Acceptance and Compassion Meditation

To begin this meditation, sit comfortably in a chair or in a formal meditation position. Begin by establishing an amount of time you wish to practice this meditation. If you are new to meditation, consider starting with five minutes and build over time to a longer 20- or 30-minute meditation. When starting to meditate, create a clear intention to practice self-compassion or to work on body acceptance. This intention will help ground you if you become distracted by thoughts and emotions while you meditate.

1. Take five deep breaths to start the meditation. These breaths will help you center yourself and begin to calm your thoughts. After your five deep breaths, imagine you are safe, as you continue your meditation.

2. Breathe in and connect with your desire for body acceptance. Keep breathing in and out slowly, calmly. If you find this hard to do, reconnect with your intention to practice self-compassion. Acknowledge the courage it takes to sit across from your inner critic. If you are afraid or emotional, acknowledge that the mind imagines your inner critic will say hurtful and painful words. You may recall verbal darts from your past that sounded like, “you’re so disgusting,” “your body is gross,” and so on. If this happens, reconnect to the present moment by breathing in and out slowly.

3. Renew your desire to accept your body just the way it is, despite the verbal or mental darts the inner critic might throw at you. When you accept your body as it is, not as you want it to be, you are practicing acceptance and self-compassion.

4. If it is helpful, repeat a phase that is supportive, such as “I am learning to listen to my body.” or “I am learning to accept my body.”

5. Remain in the present moment, breathing in and out. With each breath, feel the air fill your body, then feel the air slowly release. You are in the present moment.

6. End the meditation by taking five deep breaths to calm your body and mind. Acknowledge the effort that this has taken by saying “I acknowledge the effort that I have made.” Open your heart to the reality that you are not alone and that many people are suffering with accepting their bodies by saying, “May this effort benefit myself and all the other people who are struggling to listen and compassionately accept their bodies.”

 

Source: thecenterformindfuleating.org

Embracing a Healthy Body Image

self-imageYou’ve gone from a size 24 down to a size 6, everyone comments about how great you look and how much weight you’ve lost, but when you look in the mirror you see the same person you’ve always seen (that size 24 person!). You pick out clothes that are too large, you worry you won’t be able to fit in that movie theater seat and you feel like you’re still too big to fit in the booth at a restaurant.  It’s clear to everyone that you’re losing weight and you know you are losing it, but when you look at your reflection you just can’t see it. Why does this happen?

We’re going to summarize the information below, but if you want the full story, you can read about it at http://www.nbcnews.com/id/31489881/ns/health-womens_health/t/phantom-fat-can-linger-after-weight-loss/.  It seems that this happens to a lot of people after significant weight loss. It’s an interesting phenomenon where your brain basically has not caught up with the new, leaner body. Body image is much more difficult to change than physical body size. There may also be an underlying fear of gaining the weight back, so it can be more difficult to embrace a new body image if you feel like it won’t last long.

The studies discussed showed that women who experience significant weight loss may experience improvements in body image, but not necessarily as much as someone who was never overweight. In general, those that have lost a significant amount of weight are more preoccupied with weight and appearance after weight loss than those of the same size that never struggled with being overweight. It’s a fear of getting back to that former larger size that causes the preoccupation.

It’s also not uncommon to experience somewhat of a letdown because even after having lost the weight, you realize that you’re still not perfect. You may have some excess skin or you didn’t lose the weight in the exact places you had hoped to. Many people have a very “all or nothing” mindset when it comes to weight and size. This means you either look like a perfect swimsuit model when you reach your ideal weight or it’s just not good enough. This is unrealistic, though. The good news is that nobody is perfect, so you’re not alone! Even those swimsuit models have their pictures airbrushed to make them look better!

Some people will adjust to the weight loss more quickly than others. If you’re struggling to see yourself as the size you really are and it causes you any significant stress or depression, the best thing might be to seek out counseling to help re-train your brain to see your new body the way it really is. And remember, it’s not all about how your body looks. Be sure to constantly remind yourself how much healthier you are now and how much better you feel today compared to before you had your surgery.