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Understanding the benefits of meditation


What are the benefits of meditation?

Much of the research focuses on mindfulness as a meditative practice. Evidence supports the claims that mindfulness meditation improves emotional regulation, decreases anxiety, enables people to become less reactive and offers greater cognitive flexibility within stressful situations.

How often should I meditate?

Much of the research suggests that the benefits are greatest with a daily meditative practice. My teachers have all been of the opinion that while the effort to practice every day is important, even just a few minutes helps you establish the new routine.

How long do I need to meditate to gain the benefits?

Some studies on the effects of meditation have shown that daily practice can produce significant neurological adaptations in as little as four weeks; the practice of mindfulness in particular is associated with changes to regions of the brain responsible for attention regulation and sensory processing.

What is mindfulness meditation?

The practice of mindfulness meditation is deceptively simple: Remember that you are breathing, then watch what happens! Of course, our mind wanders to all sorts of places. By redirecting our attention back to our breathing or some other anchoring sensation, we cultivate our ability to be with and accept our present-moment experience, however it feels, and build our capacity to regulate our attention from one moment to the next. It is all about experiencing and embracing a different relationship with our mind and body: simply being in the present moment with acceptance and without judgment.

What else can I do to manage my stress?

Speak with your doctor regularly about your stress level. Prolonged stress can worsen many physical and mental health conditions, such as high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive problems and more. It's important to monitor your stress level, just as you would any other health issue. Keeping regular appointments with your doctor is also important. Many physicians even offer online scheduling.

By David McGraw, meditation instructor, Move by BJC

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