by Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC

Whether you are new to meditating or a seasoned practitioner, I have summarized a list of commonly asked question that I have received about meditation which you should find useful. If you have questions that are not listed here, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Can you customize a meditation for me?

  • Yes, I can customize a meditation to meet your specific needs. For example, if you are feeling stuck and need help moving forward, I can create a guided meditation for your particular situation so you may continue to progress in your personal development goals.

How do I know if I am progressing?

  • You know you are progressing if there are behaviors in your life that have changed in a positive way due to meditating. For example, if one of your goals is to develop stronger will power, you may find that you are able to stand up for yourself in situations where you could not before.  

Where is the best place to meditate in my house?

  • If you are meditating at home, I recommend that you designate a room specifically for meditation. The space should be quiet, clean, and uncluttered with minimal distractions. Over time, the ambiance of your meditation room will feel peaceful and become a positive reinforcement for your practice.   

Is it okay if I fall asleep while meditating?

  • There might be times when you fall asleep while meditating. Occasionally, this is okay as your body is needing rest at that moment. However, the goal of meditation is not to fall asleep but to remain in a calm focus. In this relaxed but alert state, your conscious mind and subconscious mind are forming a bridge which allows important information to enter your awareness. You may get a sudden insight to a long standing issue you’ve been facing, and you need to be awake in order to process it.    

Can you meditate while walking?

  • A walking meditation can be done and is pleasant to do. When you are walking, the goal is to simply be in-the-moment, observing your surroundings and enjoying the scenery without making a judgement or forming emotional attachments to what you are experiencing. This is the art of mindfulness. You are being an unconditional observer within your environment, whether it be listening to the birds chirping, noticing the scent of a flower, or feeling a gentle breeze upon your skin.

Can meditation be used to help study for an exam?

  • Meditation can help a person concentrate better and have more mental focus. Studies have shown that people who meditate on a regular basis have unique brainwave patterns which are dominated by the Alpha and Theta frequencies. Alpha and Theta brainwave frequencies are associated with the ability to maintain a calm focus which is ideal when you want to study for an exam.  For more information about brainwave entrainment, you can read my blog here.   

Can meditation help with weight loss?

  • Yes, meditation is a great tool for weight loss because it helps the body decrease the cortisol levels in our body, minimizing your desire to binge and overeat. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when we are under stress. It plays a beneficial role in regulating our metabolism, but when we experience chronic stress, our cortisol levels become too high which is a significant factor in weight gain. Please read my blog, How Meditation Helps with Weight Loss, for more information on this topic.   

Do you have to breathe “in-through-your-nose” and “out-through-your-mouth” for meditation to be beneficial?

  • Focusing on your breath will help to keep your mind from wandering. It is not necessary to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth to obtain this benefit. You can certainly breathe this way if it is more helpful for you, but the key is AWARENESS. Becoming aware of your breathing helps to cultivate a single-minded focus which helps to keep distracting thoughts from entering your consciousness.    

Is it better to meditate in the morning or night?

  • You can meditate in the morning or night depending upon your preference. I personally prefer the morning as I am more awake and rested, and I am creating a positive tone for the rest of my day. Some people prefer meditating before bedtime as it helps them to sleep better. It is a matter of choice depending upon what you would like to accomplish with your meditation.   

How do you handle distracting thoughts that run through your mind?

  • Having thoughts arise in the mind is a common occurrence while meditating. When you notice that your mind is being distracted by unwanted thoughts, bring your attention back to your breath. Keep focusing on your breath with each inhale and exhale. It is a good practice to simply observe your thoughts without judging or becoming attached to them. Just allow them to be and flow through you. With consistent meditation practice, you will notice that your mental chatter quiets down and becomes less and less of an influence.    

Can I use meditation to help reach my goals?

  • Yes, during your meditations you can visualize what you would like to manifest. The technique of visualization is based on the Law of Attraction which means that we attract and manifest what we consistently focus upon. This is a proactive form of meditation. I recommend reading this well written article by the Chopra Center, How to Use Meditation to Visualize Your Goals, for more information.

What are the benefits of meditation?

  • Better Coping Skills – When you meditate on a regular basis, you are better able to cope with the anxiety of everyday living and remain calmer during stressful situations. The ability to handle your emotional responses to daily stressors is improved.
  • More Self Awareness – You will be able to recognize and stop negative thought patterns that are sabotaging your personal growth before they get out-of-control.   
  • Keener Intuition – Intuitive insights are able to come forth during your waking consciousness much more easily and guide you towards wiser decisions.    
  • More Joy – You will naturally experience more joy in your life because meditation opens your heart and aligns you with your true, authentic self. When you open your heart, you are touching the core essence of your being which is imbued with love, appreciation, kindness, and gratitude.       

Interested in learning more?

 

 

Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC  is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Nutritionist, Reiki Master, Meditation Instructor, and published author. She is the owner of Inspire Your Journey and a Wellness Partner with Amare Global, the Mental Wellness Company. She is available for appointments at the SheBreathes Balance & Wellness Studio in Walpole, MA. 

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.

To learn more about brainwave entrainment, please read my blog Using Brainwave Entrainment To Conquer Addiction.

  • 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.

Beta Waves: Normal waking consciousness.

Dopamine: The euphoria-producing brain chemical.

Interested in learning more?

 

 

Susan Kapatoes, MHA, CPC  is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Nutritionist, Reiki Master, Meditation Instructor, and published author. She is the owner of Inspire Your Journey and a Wellness Partner with Amare Global, the Mental Wellness Company. She is available for appointments at the SheBreathes Balance & Wellness Studio in Walpole, MA. 

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/