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Why You Should Be Practicing Meditation

Sleep Better: More Shut-Eye at Night Means Brighter Days Sleep isn’t just relaxation for eight hours a day—it’s essential to our cognitive functioning. Meditation gives you all sorts of benefits, like enhanced REM sleep and increased levels of melatonin. Stress Less: Make Room for More Happiness It’s a little-known secret that Wall Street execs, famous artists, and Silicon Valley whiz kids are some of the biggest advocates of meditation as a way to manage stress since meditation increases the thickness of your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain associated with attention, self-awareness as practitioners have less stress, less depression, and overall lower burnout rates. More Mindful Meals: No More Stress Eating Researchers studied groups to test if meditating could prevent overeating. The scientists didn’t prescribe any diet, but instead taught mindful eating, and had participants meditate for thirty minutes a day. What happened? While the control group actually gained weight, the treatment participants maintained their weights, plus lowered their cortisol levels. Higher reductions in cortisol and stress also showed higher reductions in abdominal fat. Reduce Pain and Heal Faster: Relieve Pain by Changing Your Mind The Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School proved in the ‘80s that meditation and mindfulness significantly improves pain symptoms and quality of life in chronic pain patients, even up to four years later. Recently, we’ve also gotten a look at how the brain might be involved discovering that when people participate in four days of mindfulness-based training, participants reported less pain intensity and unpleasantness. What’s more, MRIs showed reductions in pain-induced cerebral blood flow during meditation sessions. Beat Anxiety: Send Worries Packing Focusing on all the terrible things that might happen to us - but often don’t - takes us away from the present and causes our bodies a lot of stress. Harvard Medical School found that meditation helps those with generalized anxiety disorder, a condition marked by hard-to-control worries, poor sleep, and irritability.

Smile More: A Happy Pill, with No Side Effects

Meditation helps us gain awareness of our minds, so we can see negative thoughts and say “those thoughts are not me.” A Harvard study found that mind-wandering, which often means drifting to these negative thoughts, was linked to unhappiness. And recently, Johns Hopkins researchers, said that for depression, meditation provided a significant improvement in depressive symptoms compared to the use of antidepressant medications. Relax: Don’t Let the Little Things Get You Down Relaxing your body and mind with meditation helps you stay centered when you encounter those everyday stressors. Investigators from the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts found that practicing meditation causes what is called the “relaxation response,” the opposite of the “fight-or-flight” response, what happens to our bodies when we get stressed. Studies showed that the relaxation response alleviates anxiety and also has positive effects on heart rate, blood pressure, and brain activity. Enhance Your Love Life: Your Relationship Will Thank You Your partner will thank you. Learning to better recognize your own emotions, and those of others, you’ll more easily experience lasting harmony in your relationships. Maharishi International University found that couples who practiced meditation reported significantly greater marital satisfaction, compassion towards each other, improved listening and a steamier sex life than those who didn’t. Swoon. Lead a Successful Life: A Clear Path to Achieving Your Goals Maybe you’ve heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be great at something. The Beatles played 1,200 concerts together before becoming internationally known. Bill Gates started programming in eighth grade. But new research shows there’s a different formula for success. World-class athletes, top managers and world-class performers, when tested, have all shown high levels of what’s called brain integration. This means that their brains are wired with strong connections between the different areas, they have heightened attention, and they’re able to think quickly to deal with problems. A study from Harvard Medical School demonstrated that meditation causes changes in brain waves that actually improve the brain’s functionality.

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