Strengthen Your Willpower Reserve Part 3: Five Minute Daily Meditation
Today's Will Power Moment - 33
with Dr. James Meschino
In the last few videos, I have been talking about how to strengthen your willpower reserve, namely your ability to remain in an optimal mental and physiological state that enables you to more easily exert self-control with respect to following through with your weight loss and wellness intentions. Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including focus, stress management, impulse control (that’s a big win when it comes to avoiding unhealthy foods) and self-awareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things – over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines. Regular meditators develop more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex (where executive decision-making occurs), as well as regions of the brain that support self-awareness.
I know that meditating doesn’t sound very exciting, but the good news is that starting with just 5 minutes of meditation per day is a proven powerful brain-training exercise for boosting your willpower. You can slowly extend your meditation time as you get better at it. Maybe creeping up to 10 minutes per day, then 15 minutes, and so on. The key is to spend at least 5 minutes per day, so you don’t lose momentum. Research shows that by the time you have put in a total of 11 hours of cumulative meditation time, imaging studies reveal increased neural connections between regions in the brain that are important for staying focused, ignoring distractions and controlling impulses. Meditation increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, in much the same way that lifting weights increases blood flow to your muscles. Research in recent years has shown that regular meditation time helps people quit smoking, lose weight, kick drug habits and stay sober – and all it takes is starting with 5 minutes per day.
The Meschino Wellness Platform is pleased to offer you a series of Guided Meditation in the Meditation Section of the Platform. I encourage you to check it out, especially if you have struggled to lose weight over the years, or have experienced an addiction to smoking, alcohol or drugs, or if excess stress is taking its toll on your level of happiness and outlook on life at the moment.
Right now, however, let me explain how easy it is to get started with a 5-minute meditation program, so you don’t push if off to the future. To get started all you have to do are these 3 simple steps for 5 minutes per day:
- Sit still and stay put. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, or sit cross-legged on a cushion. Sit up straight with your hands on your lap. Don’t fidget – that’s the physical foundation of self-control.
- Turn your attention to your breathing. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing. Silently, say in your mind as you breathe in, “inhale”, and as you breathe out, “exhale”. When you notice your mind wandering (and it will, because everyone’s does) just bring it back to the breath, without self-judgement. The practice of coming back to your breath, again and again in meditation, kicks the prefrontal cortex into high gear, and quiets the stress and craving centers of your brain.
- After a few minutes drop the labels “inhale” and “exhale” and try just focusing on your breathing. Feel the breath move in and out of your nose and mouth, and experience your chest and belly expanding and contracting with each breath. If your mind wanders, simply start saying silently to yourself again, “inhale” and “exhale” for a few rounds to get your focus back to your breathing.
Okay, that’s it. It’s really that simple. So, start with 5 minutes per day, starting today. As you get better and better at it, expand the time to 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, etc., as your natural evolution unfolds. Just 5 minutes per day, however, is a great start to help strengthen your willpower reserve – which will greatly improve your ability to make important in-the-moment wellness decisions regarding food choices, exercise, better sleep habits, and other health-promoting intentions.
So, get started with this simple meditation exercise, then explore the Meditation Section of the Meschino Wellness Platform, where you will be directed step-by-step through each Guided Meditaiton, in order to take your skills, ability and wellness results to the next level.
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great!
Dr. James Meschino
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.