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Why meditation makes you happier healthier successful and how to get started

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If you are like most people, you’re interested in self-improvement and happiness. Maybe you are interested in improving your physical exercise program, learning a new language, learning to play an instrument, improving your income, developing your spiritual self, or simply feeling happier and more content every day. Whatever area of self-improvement you are working on or thinking about, practicing mindfulness meditation can accelerate your success and help you achieve your goals.

Why meditation makes you happier healthier successful and how to get started

Be Happier and Healthier With Mindfulness Meditation

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a simple concept with far reaching results. It is related to meditation, but mindfulness is also something distinct in itself.

Mindfulness involves repeatedly bringing your attention and awareness to the present moment, simultaneously accepting and releasing whatever thoughts are occurring in your mind at that time. Mindfulness is something you strive for when meditating, but meditation can also involve visualization, chanting, and contemplation of compassion or other ideals. In practicing mindfulness, you are simply focusing your attention on sensory experiences happening in the present and letting go of internal dialog and chatter without judging it.

You can engage in mindfulness at any time and place, and practicing mindfulness can move from a regular, disciplined activity you do in structured settings to a life encompassing attitude and outlook.

How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Life

There is science to back up the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Evidence from many published research studies show that focusing the mind on present sensory experience while being conscious of the breath, relaxes the body and the mind, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves performance in other areas when practiced over time. A recent study even found that participants who engaged in mindfulness practice had better blood glucose levels, and mindfulness meditation has been shown to be helpful for people recovering from PTSD and the effects of trauma from war, natural disaster, and abuse.

Practicing mindfulness can also have consequences in a person’s emotional life. By repeatedly and gently bringing awareness to the present, it becomes easier to open oneself to difficult emotions and the pain of others while avoiding judgement of self and others. This is because the practitioner of mindfulness has daily experience in opening themselves to the present without judgement, and this attitude can then transfer to other moments and situations.

Mindfulness is an Attitude and a Practice

Practicing mindfulness in structured sessions in a conscious and regular way helps establish the mindfulness attitude in everyday consciousness. After that, mindfulness can expand from a discrete practice to a general attitude and default mental setting.

Practicing mindfulness involves finding a time and place to sit down each day and focus consciously on bringing awareness to the present. Notice your thoughts and feelings without judgment and let them go without becoming distracted by them. Then return to your sensory awareness in the present.

Mindfulness is essential to sitting, walking, and other types of meditation practice, but it is something you can also do at almost any moment you are awake. Mindfulness is an especially useful tool for calming yourself down in times of stress or for relaxing and unwinding after a busy day.

How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Starting your mindfulness practice with short daily sessions can make it easier to keep going. Even sessions of as little as 10 minutes daily can bring measurable benefit. If you are new to meditation type practice, setting a timer can help you keep your mind on mindfulness and off of the clock. Listening to meditation music is another way of measuring time and giving yourself an engaging sensory experience to fill your awareness.

It is helpful to start by closing your eyes to reduce the amount of stimulus going into your nervous system. Then, breathe deeply, allowing the breath to rise from the solar plexus area of your abdomen.

Keep your shoulders relaxed and relatively still while you breathe from your center, letting your belly rise and fall as you do. This type of breathing relaxes the vegus nerve, a long nerve involved in many functions of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, controlling heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and other vital physiological functions. Belly breathing is a bit like giving the vegus nerve a massage, causing it to help relax your entire body.

As you become relaxed, notice the sounds, smells, and textures around you. Focus on one object or sensation at a time, allowing the sensory information to fill your mind and awareness. It can also be fun to eat a very small amount of a flavorful food, like a single raisin, and allow your senses to become fully occupied with the sensations of taste. Once you have practiced mindfulness for a while, you may want to try eating an entire meal while keeping your focus on the tastes, textures, aromas, and other sensations of eating. Similarly, you can take a walk, ride a bike, or engage in any other activity while practicing mindfulness.

With your eyes open, allow your mind to see and notice the details of your surroundings without getting involved in any thoughts about what you see. When you do find your mind wandering to thoughts, feelings, or judgements – and this always happens – breathe deeply and refocus on a sensation in the present, allowing the thoughts to dissolve.

One way of keeping the mind on the present is to look for something new you have never seen, heard, or felt before. It could be a small detail in the plaster on the wall, the sound of birds outside, the hum of a refrigerator, or the feeling of the carpet under your feet.

