- Stress Hack: 4 Things I Learned After Meditating for a Month
- 1. You Can Meditate Anywhere
- 2. A Meditation by Any Other Name Is … Meditation
- 3. Meditation Helped Me to Stay Focused
- 4. The Practice Helped Me Remain Calm in Otherwise Stressful Situations
- Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective
- This Is Your Brain on Meditation
- 12 Little Things That Can Happen to Your Body After Just 15 Minutes of Meditation
Stress Hack: 4 Things I Learned After Meditating for a Month
After three weeks of meditating every day for 5 to 10 minutes, I was a wreck. Deadlines were piling up at work, I was scrambling to arrange a birthday party for my 3-year-old, and in a dispute with my landlord about forthcoming renovations. Good times.
But I was meditating every day, so I didn’t understand why I was so stressed out. I’d read enough about it in magazines and books that I thought the practice would render me calm and collected at all times. When I mentioned this to Allan Lokos, the founder and guiding teacher of the Community Meditation Center in New York City, he chuckled.
“Meditation is not necessarily about stress reduction,” he said. “If one experiences a reduction of stress in practicing meditation that’s great, but it’s not really the purpose.”
He went on to explain that the traditional, classic perspective of meditation has nothing to do with stress reduction or relaxation. You’ll never find those words or concepts in the original teachings, he told me.
“Meditation was taught by the Buddha as a way for people to gain insight into what life is really about and to gain wisdom, which will lead to a cessation of the way people cause themselves unhappiness,” he said. “What is left with the cessation of the creation of unhappiness is a life without stress.”
It was an interesting perspective, one that was at odds with my quick-fix attitude.
“So then why should I continue to meditate if it’s not giving me the sought after by-product,” I asked?
“That’s just part of the process,” Lokos said. He explained how people tend to think that if they have positive thoughts during a meditation sitting it is good, and if they have negative thoughts during a sitting it is bad. “That’s not true,” he said. “What’s good is to sit and practice.”
I took Lokos’s advice and continued on my journey to enlightenment, content with the way things were in the moment.
Although stress reduction might not be the main goal of meditation, enough research supports the idea that the practice of mindfulness can relieve emotional or mental strain.
A study published in March 2018 in the journal Brain and Cognition found that individuals who practiced Transcendental Meditation, a form of silent mantra meditation, over a four-month period experienced reduced levels of psychological stress in the workplace.
Another study, presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 conference in San Diego, found a reduction in anxiety after a single one-hour introductory meditation session.
There’s even a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program.
The program was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, the founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, to help chronically ill patients who were not responding to traditional treatment. Since its inception in the 1970s, the program has spread to medical schools and mindfulness facilities across the country.
Mounting research demonstrates other benefits of meditation, including pain reduction and improvements in memory and concentration.
Of 122 people living with chronic musculoskeletal conditions who participated in the Pain and Stress Management program implemented in 2017 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, more than half said that mindful breathing helped them manage chronic pain and stress.
The research was presented at the American College of Rheumatology and Association of Rheumatology Annual Meeting on October 24, 2018, in Chicago.
Research published in March 2018 in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior found that individuals undergoing mindfulness training experienced improvements in memory performance, which was also linked with volume increases in the left hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory.
This sounded great and cheaper than any other stress-reduction technique I could think of — massage, yoga, reiki. I decided to give it a try. Here’s what I learned about meditation after trying it for a month, and how it helped me.
1. You Can Meditate Anywhere
When I started, I would set my alarm five minutes earlier than usual and wake up and listen to a guided meditation on Calm, the meditation app (free on the App Store and Google Play, with in-app purchases). But a few days into the new habit, I overslept. I had no time to meditate and rushed through my morning routine to get myself and my daughter out the door.
When I was sitting on the subway headed to the office, it started to weigh on me: How am I ever going to keep this up for a month? I don’t have time to meditate, even when I try to make the time.
Then it struck me: I could meditate on the train. I stuck in my headphones and located the app on my phone to get five minutes of stillness before I started the workday.
Although Lokos suggested that it’s better to have a set time and location for a meditation practice, these are not hard and fast rules. In fact, there really are no rules when it comes to meditation, especially when you’re starting out. Lokos reassured me of this point when he ran down the dos and don’ts of meditation:
“You don’t have to sit with your legs crossed and you don’t have to close your eyes,” he said. “You don’t even need the app.”
