Today, I spent the day with a friend from California with whom I studied macrobiotics many years ago. He’s now a doctor of Chinese medicine, and when we shared books, it seems like our conclusions were similar… no amount of “dieting” will work if you’re stressed out.
Whether you look to modern science or ancient wisdom, stress is seen as the root of dis-ease. According to the ancient Hawaiian Huna philosophy taught by Serge Kahili King, PhD, stress plays a part in all health problems. In fact, according to Dr. King, stress can cause tension at the physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual level, leading to inhibited energy flow and, ultimately, illness. In my book, THE CHAKRA ENERGY DIET, I explain how stress hormones can cause your body to not only crave food, but to store more fat.
Of course, we are always going to have spikes of stress in our jobs and our lives, but we don’t want it to be chronic, and you don’t want to suppress it with addictions – whether to food, alcohol or drugs. My mother is very ill and I found myself caring for her 24/7 until I was so stressed and exhausted that I was reaching for chocolate after chocolate – until I remembered to practice what I preach in my new book to relax. I’ve also gotten more health services to come to my Mom’s house to give me some break time and rest… very important for caregivers to ask for help too!
For nearly twenty years, I’ve used yoga and meditation on a daily basis to relax my body and mind (and now that I have caregivers coming to help my mother, I have time for full sessions again), but I was excited to add in these “instant healing” techniques to keep me sane during this trying time. Please try them out and see how they work for you too!
What do I do first when feeling stressed out? I used to reach for a bag of potato chips or chocolate until I was taught:
“Don’t eat when upset or angry.” Instead, I…
Take a Break and Breathe
Put your hands on your tummy, below your navel, and feel it rise and fall with your breath. We often breathe very shallowly or even hold our breath when we’re stressed. Simple deep belly breathing can both calm the release of stress chemicals in the body and oxygenate your cells.
Try this combination of breath and focused attention called Piko-piko breathing…
“Piko-piko is a special Hawaiian breathing technique that simultaneously relaxes and energizes the body,” says Dr. King. Using shamanic techniques and chakra colors, imagine breathing in bright yellow energy from the sun into your Solar Plexus or navel area and breathing out your stress. Or pull in inspiration from the heavens, visualizing violet or white light coming in with the breath through the Crown Chakra, and exhale your stress by breathing it out with awareness at the bottom of your feet.
“I know, I know, this seems almost too simple,” says Dr. King. “But it does work.”
How to Stop Physical Food Cravings
How can you stop a physical craving for a certain food? Dr. King recommends a technique called TFR – THINK, FEEL and RELAX. If you aren’t actually hungry, but feel a strong craving for a certain food, try these steps…
- THINK about the food you’re craving.
- FEEL where the craving is in your body.
- RELAX, breathing in and out of that spot.
For instance, perhaps you’re upset and craving some ice cream to cool off. THINK about the ice cream, FEEL the churning in the pit of your stomach, then RELAX by breathing in and out of your stomach area. Repeat until the craving evaporates.
If you can’t satisfy your craving, notice if it is for a food that may contain essential vitamins or minerals that you may be missing – for example, chocolate, nuts and seeds are all high in zinc and magnesium. For an antioxidant- and vitamin-rich snack, reach for a naturally sweet and fiber-filled apple.
“Think” Yourself Thin
To relieve mental stress, pay more attention to what you like, rather than what you don’t. Criticism, whether of yourself or something else, creates mental stress and then tension in your body, explains Dr. King.
So, first of all, don’t knock your body. Praise it for every step it takes in the right direction. Try self-love, rather than self-criticism, when you look in the mirror. Who would put up with a critical person barraging them all day with their negativity?
Push aside that critical voice in your head, and instead, focus on something you like about yourself – you’re a good person, with your own unique style and taste.
A good morning practice, when you first look in the mirror, is to spend a full minute focusing on everything you like about yourself…telling yourself out loud everything you like about yourself. This is a quick mental stress reliever I learned from Dr. King called “Saturation Praise.”
Also praise everyone and everything else that represents your goal – if you want to be thinner, praise thin people, telephone poles, etc. If you want more curves, praise Sophia Vergara, fluffy clouds, and pillows.
Don’t Push Down Uncomfortable Emotions
On the emotional level, anger is often tied to inflammatory processes which damage the body, one of only many reasons to practice forgiveness. If something is gnawing at you, rather than trying to calm yourself with food, decide to let it go.
Dr. King taught me a simple anger-release technique: Place one hand on an area of your body where you feel tension or inflammation, and point the other hand toward the earth, which can absorb your angst, and say, “Whatever this is related to, I release it and let it go forever” until the tension and pain eases.
Undigested emotions can lead to your body holding on to weight as well as anger or fear. Release your emotions and stop what’s eating you. There are many reasons to forgive (even if you can’t forget) transgressions – because anger only hurts YOU.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” ~ Buddha
You’re Already Complete and Connected
On the spiritual level, tension can come from feeling isolated or separate, and the antidote can be as easy as meditating. Dr. King suggests trying a nalu meditation, focusing for a minute on something beautiful. You will soon feel a sense of relaxation come over you and a greater connection to spirit, your higher self, or God (work with your own beliefs about this).
Once you’re in that relaxed state, it’s a good time to express gratitude for the good in your life or to ask for inspiration. When you have ideal health or reach your perfect weight, what would you like to achieve and share with the world?
Embracing the “Relaxation Response”
As you address your stress, and practice relaxation responses, your metabolism will improve, it will be easier to make nourishing food choices vs. struggling with willpower, and your body will look and feel better.
I hope you’ve seen how relaxing your stress responses allows you to better digest your food, helping you achieve your perfect body. All of these tools shared here, plus all the info in THE CHAKRA ENERGY DIET, will assist you in balancing your digestive and hormonal systems, your mind, your emotions, your spirit, and yes, your chakras.