The Meditation DietThe Subconscious Mind: Ingredients for Success
Welcome to the Meditation Diet, and congratulations on taking the first, and most important, step toward your goal of achieving a healthy and sustainable body weight.
Throughout this process, you will be grooming your subconscious mind to accept and incorporate the suggestions it receives during meditation. Our three-step method is simple: Motivation, Belief, and Expectation. First, you will develop the mindset necessary to maintain a high level of motivation. Next, you will cultivate the deep belief within yourself that your goal can be reached. Finally, you will create accountability through the personal expectation you place upon yourself to complete this journey.
When you undertake mindful eating, you’re doing more than changing your eating habits. You’re getting a handle on your mental energy and guiding it toward a healthy, desirable end. Like a lens focuses sunlight to create fire, the mindfulness diet allows you to harness your mental energy and focus it on the goal of achieving your ideal healthy and sustainable weight.
You may be having trouble fully accepting the notion that your goal can be reached. After all, losing weight requires more hard work and dedication than perhaps anything you have ever attempted before. However, the power of positivity is all that you need to clear any hurdle that you may face. The connection between mind and body is extraordinary. By telling yourself over and over that you can reach your goals, you will begin to make that belief permanent in your consciousness, and eventually you will notice your body following your mind’s lead. No longer will you be held back by the limiting belief of “I can’t.” Instead, you will be propelled forward by the belief of “I know I WILL!”
The Mind-Body Connection
The Mind/Body Connection
Your conscious and sub conscious minds are in constant communication. Try an experiment: move your finger. Easy, right? You might say, “That was a conscious effort.”
But what happens on the subconscious level? What about the blood that flowed to the muscles in your finger, allowing it to move? Did you consciously cause your heart to beat, thus sending the blood to the finger? No. It was a joint effort between your conscious and subconscious minds.
As you can see, your conscious mind can have a tremendous impact on your body. Another experiment: think of a time when you were embarrassed. Maybe you feel heat in your cheeks. If you look in a mirror, you might see your face turning red. Your heart rate might increase. These physiological effects are the result of you using your conscious mind to create physical effects. Your thoughts can influence your body; likewise, your body can influence your thoughts. For example, when you feel tightness in your stomach, you might start thinking about food. When you feel dryness in your mouth, you might look for water. Those are two common examples of your body influencing your mind.
The whole body is interconnected – physiological components, conscious mind, and subconscious mind. Once you’re willing to accept that your goal can be achieved, you’re motivated to do so, and you’re expecting success. Then you can give shape and form to your goal. Once you’ve harnessed the power of your conscious mind, both your subconscious mind, and your body, will accommodate. The key to mastery of the conscious mind is mindfulness: master mindfulness, master yourself.
Identify Routines & Rewards
Mindfulness: The Conscious Mind
Mindfulness meditation is a state in which you become consciously aware of your surroundings. You choose which stimuli are important, and which to exclude. Doing so helps to reprogram your subconscious mind.
Furthermore, mindfulness allows you to become aware not only of your surroundings, but your subconscious mind and physiological state as well. Suppose you’ve attempted dieting in the past. You probably experienced repeated failures because there is a certain unhealthy food you find irresistible. Attempting to consciously avoid that food is an exercise in futility because somewhere down the line, your subconscious mind learned that it filled a need. Now the need is gone and instead of filling a need, the food undermines your diet. Mindfulness might provide insight into why that food became so irresistible in the first place. Once you are aware of why it has such power over you, it loses its power. You have effectively reprogrammed your subconscious mind and will likely enjoy better results while dieting.
This is the Meditation Diet: you’re creating a goal, communicating to your subconscious mind that you wish to make this goal a reality, and then following through on your attention, eliminating barriers that may be inhibiting you from reaching your goal.
The Power of Self-Talk
The human mind is divided into two components working in tandem to help you conduct your daily business. The first is the conscious mind. This component is the one over which you have the most conspicuous control. You might see a pencil on the table and make the decision to pick it up – that’s your conscious mind working. This is the mind with which you make decisions.
The goal of a mindfulness meditation session is not to inhibit the conscious mind, or detach it from the world around you. The goal of a mindfulness meditation session is to become aware of your surroundings from a dispassionate state. You become aware of a clock ticking in the background, a bird chirping in a tree, a truck passing on the street, but you simply allow them to be, without your interference. You treat thoughts and emotions the same way. You might think about how you need to set up a hair appointment, or bring your car in for a tune-up, or clean the kitchen. Rather than blindly following these impulses as they arise, you simply acknowledge them and let them pass. Rather than fret, you notice. Rather than act, you observe. Be to your thoughts the way you are to vehicles as you stand on the side of the road: you watch them pass, hear them, see them – but you don’t chase them, nor do you stand in front of them. They come. They go.