According to Lokos, all you have to do is follow the sensations of the breath.
“In the early part of training, it’s about the development of concentration,” he said. “Select one place and time where it’s easiest to follow the sensations of the breath.”
For me, that place wasn’t always the same. I’ve meditated on the subway, in a quiet office at work, in the steam room at the gym, even in a meditation van that fortunately parks near my office on a regular basis.
But for those of you, Lokos, who thrive on discipline, he suggests that meditating in the mornings works better than later in the day.
2. A Meditation by Any Other Name Is … Meditation
When I announced my intent to meditate to my colleagues and friends, I was inundated with suggestions on how to get started: try this app, get that book, go to this class.
It was great to know that there were so many options available to me, and I tried each one out. I personally found a guided loving-kindness meditation to be the most enjoyable.
Also, it helped to have a voice to follow because I found it easier to refocus whenever my mind wandered (which it did often).
There are many different kinds of meditation to choose from, and research shows that different meditation types can have different effects on the brain.
In a study published in October 2017 in the journal Science Advances, researchers looked at the effects of three different types of meditation practiced for three months on the brains of more than 300 volunteers. The first group practiced focusing on their breath, and bringing their mind back to that focus whenever it wandered.
The second group practiced a loving-kindness meditation to enhance one’s compassion. And the third meditation group was instructed to observe their thoughts in a nonjudgmental manner.
MRI scans of participants after each three-month course was completed showed that each of the different trainings led to volume increases in the corresponding brain areas: Focused meditation led to increased volume in parts of the brain that deal with attention, compassion meditation was linked to enhancement in brain regions associated with empathy, and nonjudgmental meditation was associated with changes in the part of the brain involved in theory of mind, or understanding the perspective of others.
When starting your practice, Lokos suggests trying out different things until you find what’s right for you. “Read some books, read what might make sense, and go and try different things,” he said.
And it’s important not to get discouraged if you don’t reap expected benefits right away. Richard J.
Davidson, PhD, a professor of psychology and psychiatry and director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin in Madison told me that as you become more familiar with the nature of your mind, things may seem worse. That's good because you're actually noticing what's happening in the mind and you’re still progressing.
Dr. Davidson also stressed that meditation will not benefit everyone in the exact same way.
“What amount of practice can be of benefit to one person will be different to another person and will differ by the kinds of meditation being practiced,” he said.
3. Meditation Helped Me to Stay Focused
Though keep in mind this wasn’t a scientific study, and I didn’t control for all confounding factors — for example, I quit using social media — two-thirds of the way into my practice I noticed that I was remembering things more easily and felt more productive during the daytime.
A growing body of research supports the notion that meditation can improve memory and concentration.
In a study published in March 2018 in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, researchers followed individuals for seven years after they completed a three-month retreat at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.
The retreat involved daily meditations designed to focus attention and develop compassion and loving-kindness for themselves and others.
Participants who continued their practice after the retreat showed the same improvements in mental health — better focus and attention — as they had right after completing the retreat seven years prior.
4. The Practice Helped Me Remain Calm in Otherwise Stressful Situations
Remember how I mentioned that guided meditation suited me best? The one I did most frequently was called a loving-kindness meditation, also known as a metta meditation.
It is a practice of cultivating compassion for others.
While focusing on my breath I would listen to a voice as it guided me through sending goodwill and kindness to others — people I loved, my acquaintances, and even people with whom I was having difficulty.
Practicing this type of meditation, helped me to feel more compassion for the people I found otherwise annoying and I was able to relinquish any ill will.
By calming the mind I was able to gain a new perspective, see things more clearly and have compassion for others.
I was also able to more calmly handle discussions with my landlord about the renovations taking place in my building. I wasn’t confrontational, accusatory, or mean. Instead I remained calm and spoke thoughtfully, and was able to walk away from conversations with him feeling proud rather than ashamed.
“The gaining of clarity is a significant benefit of meditation,” Lokos told me. “It’s the opposite of delusion.”
Although my “30-day challenge” has ended, I still practice meditation on a fairly regular basis. When I find myself getting angry or anxious or stressed out, that little voice inside of me gently asks, “have you meditated today?”
Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective
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This Is Your Brain on Meditation
I realized today that in all my posts regarding the brain and how to sculpt it with mindfulness, I’ve never actually explained how and why meditation works.
Specifically, the science behind how your brain changes the longer you meditate.
I think this is important for many reasons, but one of the most salient is that this information serves as a great motivator to keep up a daily practice (or start one).
I’m sure you’ve heard people extol the virtues of meditation. You may be skeptical of the claims that it helps with all aspects of life. But, the truth is, it does.
Sitting every day, for at least 15-30 minutes, makes a huge difference in how you approach life, how personally you take things and how you interact with others.
It enhances compassion, allows you to see things more clearly (including yourself) and creates a sense of calm and centeredness that is indescribable. There really is no substitute.
For those of you who are curious as to how meditation changes the brain, this is for you. Although this may be slightly technical, bear with me because it’s really interesting. The brain, and how we are able to mold it, is fascinating and nothing short of amazing. Here are the brain areas you need to know:
- Lateral prefrontal cortex: the part of the brain that allows you to look at things from a more rational, logical and balanced perspective. In the book, we call it the Assessment Center. It is involved in modulating emotional responses (originating from the fear center or other parts of the brain), overriding automatic behaviors/habits and decreasing the brain’s tendency to take things personally (by modulating the Me Center of the brain, see below).
- Medial prefrontal cortex: the part of the brain that constantly references back to you, your perspective and experiences. Many people call this the “Me Center” of the brain because it processes information related to you, including when you are daydreaming, thinking about the future, reflecting on yourself, engaging in social interactions, inferring other people’s state of mind or feeling empathy for others. We call it the Self-Referencing Center.
What’s interesting about the Medial PreFrontal Cortex (mPFC) is that it actually has two sections:
- Ventromedial medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) – involved in processing information related to you and people that you view as similar to you. This is the part of the brain that can cause you to end up taking things too personally, which is why we referred to it as the unhelpful aspect of the Self-Referencing Center in the book. (In reality, this brain area has many important and helpful functions – since we were focusing on overcoming anxiety, depression and habits you want to change, we referred to it as unhelpful because it often causes increases in rumination/worry and exacerbates anxious or depressive thoughts/states/feelings.)
- Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex (dmPFC) – involved in processing information related to people who you perceive as being dissimilar from you. This very important part of the brain is involved in feeling empathy (especially for people who we perceive of as not being us) and maintaining social connections.
- Insula: the part of the brain that monitors bodily sensations and is involved in experiencing “gut-level” feelings. Along with other brain areas, it helps “guide” how strongly you will respond to what you sense in your body (i.e., is this sensation something dangerous or benign?). It is also heavily involved in experiencing/feeling empathy.
- Amygdala: the alarm system of the brain, what most refer to as the “Fear Center.” It's a part of the brain that is responsible for many of our initial emotional responses and reactions, including the “fight-or-flight” response. (Along with the Insula, this is what we referred to as the Uh Oh Center.)
If you were to look at people’s brains before they began a meditation practice, you would ly see strong neural connections within the Me Center and between the Me Center and the bodily sensation/fear centers of the brain.
This means that whenever you feel anxious, scared or have a sensation in your body (e.g., a tingling, pain, itching, whatever), you are far more ly to assume that there is a problem (related to you or your safety).
This is precisely because the Me Center is processing the bulk of the information.
What's more, this over-reliance on the Me Center explains how it is that we often get stuck in repeating loops of thought about our life, mistakes we made, how people feel about us, our bodies (e.g., “I’ve had this pain before, does this mean something serious is going on?) and so on.
Why is the Me Center allowed to process information this way, essentially unabated? The reason this happens, in part, is because the Assessment Center’s connection to the Me Center is relatively weak.
If the Assessment Center was working at a higher capacity, it would modulate the excessive activity of the vmPFC (the part that takes things personally) and enhance the activity of the dmPFC (the part involved in understanding other’s thoughts and feelings).
This would lead us to take in all the relevant information, discard erroneous data (that the Me Center might want to focus on exclusively) and view whatever is happening from a more balanced perspective – essentially decreasing the overthinking, ruminating and worrying that the Me Center is famous for promulgating. One helpful way to think of the Assessment Center is as a sort of “brake” for the unhelpful parts of the Me Center.