For many people, the practice of mindfulness can be enhanced by focusing successively on parts of the body, starting with the soles of the feet, then the ankles, calves, and so on, simply noticing the sensations in each part of the body in turn and then moving on.

Bringing Mindfulness to Everyday Life

The biggest rewards of learning the techniques of mindfulness are in the effects it has on everyday life.

As you progress in developing your abilities to stay focused in the present, it becomes easier to handle difficult situations, easier to be emotionally available and present for the benefit of others, and easier to explore your own feelings and resolve internal conflicts.

Research shows that practicing mindfulness can also reduce blood pressure, deepen sleep, improve sexual performance, increase productivity, and improve athletic performance. Overall, engaging in mindfulness makes you happier and healthier. And, the techniques of mindfulness are simple, powerful, and free.

I used to be so, so resistant toward meditation. Honestly, I would have rather gotten a root canal done than sit in silence for an extended period of time, alone with my thoughts. *Shudders*. Flash forward a few years, and meditation is one of the few things that keeps me sane. If you’ve ever experienced the healing powers of mindfulness yourself, you can probably attest to the fact that just a bit of meditation makes you happy, when practiced consistently.

Meditation has been defined in many ways by many people, but when it comes down to it, the practice simply involves turning inwards and being able to observe all of your thoughts and bodily sensations, without judgment.

Engaging in a daily meditation practice, whether it be for a quick five minutes in the morning or a lengthier hour in the evening, does incredible things for the human mind, such as relieving built up anxiety, quieting mental chatter, improving focus, and increasing self-esteem and feelings of confidence.

The benefits of mindfulness are becoming more and more widely realized and appreciated.

To understand how including meditation into your daily routine can truly affect your happiness and joy towards life it helps to understand a psychological phenomenon called your “happiness set point.”

According to the American Psychological Association, in 1978, a team of psychologists from Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts published a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that revealed that lottery winners actually weren’t all that much happier than hospital patients suffering from spinal cord injuries.

If you’re like, OK what the actual f*ck, that right there is some BS, allow the “happiness set point” theory to enlighten you. The scientists discovered that the amount of happiness you have within you is based on genetics. Happier people naturally have more activity in the front portion of the brain. So, even when unfortunate, stressful, or life altering events happen, their brain chemistry will shift back toward their innately joyful nature within a few months.

Meditation can actually help rewire your brain.

According to Psychology Today, meditation is the strongest mental practice that has the power to reset your happiness set point, thus turning you into a more joyful person and literally rewiring major areas in your brain.

Neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s studies show that maintaining a consistent meditation practice leads to a thickening in a few major areas of the brain, which in turn increases your ability to cope with uncomfortable and difficult situations and stressful occurrences that life throws at you. If, according to the happiness set point theory, you’re naturally more predisposed to being overly worried or stressed out, meditating on the reg can quiet those overactive areas of your brain, and thicken the areas responsible for joy and pleasure.

According to MindBodyGreen, Lazar’s studies also show that meditation shrinks the portion of your brain called the “amygdala.” This is the section of your mind which controls fearfulness and anxiety, so the smaller that bad boy is, the happier you’ll be as a whole.

Yet another study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health tested 30 medical students to measure their cortisol levels before meditation. Cortisol is the hormone in your body responsible for stress, and too much of it can lead to sleep trouble, anxiety, and mood swings (AKA way less happiness, friends). Well, the study revealed that after just four days of mindful meditation, the students’ cortisol levels decreased significantly. Just four days, people.

The bottom line is: Meditation has the power to instill a deep sense of calm and serenity in the innermost part of your being (and brain). With a daily practice, it doesn’t even matter if you believe in the happiness set point or not. You’ll be able to communicate better in your relationships, better cope with tricky curveballs life throws your way, and have a deeper sense of self-worth and understanding of your thoughts and tendencies.

Now that’s a prescription for some major joyfulness right there. Happy meditating!

Studies continually demonstrate why meditation is good for us.

Posted September 15, 2013

Why meditation makes you happier healthier successful and how to get started

Meditation is probably as old as human civilization itself. While the test of time could be proof positive demonstrating the benefits of meditation, scientific study has yielded evidence that meditation is good for us as well. In this blog post, I’ll summarize widely publicized research about meditation.

