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The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!

A. What is spirituality?

Our personal definition of spirituality can be pretty unique and individual to us. However we define it, it’s about a search for meaning, purpose, and a direction in life. It may or may not include a feeling of connection to something larger than ourselves, what some may call the divine or the sacred. Our spiritual quests strive for answers about life and death. Some may engage in a regular spiritual practice – either something that causes them to turn inward for answers to life’s larger questions, or something that involves worshipping that which is larger than themselves. Others turn to the spiritual perhaps when facing difficulties, illness, or the end of life (either their own or that of someone close to them).

B. What if I’m not religious?

Although spirituality may involve the practice of a particular religion, in general it has a broader meaning. Spirituality and religion have some overlap, but also have some unique elements. The former is more about meaning, connection, and life choices, whereas the latter is more often about rituals, morality and belief.

C. How do I cultivate a sense of spirituality?

There are countless ways to do this. Here are a few strategies that many people use to cultivate and deepen their spirituality:

1. Develop a gratitude practice

See my recent blog post for tips on how to do this:

http://thefullmindweigh.com/the-relationship-between-gratitude-and-successful-weight-loss-maintenance/

2. Develop a mindfulness or meditation practice

You’ll find some ideas in this article:

http://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/

3. Engage in creative pursuits

4. Develop a habit of writing or journaling

5. Simply be curious – ask yourself questions and seek answers

Ask yourself some key questions:

  • What do I value most in life?
  • What inspires me and brings me hope?
  • What gives me joy?

6. Develop a sense of awe

For tips, see this article:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/four_awe_inspiring_activities

7. Spend time in nature

8. Volunteer

Serve a cause that touches your heart

9. Read inspirational stories or literature

Try the “Chicken Soup” books for starters. You might like this one:

Chicken Soup to Inspire the Body and Soul

10. Talk to people you know who’ve cultivated their own sense of spirituality

11. Engage in prayer or religious ritual – if this fits for you

D. Does deepening Spirituality really facilitate successful Weight Loss Maintenance?

In surveys by The Solution, a weight loss program that focuses on skills in self-nurturing and limit setting, program founder Laurel Mellin, RD, the author of a book by the same name found that the 73% of participants who developed a deeper sense of spirituality were more likely to maintain their weight loss and had seven times as much weight loss as those who didn’t gain spiritual depth.

E. What are the benefits of cultivating spirituality?

Cultivating spirituality leads you to live a more examined life. As a result, you naturally become more mindful, more aware. This in turn results in a lowered risk for engaging in automatic, unconscious habits, including automatic eating habits. You’re more likely to stop, examine, and think.

Spirituality helps to relieve stress. As you gain clarity on what’s most meaningful to you in life, you’re able to reduce your degree of focus on problems and stressors. As you develop a sense of purpose, you feel less alone and you gain peace, even during challenging times. You’re better able to cope with pain and loss. You have a greater sense of connection, and so you feel less lonely.

As you become more spiritual, you develop greater appreciation for the wondrous machine that your body is. As a result, you’re more inclined to treat it with loving care.

It’s critical that you feed your soul. If you find a way to do this that is meaningful to you, you’re less likely to try to feed your soul with food that your body does not need. Cultivating spirituality helps you find meaning in life far beyond food.

F. What if I don’t believe in the concept of “soul”?

If that’s the case for you, then its fine to substitute “inner self”, “essential self”, “core self”, “higher self”, “inner being”, “consciousness”, or any other term that you’re comfortable with.

If you’re feeling stuck in terms of reaching your goals, coaching can help move you forward. If you’re interested in getting unstuck, contact me for details: doreen@thefullmindweigh.com

With your continued health in mind,

Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.

Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management

Creator, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management

www.thefullmindweigh.com

The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.