Is meditation( breathing exercise) permissible if done for the purpose of reducing stress and food cravings

18 Dec 2019 Ref-No#: 2305

Assalamualaykum, I hope you are doing well.

I was reading about the benefits of meditation I want to know if meditation is permissible if incorporated with diet and exercise

I have read that meditation can help reduce cortisol, the stress hormone and the Article here also describes many more benefits of it https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/

The meditation that I’m doing is closing my eyes for 5-10 mins and breathing in and out noticing inhalation and exhalation as a way to quite the mind and reduce daily stress, there are no words or chanting or anything unislamic according to my knowledge just simple breathing to relieve stress

I’m assuming that there should be nothing wrong in doing meditation this way.

I’m doing meditation because one of my dietitian said that it could make me a eat less since I would be feeling less stressed and hence less likely to use food as a coping mechanism for stress or binge eat which is making me gain weight and suggested that I read this article about the evidence that meditation can help people struggling with weight issues

Why Mindfulness Meditation Is Such A Powerful Weight Loss Tool

Please advise whether this is is permissible.

I asked somewhere about meditation they told me it should be permissible if I’m doing it the way described above and if there are benefits to it but I want a scholarly opinion on it

Jazzakallah

Answer

Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

It is permissible to meditate in the way prescribed. 

We advise you to also focus on the name of Allah; that with every breathe in you focus on Al, and with every breathe out, you focus on Lah. In this way, your meditation will become an act of worship, and since Allah has promised that the heart finds peace and solace in the remembrance of Allah, this will be more effective in relieving your stress. 

Furthermore, by you remembering Allah in solitude, Allah will remember you (and assist you in all your affairs). In a narration of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) has quoted Allah Ta’ala as saying,

أنا عند ظن عبدي بي وأنا معه إذا ذكرني فإن ذكرني في نفسه ذكرته في نفسي وإن ذكرني في ملإ ذكرته في ملإ خير منهم وإن تقرب إلي بشبر تقربت إليه ذراعا وإن تقرب إلي ذراعا تقربت إليه باعا وإن أتاني يمشي أتيته هرولة (متفق عبيه)

“I will treat My servant according to the expectations he has about Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. Should he remember Me in his heart, I also remember him in My Heart. If he remembers Me in an assembly, I remember him in assembly, better than his. If he draws close to Me by the span of a palm, I draw near to him by the cubit, and if he draws near to Me by the cubit I draw near him by the space (covered by) two hands. And if he walks towards Me, I run towards him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

In short, convert the meditation to Muraaqabah, and together with getting the worldly benefits which you outlined, you will score many more worldly benefits, and it will also be a means of your salvation in the hereafter.