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November 12 2013

The Importance of Body Awareness and Self-Care in Healing and Weight Loss

Category:  Health

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.
The Importance of Body Awareness and Self-Care in Healing and Weight Loss
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.

Top comments

  • The new book "What are you Hungry For?" is another Chopra classic. I have "listened " to the audio version 3 times now. Very comprehensive and integral. I recommend the book to everyone.

    elan star // 2013-11-16 13:10:17 // //
  • lol thanks for the pep talk..brilliant!

    Rebecca Mae Evans // 2013-11-12 12:19:02 // //



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  • 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 // 2013-12-14 19:54:23 // //
  • So true.

    Ayurveda Next Door // 2013-11-18 14:00:34 // //
  • Love it Deepak........I have to have this book also!!!!!

    Myrna Zelaya // 2013-11-18 12:48:32 // //
  • 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 // 2013-11-18 07:48:04 // //
  • Same for any addiction.

    Katie Wolf // 2013-11-17 23:53:58 // //
  • thank you

    Source of Inspiration // 2013-11-17 20:27:20 // //
  • can only hope this is true

    Suzanne Camejo // 2013-11-17 18:18:11 // //
  • Sincerely hoping to read the book soon and only waiting to get hold of one. Congrats and well done.Love

    Edward Sinha // 2013-11-17 18:13:01 // //
  • Cannot wait to read this book :)

    Heather Wagoner // 2013-11-17 16:09:13 // //
  • ...and vice versa!

    Beatrice Fagrell // 2013-11-17 15:53:03 // //
  • Check-in! I did great yesterday on my first day of conscious eating!!!

    Amanda Laubinger- El Hadid // 2013-11-17 11:09:49 // //
  • I think I may buy this book

    Lenore Rocanello Beeson // 2013-11-17 10:11:03 // //
  • I saw some of that on Dr.Oz show last week, It was Awesome Deepak Chopra

    Kathy Yankowsky // 2013-11-17 09:57:34 // //
  • Wow

    Portia Susan Thys // 2013-11-17 09:37:14 // //
  • <3 comfort eating is good..unconscious eating is not

    Brenda Ayala // 2013-11-17 09:18:30 // //
  • Por favor lA paginA en espAnol gracias

    Cristina Fiori // 2013-11-17 07:24:20 // //
  • You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say. (chk my page for more help an guidance).

    Distance Counseling. // 2013-11-17 05:44:32 // //
  • Sun rising over the mountain. I think I will go for a walk, and enjoy the beautiful day. :)

    Mari Ann Ree // 2013-11-17 04:45:51 // //
  • good idea

    Marsha Bomar // 2013-11-17 03:50:28 // //
  • drive-thru & dine-in?

    Heidianne Cousins // 2013-11-17 03:42:41 // //
  • Why can't we have a big golden 'O' for Oganics instead of the 'Golden M' - isn't there any healthy-minded investors/entrepenuers out there who have the money/healthy-mindedness to start a healthy quick-takeaway food????

    Heidianne Cousins // 2013-11-17 03:41:58 // //
  • वदनि कवळ घेता नाम घ्या श्रीहरीचे । सहज हवन होते नाम घेता फुकाचे । जिवन करि जिवित्वा अन्न हे पूर्णब्रह्म । उदरभरण नोहे जाणिजे यज्ञकर्म

    Suhas Velhal // 2013-11-17 03:33:25 // //
  • thanks

    Mariann Boda Toth // 2013-11-17 03:31:25 // //
  • Já pedi diversas vezes para que tradusão para o portugues, O Neale é um querido e poucos sabem ingles.Faça esse favor.

    Marco Aurélio // 2013-11-17 03:18:13 // //
  • I'm on my way thanks

    Taylor Uebergang // 2013-11-17 02:32:25 // //
  • I wish you were my guru

    Teresa Stout Mossinger // 2013-11-17 01:44:45 // //
  • Yeah

    Vivianne van Asperen // 2013-11-17 01:06:30 // //
  • Just in time for the holiday gift giving.