Dr. Herbert Benson: Meditation Research Pioneer

In the late 1960s, Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School conducted scientific studies to test the health benefits of meditation. (As an aside, his findings motivated me to begin my own meditation practice.) He determined that meditation could be used successfully in treating physiological problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and migraine headaches, as well as autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. As they meditated, he found that his test subjects’ heartbeats and breathing had slowed, their blood lactate levels decreased, and their brains had increased in alpha activity, which is a sign of relaxation. Dr. Benson also found that meditation was helpful in stopping or slowing obsessive thinking, anxiety, depression, and hostility.

Resetting the Set Point

In the “Set Point Study,” scientists found that each of us has a natural “set point” in our brains for both good and bad emotions. The study found that people accustomed to being happy have more activity in the front portion of their frontal lobes. Meanwhile, the right side is more active in people who worry or are anxious. Even when major events occur in a person’s life, such as winning the lottery, scientists have found that brain chemistry shifts back to its normal set point within about six months.

One of the most dramatic examples of what can be called “resetting the set point” was a study done with people who had suffered paralysis from spinal cord injuries. Although they could no longer walk and often suffered from depression in the short run, within six months of the accident, these individuals had returned to their normal mental set points and their original state of happiness. In other words, no matter what happens in a person’s life, the shift back to the set point inevitably takes place.

The good news is that you CAN change your set point through meditation. One study demonstrated that after only eight weeks of meditating for approximately one hour a day, six days a week, test subjects reported that they had become happier. Follow-up tests showed that these individuals’ set points had changed — to the extent that their normal level of mental happiness had been raised. In addition, they had become better at picking up emotional cues from others, and they reported developing more empathy towards others’ emotions. On the physical level, researchers found that the meditators’ immune system responses had improved.

MRIs and Meditation

In a recent UCLA study, researchers used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of a group of subjects who were longtime meditators. They found that these individuals’ brains were larger than their non-meditating counterparts. Another study found that aging people who meditate regularly don’t lose their gray matter as fast as non-meditators. Apparently, the meditators’ brains have noticeably thicker tissue in the prefrontal cortex, which is the region of the brain responsible for attention and control.

Imagine the implications of these discoveries! Not only can meditation prevent brain cells from dying, which typically happens as we age, but it can also boost a person’s brain size in several crucial regions. Furthermore, researchers have concluded that meditation can actually make a person more intelligent. Evidence also demonstrates that people who meditate regularly are able to focus more deeply and deal with stress better than non-meditators.

Science confirms what longtime meditators have known all along: A consistent meditative practice decreases stress and increases well-being.

New research shows that meditation boosts your health, happiness, and success.

Why meditation makes you happier healthier successful and how to get started

I started meditating soon after 9/11. I was living in Manhattan, an already chaotic place, at an extremely chaotic time. I realized I had no control over my external environment. But the one place I did have a say over was my mind, through meditation.

When I started meditating, I did not realize it would also make me healthier, happier, and more successful. Having witnessed the benefits, I devoted my Ph.D. research at Stanford to studying the impact of meditation. I saw people from diverse backgrounds, from college students to combat veterans, benefit. In the last 10 years, hundreds of studies have been released.

Here are 20 scientifically-validated reasons you might want to get on the bandwagon today:

It boosts your health.

1. Increases immune function (see here and here)

2. Decreases pain (see here)

3. Decreases inflammation at the cellular level (see here and here)

It boosts your happiness.

4. Increases positive emotion (see here and here)

6. Decreases anxiety (see here and here)

7. Decreases stress (see here and here)

It boosts your social life.

Think meditation is a solitary activity? It may be (unless you meditate in a group, which many do!), but it actually increases your sense of connection to others:

8. Increases social connection and emotional intelligence (see here and—by yours truly—here)

9. Makes you more compassionate (see here and here)

10. Makes you feel less lonely

It boosts your self-control.

11. Improves your ability to regulate your emotions (see here). (Ever flown off the handle or not been able to quiet your mind? Here’s the key.)

12. Improves your ability to introspect (see here and, for why this is crucial, see this post)

It changes your brain (for the better).

13. Increases grey matter (see here)

14. Increases volume in areas related to emotion regulation, positive emotions, and self-control (see here and here)

15. Increases cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention (see here)

It improves your productivity (yup, by doing nothing).