In contrast, if you meditate on a regular basis, several positive things happen. First, the strong, tightly held connection between the Me Center (specifically the unhelpful vmPFC) and the bodily sensation/fear centers begins to break down.
As this connection withers, you will no longer assume that a bodily sensation or momentary feeling of fear means something is wrong with you or that you are the problem! This explains, in part, why anxiety decreases the more you meditate – it’s because the neural paths that link those upsetting sensations to the Me Center are decreasing. Said another way, your ability to ignore sensations of anxiety is enhanced as you begin to break that connection between the unhelpful parts of the Me Center and the bodily sensation/fear centers. As a result, you are more readily able to see those sensations for what they are and not respond as strongly to them (thanks to your strengthened Assessment Center).
Second, a heftier, healthier connection forms between the Assessment Center and bodily sensation/fear centers.
This means that when you experience a bodily sensation or something potentially dangerous or upsetting, you are able to look at it from a more rational perspective (rather than automatically reacting and assuming it has something to do with you).
For example, when you experience pain, rather than becoming anxious and assuming it means something is wrong with you, you can watch the pain rise and fall without becoming ensnared in a story about what it might mean.
Finally, an added bonus of meditating is that the connection between the helpful aspects of the Me Center (i.e. dorsomedial prefrontal cortex) – the part involved in processing information related to people we perceive as being not us – and the bodily sensation center – involved in empathy – becomes stronger.
This healthy connection enhances your capacity to understand where another person is coming from, especially those who you cannot intuitively understand because you think or perceive things differently from them (i.e., dissimilar others).
This increased connection explains why meditation enhances empathy – it helps us use the part of the brain that infers other people’s states of mind, their motivations, desires, dreams and so on, while simultaneously activating the part of the brain involved in the actual experience of empathy (insula).
The end result is that we are more able to put ourselves in another person’s shoes (especially those not us), thereby increasing our ability to feel empathy and compassion for everyone.
Essentially, the science “proves” what we know to be true from the actual experience of meditating.
What the data demonstrate is that meditation facilitates strengthening the Assessment Center, weakening the unhelpful aspects of the Me Center (that can cause you to take things personally), strengthening the helpful parts of the Me Center (involved with empathy and understanding others) and changing the connections to/from the bodily sensation/fear centers such that you experience sensations in a less reactive, more balanced and holistic way. In a very real way, you literally are changing your brain for the better when you meditate.
In the end, this means that you are able to see yourself and everyone around you from a clearer perspective, while simultaneously being more present, compassionate and empathetic with people no matter the situation. With time and practice, people do truly become calmer, have a greater capacity for empathy and find they tend to respond in a more balanced way to things, people or events in their lives.
However, to maintain your gains, you have to keep meditating. Why? Because the brain can very easily revert back to its old ways if you are not vigilant (I’m referencing the idea of neuroplasticity here). This means you have to keep meditating to ensure that the new neural pathways you worked so hard to form stay strong.
To me, this amazing brain science and the very real rewards gained from meditation combine to form a compelling argument for developing and/or maintaining a daily practice.
It definitely motivates me on those days I don’t “feel” sitting.
So, try to remind yourself that meditating every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, will keep those newly formed connections strong and those unhelpful ones of the past at bay.
Addendum: For those wanting to start a meditation practice or who might be experiencing emotional issues, memories, etc. when meditating, please seek out an experienced medtiation teacher.
I have received some comments from people stating they do not believe meditation works (which is ly true for some people) or that it could be harmful if done incorrectly.
Obviously, meditation has been very positive for me, but I have always worked with a meditation teacher or mentor and I would suggest you do the same, as a teacher can help you figure out what is right for you and guide you through any difficulties you may be having.
12 Little Things That Can Happen to Your Body After Just 15 Minutes of Meditation
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Less pain is on the list of benefits of meditation. Just ten minutes a day of mindfulness meditation may reduce the need for painkillers by improving pain tolerance and decreasing anxiety levels, according to new research Leeds Beckett University.
The study included 24 healthy university students who were randomly split into a control group and a meditation group. Participants were asked to put their hand in warm water for two minutes before removing it and placing it into ice water for as long as they could stand. They then either sat quietly for 10 minutes or meditated before doing it again.
