healthier HabitsResearch from the University College of London shows that it takes approximately two months to form a new habit. This is why practice makes perfect when it comes to changing behaviors, improving your thought process, or integrating a physical task into your daily routine such as exercise.   

This is why it takes commitment and dedication to rewire our brains so that we can make lasting changes to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The good news is that you can form healthy habits and break unhealthy ones once you’ve made up your mind that you will persevere. Over time, the new behavior will start to happen automatically.   

Specific Benefits

In addition to the overall benefits, the Alpha, Theta, and Delta brainwaves offer specific benefits as they have a direct impact upon our state of consciousness and physiology. As a result, there are certain conditions that these brainwave frequencies have the potential to dissolve, eradicate, or lessen:

Alpha Waves (7-13 Hz)

  • Alpha waves are known to help with concentration, studying, and learning. They help to focus the mind by quieting mental chatter. When we are able to maintain a calm focus, we can think more clearly and make better decisions.
  • Alpha waves can help to dissolve phobias and release fears, especially dysfunctional thought patterns that are sabotaging your personal growth and self-confidence.
  • Studies have shown that Alpha waves can help people to release addictive behavior patterns. See more information below on how brainwave entrainment can help to combat addiction.

Theta Waves (4-7 Hz)

  • Theta waves are known to help combat depression and boost inspiration. They allow intuitive insights to flow to the forefront of our consciousness while in this deep state of calmness, giving us access to our own higher wisdom.
  • Theta waves can help to dissolve phobias and release fears, especially dysfunctional thought patterns that are sabotaging your personal growth and self-confidence.
  • Studies have shown that Theta waves can help people to release addictive behavior patterns. See more information below on how brainwave entrainment can help to combat addiction.

Delta Waves (0-4 Hz)

  • Delta waves are known to help with insomnia as they are present during stages of deep sleep. They offer a refreshing sleep, allowing the body and brain to rest and repair.
  • Delta waves can help us feel younger and combat the effects of anti-aging as we release the most Human Growth Hormone (HGH) when Delta waves are present.
  • Delta waves can help us to restore our immune system and make it stronger. These waves offer deep healing to the human body and a sense of renewal.

When To Use these Brainwaves

ALPHA  – Use Alpha brainwaves when you want to study for exams, focus at work, be more present, increase your creativity and problem solving skills, release fears/phobias/addictions.

THETA  – Use Theta brainwaves when you want to feel inspired, combat depression, strengthen your intuition, increase your creativity and problem solving skills, release fears/phobias/addictions.

DELTA – Use Delta brainwaves when you want to sleep better, have more energy, restore your health, feel younger, rejuvenate your immune system.

ADDICTIONS

A 2005 study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (Scott et al) looked at 121 patients going through an inpatient substance abuse program. Alpha & Theta brainwave entrainment technology was used to put the patients’ brainwave patterns into the Alpha & Theta states. After one year, 77% patients were completely drug free.

  • Common Traits of People with Addictions (alcohol, drugs, tobacco, caffeine, food)
  • Lack of GABA
  • Beta waves dominate
  • Dopamine levels rise & crash
  • Common Traits of People who Meditate (especially with brainwave entrainment music)
  • Optimal Levels of GABA
  • Alpha & Theta waves dominate
  • Dopamine levels increase but remain steady

GABA: The calm brain chemical. Reduces nerve cell excitability throughout the central nervous system.

Beta Waves: Normal waking consciousness.

Dopamine: The euphoria-producing brain chemical.

  

Using Brainwave Entrainment 

Do you suffer from addiction? Are you feeling sluggish due to a lack of motivation? Do you feel tired upon waking from a full night’s sleep? Are you combating bouts of depression? Do you need to study for an exam and have problems concentrating?

Brainwave entrainment technology can help to improve these conditions and more.

If you would like additional information about brainwave entrainment, please CONTACT ME at 508-282-7877 or email: susan@inspireyourjourney.com

 

 

 

References:

EOC Institute – 7 Compelling Reasons Meditation Can Conquer Any Addiction. (2018). Retrieved from https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/7-reasons-meditation-can-naturally-beat-addiction/

EOC Institute – 7 Key Meditation Chemicals: Melatonin, Serotonin, GABA, DHEA, Endorphins. (2018). Retrieved from https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/dhea_gaba_cortisol_hgh_melatonin_serotonin_endorphins/

How long does it take to form a habit?. (2009). University College London. UK Health Behaviour Research Centre. Retrieved from https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/09080401   

Luders, E., Phillips, O., Clark, K., Kurth, F., Toga, A., & Narr, K. (2012). Bridging the hemispheres in meditation: Thicker callosal regions and enhanced fractional anisotropy (FA) in long-term practitioners. Neuroimage, 61(1), 181-187. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.026

 

by Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC

The purpose of this article is to illuminate the symbiotic relationship between nutrition and meditation and why it is important to get these two into proper alignment. The foods that you are eating on a daily basis will influence your ability to think clearly and meditate effectively, so you’ll want to be mindful of your diet as you begin to experience the benefits of meditation which include an increase in calmness, improved mental clarity, and the ability to soothe the stress and anxiety of everyday living.

Before we get into the dietary aspects, I would like to provide a bit of information about myself as I have always been interested in the world of nutrition starting from a very young age. When I was about 7 years old, I used to love to eat cold cereal. As I ate my bowl of Cheerios, I placed several other boxes of cereal in front of me so I could read their nutrition labels as I enjoyed my breakfast.

