Just 15 minutes of meditation a day can improve your mental well-being.
Want to improve your health in as little as 15 minutes a day without doing anything? Give some thought to meditation. Doing nothing's actually the whole point of it. Training your mind not to do anything seems paradoxically to do quite a lot. Not only does it help reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones, it seems to change the brain in ways that make you smarter.
Although meditation's often used as a kind of worship or prayer, it's not necessarily a religious practice. You don't need to adopt a lotus position or follow any particular beliefs. It's really an exercise to focus your attention.
By focusing on an image, a sound, or your breath, the goal is to trigger a state of mental stillness, where you're alert and aware yet free of active thoughts.
When people report achieving this state of being, they not only feel good, their brainwave patterns change in consistent ways.
Just as lifting weights increases muscle strength, meditation is a type of work-out for the mind. By exercising the parts of the brain that deal with attention, it seems you can enhance your performance in tasks like decision making and learning that rely on attention.
One study showed people taught to meditate, performed up to 10 per cent better in a standard test of mental sharpness. That was after just one or two practice sessions. Their results were on par with people who'd had their brainpower boosted by a 40-minute nap.
There's even evidence the practice can reshape the brain. With people who meditate just 40 minutes a day showing thickening of the parts of the brain responsible for attention and sensory processing.
But many regular meditators say they feel benefits from as little as 15 minutes a day.
So not just inner peace and contentment but a bit of extra brain power to boot! Who'd have thought a little time out could achieve so much?
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