16. Increases your focus and attention (see here and here and here and here)

17. Improves your ability to multitask (see here)

18. Improves your memory (see here)

19. Improves your ability to be creative and think outside the box (see research by J. Schooler)

It makes you wise(r).

20. It gives you perspective.

By observing your mind, you realize you don’t have to be a slave to it. You realize it throws tantrums, gets grumpy, jealous, happy, and sad, but that it doesn’t have to run you. Meditation is quite simply mental hygiene: Clear out the junk, tune your talents, and get in touch with yourself.

Think about it, you shower every day and clean your body, but have you ever showered your mind? As a consequence, you’ll feel more clear and see things with greater perspective. “The quality of our life depends on the quality of our mind,” writes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We can’t control what happens on the outside but we do have a say over the quality of our mind. No matter what’s going on, if your mind is OK, everything is OK. Right now.

It keeps you real

Once you get to know your mind, you start to own your stuff and become more authentic, maybe even humble. You realize the stories and soap operas your mind puts you through, and you gain some perspective on them. You realize most of us are caught up in a mind-drama and become more compassionate towards others.

And. the more you meditate, the more you seem to benefit, research studies such as this one suggest.

Myths About Meditation

  • Having an empty mind—nope, in fact, when you start meditating, you’ll find it’s quite the opposite
  • Sitting in lotus position—nope, you can sit on the couch (just don’t lie down, you’ll fall asleep)
  • Sitting for an hour a day—nope, small doses work just fine, (see here and—by yours truly—here)
  • Chanting in a language I don’t understand—nope, not unless that floats your boat
  • Buddhist, Hindu, or religious—nope, not unless you make it so
  • Weird—what’s so weird about sitting and breathing? Besides, U.S. congressmen, NFL football leagues, and the U.S. Marine Corps are doing it, so how weird can it be?
  • Wearing robes—what?

“I can’t meditate” because.

  • I can’t clear my mind—no worries, while you’re sitting there, you’ll experience the noisy chaos of a wound-up mind that’s unwinding: tons of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Don’t worry about how you feel during, notice how you feel after and throughout the rest of the day.
  • I can’t sit still—that’s OK, just sit comfortably; fidget if you need to
  • I get anxious—that’s also normal, all the junk’s coming up, learn some breathing practices to calm yourself down, exercise or do yoga before meditating
  • I hate sitting still—that’s fine, then go for a walk without your earphones, phone, etc; or start with yoga; or do breathing exercises… give yourself time to just “be” without constantly “doing” something
  • I tried and I hated it—there’s not just one kind of meditation, there’s a whole menu out there; look for the shoe that fits: mindfulness, Transcendental, compassion, mantra, Vipassana, Art of Living breathing practices, yoga Nidra, yoga, insight, loving-kindness, tai chi, etc.
  • I don’t have time—if you have time to read an article about meditation all the way through, you have time to meditate. Think of all those minutes you waste every day on the internet or otherwise, you can definitely fit in 20 minutes here or there to give your life a boost! Gandhi is quoted as saying, “I’m so busy today, that. I’m going to meditate for 2 hours instead of 1.”

New research shows that meditation boosts your health, happiness, and success.

Why meditation makes you happier healthier successful and how to get started

I started meditating soon after 9/11. I was living in Manhattan, an already chaotic place, at an extremely chaotic time. I realized I had no control over my external environment. But the one place I did have a say over was my mind, through meditation.

When I started meditating, I did not realize it would also make me healthier, happier, and more successful. Having witnessed the benefits, I devoted my Ph.D. research at Stanford to studying the impact of meditation. I saw people from diverse backgrounds, from college students to combat veterans, benefit. In the last 10 years, hundreds of studies have been released.

Here are 20 scientifically-validated reasons you might want to get on the bandwagon today:

It boosts your health.

1. Increases immune function (see here and here)

2. Decreases pain (see here)

3. Decreases inflammation at the cellular level (see here and here)

It boosts your happiness.

4. Increases positive emotion (see here and here)

6. Decreases anxiety (see here and here)

7. Decreases stress (see here and here)

It boosts your social life.

Think meditation is a solitary activity? It may be (unless you meditate in a group, which many do!), but it actually increases your sense of connection to others:

8. Increases social connection and emotional intelligence (see here and—by yours truly—here)

9. Makes you more compassionate (see here and here)

10. Makes you feel less lonely

It boosts your self-control.