Both groups performed similarly the first time around, but the participants in the meditation group saw a decrease in anxiety about pain and a higher pain threshold and pain tolerance on the second go.
“These results do show that a brief mindfulness meditation intervention can be of benefit in pain relief,” says Osama Tashani, PhD, Senior Research Fellow in Pain Studies at Leeds Beckett University in Leeds, UK, in a news release. Holding hands with your partner can also help quash pain.
When it comes to the health benefits of meditation, heart health is high on the list—follow this path to a happy, healthy heart.
Research Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, TM’s hub, showed that practicing TM reduced risk of death, heart attack, and stroke among African Americans with existing heart disease—a group at high-risk for bad outcomes.
These men and women’s were able to cut risk by close to 50 percent; they also lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading), when compared to their counterparts who received health education that did not include meditation.
TM is a very specific type of meditation that requires training by a certified teacher. Practitioners must sit comfortably and close their eyes for 20 minutes, twice a day, while repeating a personalized mantra. Cost of the class is a sliding scale, and financial aid is available.
“There is a huge body of research showing the benefits of TM on the heart and heart disease risk factors blood pressure,” says John Butler, a certified TM teacher at the TM Center in midtown Manhattan.
“We get really profound rest when we transcend through meditation, and this allows the body to rectify, heal, and normalize whatever is off,” he says. There can be dramatic results after just a few meditations.
“When we give our nervous system the rest it needs, it starts to deal with the imbalances such as blood pressure or anything else that is off track.”
Yes, meditation can help us get better sleep without any of the side effects associated with sleeping pills. “When we have insomnia or trouble sleeping, there is some imbalance in our circadian rhythms,” explains Butler.
Circadian rhythms tell our body that it is time to sleep or wake and are light and darkness over a 24-hour period.
“Modern technology with all of its lights and devices have caused our natural circadian rhythms to get way whack so even when we lay down and deeply need to rest, we can’t.”
Enter TM. “We get a deeper rest which allows our circadian rhythms to reset and become normalized,” he says. “Some people report that sleep improves within a few days of starting TM.” Think you are too busy to meditate? Think again. There are some super-easy ways to sneak it in your day.
Weight loss is one of the areas where research on the effects of meditation is not quite as robust, but anecdotally, the evidence is strong.
“A lot of students tell me that their nervous eating goes way and they become more in touch with their bodies and gravitate toward what is good for them and away from what is not when they start to practice TM,” Butler says.
There is some evidence that an increase in the stress hormone cortisol can sabotage weight loss methods. But “the fight or flight response that occurs when our bodies are primed for stress settles down and the restfulness kicks with TM,” he explains.
“This produces blood chemistry changes, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol can drop 30 to 40 when people start to practice TM. It is the opposite of the fight- or- flight response.” There are other natural ways to augment weight-loss efforts including inhaling or applying these seven essential oils.
More research is needed to draw definitive conclusions, but there is some evidence that regular meditation can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as cramping and diarrhea.
In a small pilot study the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, 48 adults with either condition participated in a nine-week program focused on stress reduction and other healthy behaviors that included relaxation training to be practiced at home for 15 to 20 minutes each day.
And it worked. They not only felt better and had fewer GI symptoms and less anxiety, but there was also marked positive changes in genes involved with their stomach conditions.
“Indeed, the relaxation response reduced the expression of a number of genes directly linked to the key inflammatory processes of IBD.
While the mechanisms behind IBS are less well-defined, they most ly involve stress response, which also could be improved by relaxation response practice, “says study researcher Towia Libermann, PhD, in a news release.
While there are plenty of home remedies to help you regain your inner calm, meditation appears particularly effective.
People with anxiety disorders who took a mindfulness meditation course showed a dramatic dip in stress hormones and inflammatory responses when exposed to a stressful situation, compared with their counterparts who took a stress management course that didn’t include meditation.
Mindfulness involves focusing on the here and now, rather than fretting about the future or dwelling on the past.
Stress was measured using a standard lab test—the Trier Social Stress Test—which assesses biochemical responses to the stress in blood or saliva that occur during a mock job interview followed by a math challenge performed before a panel of three judges. The meditators did better on the test after they took the course compared to how they fared before they learned mindfulness. These findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Meditation may reverse some of the reactions in our genes that cause depression and other illnesses, according to a review of 18 studies that included 846 participants and followed them for more than 11 years.
