Back to the list


The Importance of Body Awareness and Self-Care in Healing and Weight Loss
Written by Deepak Chopra M.D. author of What Are You Hungry For?

Being aware of your body comes naturally. If something aches, for example, discomfort is an unpleasant signal, and you instinctively want it to go away. But the mind’s response isn’t always so simple.
For many overweight people, negative beliefs have been in place for so long that they barely get noticed. Even so, you can spot them through the damaging thoughts they generate. What kind of mind-body partnership is going on if you have thoughts like the following?

  • My body is ugly and inferior.
  • I’m stuck with this body. There’s nothing I can do about it.
  • No matter how hard I try to lose weight, my body won’t cooperate.
  • I’m so disappointed in my body.
  • It’s just a matter of time before something inside really goes wrong.
  • The best thing is to ignore how my body looks and feels.

Clearly the partnership is in trouble. In my experience, people with a history of weight issues are generally quite detached from the mind-body connection. They certainly aren’t using it to their benefit. A patient came to me named Amanda who at 55 had developed type 2 diabetes after carrying too much weight since she was a teenager.

I was just one in a long string of doctors she was seeing, which is no surprise since diabetes has systemic effects. Her eye doctor told Amanda that her blurry vision was the result of retinal deterioration, which fortunately was mild so far. Other doctors were addressing her fatigue, mood swings, over sensitivity to medications, erratic blood sugar, and lower back pain (this last not related to her diabetes).

Amanda is a stoic and forthright woman. She trudges from doctor to doctor determined to fix these symptoms. The first thing she told me was “I consider myself a healer. I do body work but it’s very holistic. My clients tell me I’ve changed their lives.”
“And you wonder why you can’t change yours,” I interjected. She nodded.

I asked Amanda what she was doing for herself, and she rattled off an impressive list. She went to a wide array of alternative therapists. She took supplements and was extremely concerned with avoiding processed foods. She did a cleanse once a month. All of these steps were pro-active but there was a catch.

“I like the things you’re doing,” I said. “But how do you feel?” to me, she looked worried and tense.

“I’m frazzled,” Amanda admitted. “I hate all these doctor visits. I just want these problems to go away”

“I get the idea that all this worry has made you eat more,” I said. She had gained ten pounds in the two months since our last appointment. Amanda nodded, looking distressed. Amanda’s body told her she was in trouble, but her answer to added stress was more food. So her body was no longer in partnership with her, and she needed to change that. There was lots of melodrama, too, along with the medical concerns.

“You care about the whole situation,” I pointed out. “But you are caring in a negative way. Your body has gone so far out of balance that it’s sending up distress flares. You have to get your body’s distress down, and when you do, your own distress will decrease. The two are intimately connected.”

The right kind of caring aids the body to restore homeostasis; healing cannot progress until this happens. Amanda could do a lot to give her body a chance to reset itself:

She could stop eating so much.
She could take up meditation.
She could take pro-active steps to reduce her stress levels.
She could examine her negative beliefs.
She could feed the mind-body connection with the positive reinforcements of fulfillment.
Those are all forms of positive feedback. I also had an immediate suggestion. I asked Amanda to close her eyes and sit quietly for a moment. Then I guided her through the following meditation:

“In your mind’s eye, visualize your body as healthy and balanced. Visualize it at your ideal weight. Feel the contentment this brings. Visualize yourself smiling, feeling pleased with your body. Say to yourself, “This is the real me. I want to have the body I’m seeing. It’s going to be my body as soon as possible.”

As she went through the meditation, Amanda smiled. You could see the tension flowing out of her system. Her face relaxed into a look of contentment and hope.

Why didn’t Amanda’s previous doctors help her? Because they looked on her body basically as a broken machine that needed to be fixed. They had little expertise – or interest – in the whole human picture. But the whole picture was of utmost importance to her. “Stop eating so much” was just the opening wedge of a mind-body strategy to get her into a better place in her life.

Write Your Comment


I watched the PBS special the other night. I am expecting the big solution package. I can`t wait until it arrives. It made so much sense to me. Thank you
sifumary - December 14, 2013
So true.
Ayurveda Next Door - November 18, 2013
Love it Deepak........I have to have this book also!!!!!
Myrna Zelaya - November 18, 2013
I have a (unique?) challenge. I have several belief systems related to food. One says that I need to keep eating, because I don`t know when the next meal will be available. I have taken to carrying snacks in my pocket, but they get eaten so very quickly, I never get to see if I need them. I also, rarely feel full. Unless I stop myself, I will keep eating until I am sick. I believe that part of it is due to my mother using food to \"shut me up\" when she couldn`t get me to stop crying as a baby. But beyond that, I have now learnt so much about hydrating, superfoods, alkalinity, that I try to get \"enough\" of each food into my day, and end up eating for the \"list of recommended daily intake\" regardless if I am \"stuffed\" or \"hungry\". I also mistake \"sugar cravings\" for hunger and although I have THREE!!! breakfasts before work each day, the minute I walk into work, I \"need\" a cake or a biscuit (the rest of my diet is very very healthy) and I know this is merely psychological... but here`s the catch - I have a genetic tendency to gain NO weight - I`ve been the same size since I was 15 (I`m 37 now), I can eat ANYTHING and although I will feel sick in my stomach, I will not have any outwardly physical effects. Quite simply, I associate no pain to eating everything in sight, but the taste sensations from all food creates immense pleasure for me. I have no motivation to stop. I see food, I want it. I`ve even stolen people`s food, after eating a 3 course meal myself. And this violates my other belief system that says that I will never steal from or hurt another person. That`s my story - I hope Deepak Chopra`s new book will help me.
Troy625 - November 18, 2013
Same for any addiction.
Katie Wolf - November 17, 2013
thank you
Source of Inspiration - November 17, 2013
can only hope this is true
Suzanne Camejo - November 17, 2013
Sincerely hoping to read the book soon and only waiting to get hold of one. Congrats and well done.Love
Edward Sinha - November 17, 2013