11. Improves your ability to regulate your emotions (see here). (Ever flown off the handle or not been able to quiet your mind? Here’s the key.)

12. Improves your ability to introspect (see here and, for why this is crucial, see this post)

It changes your brain (for the better).

13. Increases grey matter (see here)

14. Increases volume in areas related to emotion regulation, positive emotions, and self-control (see here and here)

15. Increases cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention (see here)

It improves your productivity (yup, by doing nothing).

16. Increases your focus and attention (see here and here and here and here)

17. Improves your ability to multitask (see here)

18. Improves your memory (see here)

19. Improves your ability to be creative and think outside the box (see research by J. Schooler)

It makes you wise(r).

20. It gives you perspective.

By observing your mind, you realize you don’t have to be a slave to it. You realize it throws tantrums, gets grumpy, jealous, happy, and sad, but that it doesn’t have to run you. Meditation is quite simply mental hygiene: Clear out the junk, tune your talents, and get in touch with yourself.

Think about it, you shower every day and clean your body, but have you ever showered your mind? As a consequence, you’ll feel more clear and see things with greater perspective. “The quality of our life depends on the quality of our mind,” writes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We can’t control what happens on the outside but we do have a say over the quality of our mind. No matter what’s going on, if your mind is OK, everything is OK. Right now.

It keeps you real

Once you get to know your mind, you start to own your stuff and become more authentic, maybe even humble. You realize the stories and soap operas your mind puts you through, and you gain some perspective on them. You realize most of us are caught up in a mind-drama and become more compassionate towards others.

And. the more you meditate, the more you seem to benefit, research studies such as this one suggest.

Myths About Meditation

  • Having an empty mind—nope, in fact, when you start meditating, you’ll find it’s quite the opposite
  • Sitting in lotus position—nope, you can sit on the couch (just don’t lie down, you’ll fall asleep)
  • Sitting for an hour a day—nope, small doses work just fine, (see here and—by yours truly—here)
  • Chanting in a language I don’t understand—nope, not unless that floats your boat
  • Buddhist, Hindu, or religious—nope, not unless you make it so
  • Weird—what’s so weird about sitting and breathing? Besides, U.S. congressmen, NFL football leagues, and the U.S. Marine Corps are doing it, so how weird can it be?
  • Wearing robes—what?

“I can’t meditate” because.

  • I can’t clear my mind—no worries, while you’re sitting there, you’ll experience the noisy chaos of a wound-up mind that’s unwinding: tons of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Don’t worry about how you feel during, notice how you feel after and throughout the rest of the day.
  • I can’t sit still—that’s OK, just sit comfortably; fidget if you need to
  • I get anxious—that’s also normal, all the junk’s coming up, learn some breathing practices to calm yourself down, exercise or do yoga before meditating
  • I hate sitting still—that’s fine, then go for a walk without your earphones, phone, etc; or start with yoga; or do breathing exercises… give yourself time to just “be” without constantly “doing” something
  • I tried and I hated it—there’s not just one kind of meditation, there’s a whole menu out there; look for the shoe that fits: mindfulness, Transcendental, compassion, mantra, Vipassana, Art of Living breathing practices, yoga Nidra, yoga, insight, loving-kindness, tai chi, etc.
  • I don’t have time—if you have time to read an article about meditation all the way through, you have time to meditate. Think of all those minutes you waste every day on the internet or otherwise, you can definitely fit in 20 minutes here or there to give your life a boost! Gandhi is quoted as saying, “I’m so busy today, that. I’m going to meditate for 2 hours instead of 1.”

Why meditation makes you happier healthier successful and how to get started

May 18, 2018 · 2 min read

Why meditation makes you happier healthier successful and how to get started

A few months ago I discovered meditation and started meditating regularly. I wake up, and before I start my day, I meditate for 10 minutes. If I don’t get the chance to do it in the morning, I make sure I meditate before going to bed.

That little routine in this small period of time changed my life for the better in ways I didn’t really expect. I would even go so far as saying I believe that meditating has now become my own religious ritual.

To meditate me a ns to do a “mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness”.

In meditation, the mind is clear, calm, focused. You are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you. You kind of just, are. The feeling is amazing and it really allows you to connect with your true self like nothing else.

