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If You Do Just One Thing... Meditate

Imagine if you could do just one thing for 10 minutes a day that would reduce stress, improve focus, and more. Imagine that it’s free and you don’t need any special tools or equipment. Plus, it’s way easier than giving up carbs or committing to hours at the gym. Would you be willing to give it a try?

Some people still have the idea that meditation is too “out there” or that it takes up a lot of time, but we’ve got news for you: Legit scientific research conducted by such esteemed institutions as Johns Hopkins University, Mayo Clinic, and Harvard have found that meditation can help ease anxiety, depression, and pain. It may also have positive impact on conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. One study, which involved a wide variety of meditation techniques, found that regular meditation can offset age-related cognitive decline.

Among the myths about meditation is that it’s a way to stop your thoughts or clear the mind. That’s actually not true. The people at meditation app Headspace say, “It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. 

1-2-3 Meditate

To get started, choose a type meditation that feels good to you, such as mindfulness meditation (originated from Buddhist teachings and the most popular meditation technique in the West) or transcendental meditation (made popular by the Beetles, this is the type where you focus on a mantra or series of Sanskrit words instead of your breath). Concentration meditation is a good place for beginners to start: You just focus on your breath, a repetitive sound, a candle flame, or a word for a few minutes and work up from there.

Like flossing or taking a daily multivitamin, meditation is a habit worth forming. We’ve found that setting a regular time to practice is tremendously helpful, as are some of the tips from author and Buddhist practitioner Jack Cornfield. Many people find that an app is the way to go. We took a look at eight popular ones.

Photo: Michela Ravasio

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