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In a nutshell:
Research shows meditation has many health benefits.
As little as 5 minutes per day can be beneficial.
Meditation is especially helpful for all types of anxiety disorders, insomnia, pain, high blood pressure and depression.
If you're like us, you long perceived meditation as some quacky, humming, quirky activity used only by men dressed in weird orange robes somewhere in Tibet in the middle of a random desolate forest. It's hard to believe that doing something as simple as quieting the mind during a period of silence would have any substantial effect on one's life or health. We know this sounds weird, but meditation and mindfulness have incredible health benefits.
Here are some questions you might have:
What is meditation? By definition, it's thinking deeply or focusing one's mind for a period of time, in silence (or with music), for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
Is there research that supports meditation? Yes! A study done at Harvard in 2012 used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which not only takes pictures of the brain but also records brain activity occurring during the scan, on people who meditate. The results showed that subjects who learned to meditate over the course of two months had less activation of their amygdalas (part of the brain more activated in the setting of fear, stress, and anxiety). The change in brain activity was also present when the subjects were NOT meditating, suggesting that the meditation changed the brain not only while the participant was meditating but also during routine activities the rest of the day.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Many other clinical trials support the effectiveness of meditation in treating the following conditions:
5. High blood pressure
How do I meditate? As little as 5 minutes a day of meditation can be helpful for your health and happiness. You can use a meditation app on your smart phone (like Headspace) or simply follow these few easy-to-learn and replicable steps:
1. Find an area of your home or outside where you are not going to be disturbed.
2. Turn off your cell phone or pager (who still uses a pager?).
3. Sit on the floor or in a chair in a comfortable position.
4. Attempt to fully clear your mind.
5. Take deep breaths (in through your nose and out through your mouth), focusing on your breath.
6. As your mind inevitably drifts off while thinking of other things, gently refocus on your breath.
7. Count the number of breaths up to 10 and then restart the counting.
8. Plan to spend as little as 5 minutes or up to an hour meditating on a regular basis.
Like anything, it takes practice, so we suggest you make it part of your daily routine.
Here is a sample short meditation where you'll hear Mark's beautiful voice (yeah right) guide you through a simple meditation:
00:00 / 06:03
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