Meditation-A practice that has been used for ages to attain a state of mental well-being, stability, and calm. The daily practice of meditation has a direct impact on awareness and attention span. It is scientifically proven to clear the mind of unwavering thoughts and help us attain an enhanced emotional and social stability.
But, ever since the practice of meditation has started, one question has stuck in the minds of the practitioners- When is the best time to practice meditation? Before having food, after having food, or while having food?
To understand the effect of food on the intensity or results of meditation, let's look at the common advantages and disadvantages of doing meditation on an empty stomach.
Advantages of doing meditation on an empty stomach:
1. When you have an empty stomach, your mind is alert, which helps you attain an enhanced meditative state.
2. Your cognitive abilities are significantly improved when you have an empty stomach, which leads to a focused meditative state.
3. If you are practicing mindful meditation, being a little hungry can help you reach an intense meditative experience, as it elevates your emotional abilities.
4. The chemical Ghrelin is responsible for inducing the feeling of hunger, and studies have shown that it has a significant effect on the hippocampus-the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Hence, meditating on an empty stomach can positively impact your brain's memory and learning functions.
5. Mindful, emotion-based, and Focus-based meditations are best suited for when you have an empty stomach.
6. When you are hungry, your mind attains a state of alertness due to evolutionary instincts, and meditating when your senses are sharp and focused helps you connect better with your deeper self and the body.
7. When you finally have your food after completing your meditation on an empty stomach, you have a better sensory perception of the food's taste, smell, and texture due to enhanced calmness and focus. It fills you with gratitude and deep satisfaction.
Disadvantages of doing meditation on an empty stomach:
1. If you have been hungry for a long duration and sit for meditation, your hunger pangs can become a distraction, leading to an unsatisfactory meditative state.
2. When we are hungry, our emotions become a little unstable, and if we try to practice meditation when we are agitated emotionally, it might not lead to a pleasant experience.
3. Hunger is our body's calling to restore energy through food, and it is supposed to make us feel physically uncomfortable. Since many meditation formats require us to maintain a comfortable position, being hungry can become a roadblock in such scenarios.
We have discussed both the pros and cons of practicing meditation on an empty stomach. But, what if one wants to meditate after having a meal? What is the ideal gap one should have between eating and meditating, and why?
Ideally, one should wait for at least 90 mins to 2 hrs before meditating after having a meal.
When we have a wholesome meal, our body redirects energy and other resources towards our digestive system. So, for the next few hours, our body is deprived of the necessary sensory focus and alertness needed for meditation. It goes into a state of partial hibernation, where the prime focus of the body becomes efficient digestion of the consumed food. It is because of the same reason that we all feel dull and sleepy after having a complete meal.
To conclude all that we have discussed above, we can see that it is beneficial to meditate on an empty stomach for multiple reasons. But, if one wishes to meditate after having a meal, 1-2 hrs of a gap is recommended between the activities.