Filling Up Our Emptiness: Why We Overeat & How Meditation Fixes It
Depression: Filling Our Empty Lives With Food
Why We Turn To Food
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." — Henry David Thoreau
For many of us, our dead end jobs, unhealthy relationships, and never-ending responsibilities make us feel like prisoners.
With not much to look forward to, we fill our emptiness, unhappiness, and loneliness with food.
"I hate my life, let’s eat to make it better… Day after day of meaningless work, my only source of enjoyment is Netflix and food… With nobody to love in this cold world, this freshly baked pan of brownies will warm me right up…"
The chicken or the egg, whether our depression caused our weight gain or vice versa, there is a very powerful solution. It’s called meditation.
Here are four ways meditation dominates depression into submission:
#1: How Meditation Beats Depression: Feel Good Neurotransmitters
Between our ridiculously complex brain’s 100 billion neurons are an internet-like group of information communicators known as "neurotransmitters."
For those of us who fill up when feeling down, serotonin and norepinephrine are the two most important pick-me-up neurotransmitters.
If the names sound familiar to you, it’s because anti-depressants usually target one or both of these chemicals (and not that well, according to recent research).
Moreover, as many as 25 percent of folks taking antidepressants gain weight. And sometimes, lots of weight, up to 100 pounds, according to Dr. Andrew Weil.
While the reasons for this phenomenon vary from carb cravings to slowed metabolism, what's crystal clear is that finding a NATURAL way to boost these two pleasure chemicals carries zero side effects.
Then, how do we naturally uncap our happy juice fire hydrant? Meditation.
A slew of studies have shown that the ancient mind practice boosts our serotonin and norepinephrine to levels that punch depression right in the mouth.
By naturally flooding our brain with these two wonderful pleasure chemicals, meditation keeps us feeling great all the time without needing food as a pick-me-up.
#2: How Meditation Beats Depression: Bulletproof Hippocampus
While depression's bluesy effect on mood is well known, it actually does way worse stuff to our noggin.
Specifically, this debilitating disease can shrink certain parts of the brain, with our "memory center" hippocampus taking a great deal of the brunt.
When a basketball player wants to improve his vertical leap, he does calf raises, squats, and box jumps to strengthen his legs.
When we want to make our brain impenetrable to depression, we need to strengthen our hippocampus.
"But there isn't a hippocampus machine at my 24 Hour Fitness!"
Save yourself a trip to the gym. Meditation is your hippocampus machine.
Among many studies showing the same result, University of Geissen (Germany) neuroscientists found that meditation builds up a big and strong hippocampus, with the effect magnified by experience.
What does this mean? The more we meditate, the more bulletproof we make our brain to depression.
For calm, happy, and focused brains, the thought of using food to numb how we feel doesn't compute.
#3: How Meditation Beats Depression: Feeling Lonely, Disconnected
While an in-person social network (not Facebook) and a loving family is the best cure for loneliness, very few of us these days are so lucky.
In 2002, Dr. Andrew Newburg, a University of Pennsylvania neuroscientist, took brain images of Tibetan monks during meditation.
Among his long list of findings, the doctor discovered that meditation cooled off the very brain region that gets overheated when we feel disconnected, isolated, and lonely — the time and space oriented "parietal lobe."
While meditators have claimed for centuries that the powerful practice makes them feel "at one with everything," this might be the first time scientists have been able to measure this high level of consciousness in the lab.
Instead of emptiness and loneliness, meditation entangles us back into the quantum, making us feel connected to everyone and everything. When this happens, we can annul our unhealthy marriage with food.
#4: How Meditation Beats Depression: Unfulfillment
In our modern material focused world, we mindlessly pursue things which, in the end, leave us feeling empty and incomplete.
"If I had more money then I would finally be happy… Once we get that four bedroom house all will be well forever and ever, amen… A nice car will totally solve all of my problems… Landing that job will make me whole and complete..."
Once we realize that achieving / acquiring this or that life changing "thing" only left us feeling the same emptiness as before, then we seek out the next thing. And the next thing. And so on. Rinse and repeat.
With material possessions, status, and wealth topping the list, a life of grasping at thin air can quickly exhaust our mental and emotional reserves.
Once we realize that we are fighting an unwinnable battle, we become weary, we disconnect, we become disinterested in everything, and we raise the white flag.
With a life spiraling out of control, addiction can be a powerful crutch. For some of us, we turn to alcohol, pills, drugs, or gambling. For others, it’s food. Pick your poison.
Scarcity Mindset → Abundance Mindset: Luckily, there is a solution. From a cliff high above the valley, meditation allows us to see the big picture.
From this higher vantage point we become quickly aware that our "I don’t have enough" scarcity mindset gets us nowhere fast.
When our mind is relaxed, centered, and balanced, we realize that feeling whole and complete is an inner journey accomplished with inner journey tools — with meditation as the ultimate all-in-one inner-journey toolkit.
Reset your mind. Reset your body. Discover meditation.