Mindfulness: The Subconscious Mind
The second component to the human mind is the subconscious mind. The prefix ‘sub’ implies “beneath” (like how a submarine is beneath the water). This is because the subconscious mind operates beneath your awareness. The subconscious mind regulates heart rate, breathing, blood flow – all of the things that have to occur but can’t be trusted to the conscious mind, because the conscious mind might forget – and the last thing you want to do is forget to keep your heart beating!
Your subconscious mind is also host to a great deal of wisdom. Your instincts are found in your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind tells you when something is scary or pleasing; it acts as a sort of adviser to your conscious mind. When faced with a threatening situation, your subconscious mind says, “Look out! There’s danger here!”
If you tell your subconscious mind what you want, it will make suggestions to you on how to accomplish that end. This is where mindfulness comes in. With mindfulness, you are communicating your intentions to your subconscious mind, thus “reprogramming” it to advise you on how to make your wishes come true.
With the mindfulness diet, you want to picture yourself trying on clothes at your ideal size. You want to picture yourself in front of a mirror, amazed at how good you look. Once your subconscious mind gets the hint, it will start guiding you toward that ideal situation.
However, your subconscious mind does not provide its advice willy-nilly. It’s in charge of cardiovascular maintenance, breathing, blood flow – it’s quite busy. While it’s always willing to lend an ear, you have to approach it seriously if you want results. If you approach your subconscious mind with the attitude “this will never work,” then your subconscious mind will respond with, “Then stop wasting my time.” If you have an unclear goal, your subconscious mind will not know what you’re trying to accomplish, and will help you do just that – accomplish nothing! So how do you approach your subconscious mind, and maximize the likelihood of success?
Entering A Mindful State
The Subconscious Mind: Ingredients for Success
“I CAN’T BECAUSE OF MY PAST.”
There is a prevailing belief that what you have done in your past (or what has been done to you) has an impact on your present. To an extent, this is true. When you were a child, perhaps you put your hand on a hot stove and learned that excessive heat creates an unpleasant response. This is your subconscious mind doing its job.
Where this falls flat is when people cite conscious decisions made in the past as reasons that new decisions cannot be made in the present. First and foremost, there is no such thing as the past. There are only memories, and memories are viewed in the present. Similarly, there is no future; there are only dreams, and dreams are also viewed in the present. There is absolutely no such thing as the past or present; there is only the eternal NOW.
So when someone says “I can’t because I learned it a different way,” what they’re really saying is “I can’t because I don’t want to try.” For example, say someone wants to throw a ball left-handed, but they learned to throw right-handed. They might say “I can’t throw a ball left-handed.” This is utterly false. All they need to do is pick up a ball with their left hand and throw it. With practice, they can become as skilled at throwing a ball left-handed, as they are at throwing it right-handed.
Similarly, they might say, “I could never learn how to play the guitar.” This is also utterly wrong. They simply need to pick up a guitar, put their fingers on a few frets, and play a chord. They think that because they haven’t learned it yet, they cannot learn it now. This is completely wrong, and absolutely limiting. What’s actually happening is that they, here in the present, are using a non-existent past as an excuse to take the easy route, inaction, rather than improve their circumstances.
There is no past. Your subconscious mind instructs you in the present. You make conscious decisions in the here and now. With belief, motivation, and expectation, your ideal present will become your actual present.
Building New Habits
Now that you realize that you are completely in the present – that there is no past, and there is no future – you want to picture your ideal present as though it has already happened. The way to do this is to picture your idealized self.
What are your eating habits? Once you’ve recognized those habits, act on them. If your ideal self – the self that has already accomplished the goal of achieving your ideal weight – eats eggs and orange juice for breakfast, eat eggs and orange juice for breakfast. If your ideal self eats pasta and broccoli for dinner, start eating pasta and broccoli for dinner.
Do this consistently. Every day, ask yourself: what does my ideal self eat for breakfast? For lunch? For dinner? Once you’ve established the answers to these questions, make the meal and eat it. Do this day after day after day. Eventually you’ll find that eating healthy is the new norm, and eating unhealthy is actually harder to do than eating healthy.
Set Smart Goals
There are three critical components to creating goals:
1. Specificity – One common mistake people make when setting goals being too vague. “I want to be healthy” is not a specific goal. How do you measure healthiness? How do you know if you’ve succeeded? That’s like getting into a car and saying, “I want to go somewhere.” If that’s your destination, why leave the driveway? You’re already somewhere!