    Christi Guymon // 2013-11-16 22:53:08 // //
  • Great thought! Awareness is indeed the key....

    Jayashree Khadilkar Deshpande // 2013-11-16 22:15:52 // //
  • I believe Deepaks words. Someday we will each be able to take posession of enough positive energy in our subconscious and make this happen......someday. :)

    Lena Papia Cord // 2013-11-16 21:19:45 // //
  • We love you, DeepakChopra <3

    Waldy Rojas // 2013-11-16 21:09:11 // //
  • You have to take risks, in Life. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen- Sachin Sharma. (chk my page for more Help and Guidance).

    Distance Counseling. // 2013-11-16 21:03:11 // //
  • Can't wait to read it :)!

    Missy Lee HI // 2013-11-16 21:01:48 // //
  • this is an extremely important question because an untrained mind is equivalent to wasting your own personal wish maker. As long as our minds remain untrained we will continue to be victims of habitual thought.

    Thriving Goddess Academy // 2013-11-16 20:49:58 // //
  • Great.

    Jose Angel Rivera // 2013-11-16 20:42:47 // //
  • I think many of us older folks who are all alone are definitely "hungry" for love and sweet companionship!

    Marey Coates // 2013-11-16 20:28:18 // //
  • Enough conscious living! Let's have a drink!

    Florence Link // 2013-11-16 20:26:47 // //
  • Absolutamente Cierto!!! Namaste!!!;

    Paty Ar // 2013-11-16 19:35:34 // //
  • Just got it for my Kindle on IPad :)

    Abby Edson // 2013-11-16 19:29:33 // //
  • totally agree, some wont understand this lol

    Raychelle Eaton // 2013-11-16 19:28:09 // //
  • :D // 2013-11-16 19:16:48 // //
  • Thank you, am I playing a role in it? You know you keep me going

    Lisa Chan // 2013-11-16 19:16:07 // //
  • Love This-

    Jane Davis // 2013-11-16 19:12:37 // //
  • Thx

    Celeste Persidsky // 2013-11-16 19:10:55 // //
  • It truly does open us up to the awareness of other levels. Who would have thought losing weight or understanding why we eat, could teach us so much?

    Ann Reynolds // 2013-11-16 19:05:58 // //
  • Absolutely!

    Connie Nikolovski // 2013-11-16 19:04:55 // //
  • The new book "What are you Hungry For?" is another Chopra classic. I have "listened " to the audio version 3 times now. Very comprehensive and integral. I recommend the book to everyone.

    elan star // 2013-11-16 13:10:17 // //
  • Gracias!

    Mónica Sánchez Peña // 2013-11-13 08:13:10 // //
  • Just had a bid double choc Pepperidge Farm cookie.

    Peter Gumaer Ogden // 2013-11-13 07:39:59 // //
  • Very nice .is it available in INDIA

    Pradeep Sharma // 2013-11-13 05:58:59 // //
  • The more dirt you've been through, the bigger the scar, The more hurt you've been through, the bigger you are.” (chk my page for more help and advice).

    Distance Counseling. // 2013-11-13 05:40:36 // //
  • even denken .....

    Linda van der Caaij // 2013-11-13 04:34:11 // //
  • nice

    Aizaz Khalid Qureshi // 2013-11-13 03:43:04 // //
  • Deepak, if you so claim the expanded field of knowing, than your comment at the Science & Nonduality Conference, that Stalin and Hitler halted Einstein's progress in Science was entirely unnecessary. Don't give yourself away any further & dragging people into mass confusion.

    Martine Knopf // 2013-11-13 00:36:25 // //
  • Is it available in Nepal?

    Tulki Tamang // 2013-11-13 00:00:42 // //
  • Thank you... I needed to hear that right now...

    Linda Morales // 2013-11-12 23:05:49 // //
  • I like eating some of everything. Just not a lot of anything. Except razzelberry pie. Then all bets are off.)

    Jeanne K Lambert Groves // 2013-11-12 22:07:02 // //
  • great saying and quite true..