In a nutshell, a stressful event kick starts our body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response which in turn increases production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). NF-kB calls on genes to produce inflammation-causing proteins.
Inflammation is linked to a host of diseases and conditions including heart disease, certain cancers and psychiatric disorders depression. But, the study found, that people who practice mind-body interventions such as meditation or mindfulness exhibit a decrease in production of NF-kB and related inflammation markers.
For some of these reasons, Arcari offers daily drop-in meditations to people being treated for cancer at her hospital. “When we stop focusing on the infusions, tests and scans and really move our thinking mind, there is an innate sense of inner peace.”
Meditation may help us keep our thinking caps in prime shape as we age.
Risk of memory and cognitive problems tends to increase with advancing age and is largely marked by deterioration of the gray matter in the brain (that’s the part responsible for processing information), but meditation may help prevent this deterioration.
In a study of 100 people (half who had meditated for anywhere from four to 46 years and half who had never done so), high-resolution magnetic resonance brain scans showed that meditators had lost significantly less gray matter in numerous brain regions than non-meditators of the same age.
In fact, TM is now included in the Bredesen Protocol developed by Dr. Dale Bredesen, MD, professor of Neurology at UCLA to prevent and reverse the effects of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. There may be more you can do to stave off Alzheimer’s too including adopting the everyday habits you can easily incorporate into your routine.
Patience is a crucial skill for a calm and centered life. Check out all these reasons for keeping—and developing—your patience.
Some of us are better at waiting than others—especially when it’s for something that may be life-changing.
People who practice mindfulness tend to cope with such wait-and-see stress better than others and are more ly to maintain an optimistic mindset throughout, according to research in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
These benefits seem to be most pronounced among these who tend to be less optimistic about outcomes before they start to meditate.
Milan Ilic Photographer/shutterstock
Sure, getting loud and fired up is a great way to prepare for competition—check out these pump-up songs elite athletes use to get their psych on.
But quiet-time can work as well: Research shows that athletes who completed a six-session program mindfulness replete with recommendations to continue the practice at home were more ly to report being in the zone when on the field or court, rate their own performance as better, and also experience less sport-related anxiety.
These benefits of meditation lasted long after the mindfulness sessions were over and well into the athletic seasons. The program is now the basis of a new book called Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement: Mental Training for Athletes and Coaches.
This is one of the primary benefits of any form of meditation, says Patty Arcari, PhD, RN, program manager of meditation and mindfulness programs at the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“The brain has been called the master organ of the stress response,” she explains. “Meditation takes the focus away from our brain and causes us to bring attention to another point of focus so our mind doesn’t engage our body in stress physiology.
” This is true no matter what form of meditation that you practice, she says. The difference between the various techniques is what you focus on instead of your negative thoughts. “With transcendental meditation (TM), it’s a mantra.
With guided imagery, it is visualization and with deep breathing meditation, the focus is on your breath not your mind,” she says. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day is enough to take the edge off, but more is better, she adds. (Here are some other benefits of meditation you might not know about.
) Apps can help you develop a practice that fits into your life and lifestyle. Some such as Insight Timer are free, while others Headspace offer free trials, but will involve a paid subscription if you get hooked.
Addiction comes in many forms, from opioids to food—here’s how to find out if you’re a food addict. “Meditation techniques are effective in minimizing addictive behaviors,” says Doron Libshtein, the founder of The Mentors Channel, an online resource that allows visitors to trial various meditation or anti-stress programs before deciding which works best for them.
Meditation requires individuals to manage their negative thoughts and relax the body, which helps reduce the stress that often triggers addiction to any substance whether food, alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, he explains.
“For beginners with addiction, start by setting aside 15 to 20 minutes per day to follow your breath,” he says. “Try using four counts on your inhale and eight counts on your exhale,” he says.
“Your breath shouldn’t be strained in any way, so if you need to work up to eight counts, that’s just fine.” Libshtein also recommends a new wearable stress monitor and mobile app—the WellBe.
The bracelet measures your pulse and when it shoots up, indicating stress, you will receive a text message with salient advice on how to de-stress, which may take the bite a powerful craving.
Originally Published on sitename.comOriginally Published: September 12, 2017