At this young age, I did not know the meaning of carbohydrates, protein, or fat but I was fascinated with the percentages and intently compared each box against the other. Thus began my interest in the wellness arena. Since those early days of reading cereal labels, I have since earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and continue to be mindful of the foods that I consume on a daily basis.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a self-directed practice for relaxing the body and calming the mind. Most meditative techniques have come to the West from Eastern practices in India, China, and Japan. It has a long history of use for promoting physical relaxation, improving emotional composure, decreasing stress, and enhancing overall health and well-being.

There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common: (1) a quiet location, (2) a comfortable posture, (3) a focus of attention, and (4) a mindful attitude of letting distractions come and go without judging them.

Your Dietary Habits Will Influence Your Mind 

As you begin to meditate, it will be important that you become aware of the foods that you are consuming on a daily basis because the quality of your dietary intake will have an influence upon your meditative experience. Feeding your body a nourishing diet is a key for success because this will give your system a steady stream of energy along with all the vitamins and minerals it needs to obtain optimal health.

If you consistently suffer from blood sugar highs and lows on a day to day basis, you will have greater difficulty getting into the meditative state and holding it there for an extended period of time. Ideally, you want to be able to ‘get into the zone’ as easily as possible and maintain that state of mind as you progress through your session.

If you experience a blood sugar crash mid-way through, your body will pull you away from that meditative state and take you out of the zone. With this being said, here are some health-giving tips that will help to keep your mind in that reflective focus. After reading this blog, you will have a better idea of how to eat right in order to experience the best meditation results.

The Importance of Carbohydrates

Eating the right type of carbohydrates can not only boost your health, they can help you to concentrate and meditate more efficiently. According to the American Diabetes Association, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our body. We also intake energy in the form of protein and fats. For this discussion, we will be spotlighting our attention on carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches, and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. They are called carbohydrates because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbohydrates are important for many functions within our body, including brain performance and blood sugar optimization.

Through research that has been performed over the years, it has been discovered that not all carbohydrates are created equally. Choosing the right kind of carbs to consume in your diet will have a beneficial impact upon your meditative experience.

Carbohydrates:  The Good vs. Bad

In general, there are two types of carbohydrates that we consume in our diet: non-processed (good) and processed (bad). The processed or simple carbs are found in candy, soda and syrups. These foods are made with refined sugars and typically do not have vitamins, minerals or fiber. This is why they are frequently called “empty calories.”

The non-processed or complex carbs are often found in starchy foods such as beans, peas, potatoes, corn, and whole-grain breads and cereal. These carbs get absorbed more slowly into our systems, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels, thereby providing a more sustained energy level.

Processed carbs, on the other hand, cause bursts of energy much more quickly than complex carbs because of the quicker rate at which they are digested and absorbed. The processed carbs can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels causing “sugar highs” which in turn can also cause “sugar lows.”

Common Sources of  Non-Processed Carbs:

  • Whole Grains
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Beans & Legumes
  • Meat, Poultry, Seafood

Common Sources of Processed Carbs:

  • White Bread & Pasta
  • Soda & Syrups
  • Donuts & Pastry
  • Candy & Sweets
  • White Rice

Maintaining Homeostasis

If you eat two donuts and drink a can of soda at the same time, you will experience a temporary boost of energy. This is due to the insulin rapidly taking the sugar from your bloodstream and bringing it into the cells so the sugar can be used as energy. But, as that sugar is removed from the bloodstream, you’ll then suffer from a significant blood glucose crash, which will probably leave you ravenous, irritable, and very unable to concentrate.

The above explanation is a simplified version of how refined sugar is assimilated in your physical body, but it gives you an idea of how simple carbohydrates, such as white sugar, can influence your mood due to the way they are metabolized in the body. This is why it is important that you are not over consuming refined or processed carbohydrates, especially right before you begin a meditation.

It is best to focus on getting primarily unprocessed carbs in your diet, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. These types of carbs will aid the body in maintaining an environment of homeostasis which is defined as the stable state of an organism. Natural, wholesome foods provide a healthy source of fuel for the body, and they also contain a bounty of essential nutrients.

Light Meals Beforehand

There is a reason why meditation teachers and seasoned practitioners recommend waiting 1 to 2 hours after eating a meal to begin a meditation. This general rule has to do with the digestive process. If you try to meditate immediately after eating, you might feel sluggish and struggle to stay awake because the body streams more blood to the digestive system, and the brain releases serotonin that causes drowsiness.

Eating a large, heavy meal before meditating might be the most significant blunder that you could make as you settle into a comfortable position to begin your meditation. You want to make sure that you are feeling content, but not over satiated as this could cause lethargy.  If you are going to eat within 60 minutes of doing your meditation, keep it to small portions that contain around 300 calories which is more like a snack. Fresh fruit, a handful of almonds, or drinking a nutritious smoothie are all healthy choices.

Closing Thoughts

Meditation is part of a collective health and wellness program which includes taking care of your physical body while nourishing a strong mind. By eating right, you can maintain better concentration throughout your meditations.

Consider meditation as exercise for the mind, the same way that a jog or a session of yoga can help to strengthen your body. If you think about what you eat before you meditate the same way that you think about what you eat before you do physical exercise, you will be in good shape.

For overall well-being, it is best to choose wholesome and healthy foods that comprise the majority of your diet. Incorporating meditation into your daily life, even if it is just for five minutes a day, will cultivate centeredness and mental equanimity. By aligning these two elements, proper nutrition and meditation, you will experience a more consistent state of health and balance.