A better goal might be “I want to be able to run a mile and a half in twenty minutes.” That is a specific goal. If you run a mile and a half and it takes you twenty-five minutes, you know you have more work to do. If you run a mile and a half in nineteen minutes, you know you’ve created good, solid habits that you’ll want to maintain.
In order to reach this goal, you’ll have to adjust your diet, work out more, and drink more water. One side effect of wanting to run a mile and a half in twenty minutes: you’ll be healthier!
2. Reasonability – Building on the above: your goals need to be reasonable. “I want to run a mile in one minute” is unrealistic. Nobody can run a mile in one minute. If your subconscious mind takes an unreasonable goal seriously, you’re going to end up doing more harm than good, namely because you’ll fail day after day.
3. Incrementalism – Break your goals into increments. If you’ve been sitting on the couch for the last ten years eating potato chips, drinking beer, and smoking cigarettes, the odds of you running a mile and a half in twenty minutes are slim. You’ll either collapse from exhaustion or experience a stroke. It may take a few weeks.
This is where it is necessary to break goals into bite-sized increments. If your goal is to run a mile and a half in twenty minutes, you might break it down:
- Walk a mile and a half in an hour
- Walk a mile and a half in twenty minutes
- Run a mile and a half in an hour
- Run a mile and a half in twenty minutes
Completing goals causes the release of dopamine, the body’s natural feel-good chemical, into the brain. This chemical rush serves as motivation for you to complete the next goal. So when you complete the first goal above – walking a mile and a half in an hour – the dopamine rush you get from doing so will motivate you to complete the second one. Establish specific, measurable goals. Make them reasonable. Break them into reasonable increments. Do so, and you will succeed.
Accomplishing Your Goals
Eating is one way that human beings often choose to deal with stress. If something is “eating them,” they might react by gorging themselves on food. One way to counteract this is to conduct mindfulness meditation daily. By recognizing stress and choosing to let it pass, you are less likely to identify with it when its time for dinner.
You’ll also want to practice mindfulness eating. Mindfulness eating is the act of consciously slowing down the eating process. Instead of shoveling food into your mouth because it feels good, you’re instead intentionally meditating on each bite.
When you eat, engage all five of your senses. How does the food smell? How does it sound while it’s cooking? How does it feel on your tongue? How does it look? And of course, how does it taste? Take the time to chew food thoroughly. The food should almost slide down your throat with little conscious intention. This happens once you’ve chewed it enough. It feels unusual the first few times. Instead of swallowing, the food will “seep” naturally down your throat. Chewing thoroughly will also assist in digestive functions, and it will help your body communicate to you exactly what it needs.
Intention is the key to everything. Make enough food so you know your hunger will be sated at the end of the meal. However, when serving yourself, serve moderate portions. This communicates to your subconscious mind that you intend to eat a reasonable amount. You can always go back for more. This is far better than piling food on your plate, which communicates to your subconscious mind, “I intend to eat way too much.” Tell your subconscious mind your intentions and your subconscious mind will make it so.
Slowing down will also help you to stop eating when you have had enough. From the time you start eating, it takes the brain roughly 20 minutes to communicate to you that you’re full. That means if you’re stuffing food down your throat for those 20 minutes, you’re going to have eaten more before that 20-minute marker than you would have if you’d taken your time. In short, you’ll have the same sensation of fullness, but you will have eaten less.
Breathe between bites. Many people hunch over their plates, shoveling food into their mouths, barely taking the time to breathe between mouthfuls. Sit back, chew your food, and take the time to catch your breath between bites. Enjoy the meal.
Eat Without Distraction
Eating is commonly viewed as a social activity (or a reason to watch television). Usually when a person eats, there is something else going on in the background. This background noise tends to remove the conscious mind’s focus on the meal and direct it toward the distraction.
Choose to spend at least one meal a day distraction-free. Turn off your cell phone. Step away from your desk. Detach yourself from peers. Shut off the television. Remove all distractions until you are left with two things: you, and your meal.
Doing so will help you to focus on the meal. You’ll be far more aware of how much you’re chewing, whether or not you can taste the food, whether or not you’re breathing – you’ll become more mindful of your meal.
What impact might that have? Do this once a day and you’ll be in the habit of doing it once a day. You will also experience a “bleeding effect,” which means that even during the other meals, when you’re around distractions, you’ll be in the habit of eating mindfully. You may not be as mindful of your food as you are when you’re eating distraction-free, but you will be more mindful than you would have been if you ate no meals mindfully.
Some is always better than none.