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How Meditation Works

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/06/how-meditation-works/277275/

theatlantic.com

How Meditation Works
Mindfulness meditation is having a moment in the West, and with it some compelling reasons to understand and try it. Mindfulness meditation. Chances are that you've either heard or seen (or rolled your eyes at) these words in recent months, as studies, celebrity endorsements, and even apps continue to make headlines.

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Mindfulness meditation

It is based on Buddhist traditions and it's described as "the non-judgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment."

Sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed, focusing on yo...

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How meditation works

It  works through a combination of several distinct mechanisms:
  • Attention regulation. Focused attention for an extended period of time.
  • Body awareness. Paying attenti...

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Meditation fosters mindfulness

“[Meditation] is not about clearing the mind; it’s about focusing on one thing. When the mind wanders, the meditation isn’t a failure. Our brain is like a wayward puppy, out of control. Catching it and putting it back to the object of focus is the mediation.” -- Brooks, director of the Austin Psychology and Assessment Center

Incorporate meditation in your life

  • Walking meditation. “We weren’t meant to sit in cubicles all day and when we disconnect from nature, we suffer a lot of stress.”
  • Red light meditation. While stopped at a red light, turn off your radio and focus on deep breaths.
  • Running/cycling meditation. If you run or bike, leave your headphones at home and focus on the experience.
  • Eating/drinking meditation. As you eat or drink, focus on the various flavors, textures, and sensations of the particular food or drink.
  • Waiting meditation. While in line, observe your breath or surroundings.
  • Task-related meditation. For example, washing your hands, folding laundry, taking a shower, washing dishes, or brushing your teeth can serve as mini-meditations if you focus on the experience and stop your mind from wandering.

Mindfulness

... is a collection of practices aimed at helping us to cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment.

Meditation sharpens your attention

Meditation helps to counter our tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve attention.

Larger randomized controlled trials are still needed to understand how meditation might work with other treatments to help people manage attention-deficit disorders.

Consistent meditation

Long-term, consistent meditation mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more sustainable way.

  • Practicing meditation reduces the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors.
  • Mindfulness practices help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. 

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