    Yosh Singh // 2013-11-12 21:59:03 // //
  • Thank You

    Leslie Grace Swiednicki // 2013-11-12 21:24:04 // //
  • well said Deepak, well said !

    Vivian Victor // 2013-11-12 21:16:36 // //
  • Simple change in your Choices can change your day and ultimately can change your life. So from today- Choose to have faith; Choose to surround yourself with positive people; Choose to let go of negative situations; Choose TO BE FREE- Sachin Sharma. (chk my page for more help and advice).

    Distance Counseling. // 2013-11-12 20:58:44 // //
  • I preordered it...waiting for its arrival!

    Rebecca Rene Daria Gharagozlou-Struss // 2013-11-12 20:46:43 // //
  • Kenneth W. Touchet this is him

    Maria Cruz // 2013-11-12 20:46:07 // //
  • Great.

    Jose Angel Rivera // 2013-11-12 19:39:57 // //
  • I need this book...urgently

    Michelle Williams // 2013-11-12 15:20:12 // //
  • mi piace molto il pensiero questo libro è tradotto in italiano Dottor Chopra?

    Marisa Boutagy // 2013-11-12 14:47:55 // //
  • Being aware of what we eat. Most of the time, one is aware of over eating and one can not stop. One can not stop, because fundamentally there is a sense of "self destruction" in ones mind, and over eating, in that moment, becomes a friend. In that moment the pleasure of rebellion one feels, toward oneself, is so great, that one keeps eating until one burst. Right after, there is a sense of remorse, of guilt. And the circle continuous, self hate=overeating.

    Goddesses // 2013-11-12 14:16:30 // //
  • Liv Campbell

    Elizabeth Geoffroy // 2013-11-12 14:16:07 // //
  • thanks

    Rosa Figueroa Casanova // 2013-11-12 14:04:12 // //

    Kim Hastert // 2013-11-12 13:56:55 // //
  • Thanks

    Rosa Aleman Aldana // 2013-11-12 13:52:00 // //
  • Seguire tratando, seguire...

    Rosa Maria Diaz Jimeno // 2013-11-12 13:39:59 // //
  • It's making sense to me. Thank you!

    Lorri Tanaka // 2013-11-12 13:36:43 // //
  • Go Deepak, you are the best <3 We love you <3

    Waldy Rojas // 2013-11-12 13:36:02 // //
  • n entendi!

    Dalva Procopio Caiado // 2013-11-12 13:35:47 // //
  • The book has arrived by mail today

    Richard Vandemelkboer // 2013-11-12 13:27:28 // //
  • This book is really calling out to me ~ I am going to the bookstore and get it ~ yes, I am going today ~

    Janet L. Hatch // 2013-11-12 13:23:48 // //
  • Looking forward to reading your new book!!

    Niri Maharaj // 2013-11-12 13:20:00 // //
  • The light went on!!!!!!!!! I love the term, and I wonder how much "unconscious eating" I've done in my lifetime.

    Clare Cottuli // 2013-11-12 13:14:09 // //
  • Yes, reading FB and eating at the same time . I don't remember how it tasted ? I just eat. Sometime it happens .Its not good. Trying to be more conscious. Thanks for reminding me.

    Helmut Kluckner // 2013-11-12 12:41:14 // //
  • Thank you Deepak~ many blessings

    Melissa Missy Garza // 2013-11-12 12:31:38 // //
  • Hey what's going on Deepak Chopra?? How are you doing today? Did you remember to expand your consciousness this morning? I didn't have time to expand my consciousness this morning, but I'll probably expand my consciousness a little bit later when I have some spare time. Hope you have a grand day! Take care Deepak Chopra! Thank you for being so awesome! Peace & Love

    Jesse Fry // 2013-11-12 12:27:05 // //
  • Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live. - Jim Rohn

    Inspiring Quotes // 2013-11-12 12:23:02 // //
  • thanks 3

    Mariann Boda Toth // 2013-11-12 12:21:00 // //
  • lol thanks for the pep talk..brilliant!

    Rebecca Mae Evans // 2013-11-12 12:19:02 // //