Many people think meditation is just for relieving stress and anxiety, but new research shows that it can be an effective tool in weight loss programs. The calming effect has not only been proven to help those who suffer from anxiety, but individuals who are looking to shed extra pounds as well.

The basis of mindfulness meditation is "to see things as they are," according to the American Psychological Association. In turn, this can be an effective tool in people who struggle to see overeating as a problem.

"Rather than assuming such deficits are biologically driven, they may be instead due to a disconnection related to over-dieting or using food primarily to meet emotional needs," Jean Kristeller, a psychology professor at Indiana State University, said.

Practicing mindfulness meditation can help the body develop cues to recognize when the urge to overeat is coming. As a result, this can help individuals control their impulses to consume food under times of emotional stress or boredom.

Mindfulness meditation first originated in Eastern spiritual traditions, but it has come a long way from its origins, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. People around the world now practice meditation to treat a number of ailments and help with goals, such as weight loss. These are the four common factors in all types of meditation.

  • A quiet location with little or no distraction
  • A comfortable posture
  • An open mind and attitude
  • A focus of attention, such as a mantra

Meditation is commonly referred to as mind-body medicine, as it rests the mind and body to revitalize the spirit. It is specifically designed to hone in on how emotional, mental, and social behaviors affect physical health.

Through mindfulness meditation, the participant is encouraged to focus on the sensation that comes with inhaling and exhaling. Acknowledging the experience is thought to help individuals recognize emotions and achieve greater balance.

Because the mind is taught to pay more attention to emotions and other factors that can affect the body, mindfulness meditation can help individuals recognize their unnecessary urge to eat. In turn, this can result in more control when it comes to losing weight.