– Guided (for example, including pre-made recording)

– Mantra, or transcendental meditation (choose a word or phrase, repeat it to yourself)

– Mindful (make yourself aware of your surroundings)

– Yoga or tai chi (perform a slow series of varying postures while focusing on them and breathing deeply)

– Deep breathing (deep breaths from the diaphragm)

– Biofeedback (therapist teaches you how to reduce the stress)

Your health increases – meditation boosts your immune function and decreases inflammation at the cellular level.

You become happier – it decreases depression, anxiety, and stress.

You get a greater sense of connection to others.

Your gain ability to regulate your emotions better.

You gain clarity.

You become calmer, more focused, productive and creative.

And get this: meditation actually CHANGES YOUR BRAIN!

It increases grey matter, as well as volume in areas related to paying attention, emotion regulation, positive emotions & self-control.

The more you meditate, the benefits become greater and greater.

You can meditate just about anywhere, as long as you find this place peaceful and nondistracting. I use meditation app called Headspace. It helps me set the right tone for the day ahead.

You can do it whenever it feels right for you. If you are a complete beginner, try guided meditation with the help of an app, or some audio (video) recording. And, if you already meditate, keep up the good work ;).

Also, I would just like to point out one thing. Once you learn more about your mind – you realize that you control your thoughts. It is no more the other way around. By meditating regularly, you do the same thing with your mind that you do with your body when you workout daily. It becomes stronger and healthier.

Meditation . I remember the first time I heard a speaker mention it at a conference I attended a few years ago. I immediately thought of every stereotype in the book. It wasn’t until after my friend insisted I try it and I actually took him up on the offer that I soon realized meditation isn’t just for “super spiritual people.” There’s a reason behind why it’s becoming mainstream.

Forty-two percent of millennials have meditated at least once in the past year, while meditation is nearly a $1B industry. So why is it becoming so popular?

The American Psychological Association reports that millennials are the most stressed out generation in history. With so much pressure to perform at work or make an impact on the world we often end the day carrying a heavy load with us.

Mindfulness and awareness, benefits reported from meditation, offer us the ability to resolve stress from the work day before it negatively impacts our life, health and relationships.

Below, check out seven powerful ways meditation can restore a healthier balance to your work and life. According to experts , you can start experiencing these benefits with as little as ten minutes of meditation a day.

1. It Reduces Your Stress Levels. Millennials average at a 5.4 out of 10 on the stress scale, while 3.6 is considered healthy. If you suffer from stress overload, you aren’t alone—and fortunately, there’s something you can do about it.

Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says , “People with anxiety have problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power. But you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. You might think, ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought.”

Johns Hopkins University concludes that just 30 minutes of meditation a day can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.

2. It Promotes Healthier Eating. 41% of millennials say that stress makes them overeat, particularly filling up on junk foods . Besides being a remedy for stress, meditation directly promotes mindfulness around eating and is linked to weight loss . TIME says mindfulness sharpens a person’s ability to recognize hunger cues and ignore cravings for unhealthy foods.

3. It Can Help You Achieve Your Goals. Have you noticed that many of the world’s most successful people meditate? Influential figures like Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Russell Brand, Ellen DeGeneres, and Lady Gaga have been public about their meditation practices.

Meditation could equal success because of its link to goal-setting. The Oxford Mindfulness Centre found that after just eight weeks of daily meditating, study participants were able to identify more specific life goals than before, and were more likely to achieve those goals than a control group.

4. It Improves Your Productivity. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a “magic pill” that helped us get more done in a day, with a fraction of the effort? According to science, meditation could be that pill. Studies show that regular meditation supports higher functioning of attention and focus , improved memory recall, and more efficient multitasking , all of which are essential to productivity.

5. It Can Make You More Compassionate. In one study, a team of researchers from Northeastern University and Harvard University found that participants exposed to meditation sessions were 50% more disposed to help a person in distress while others stood by. A researcher said, “Meditation made people more willing to act virtuous—to help another who was

6. It Can Lower Your Health Bill. In the American Journal of Health Promotion, a five-year study compared the annual physician costs of meditators versus non-meditators. At the end of the study, the meditators reduced their physician costs by a cumulative 70%, as well as showed reduced rates of illness in all disease categories. With the average annual cost for health care at $10,345 per person, meditation could translate to real savings.

7. It Can Make You Happier. Why is it that some people just seem to be “happier people” than others? And is there anything we can do about it? According to scientists , we each have a “set point” of happiness that remains relatively stable throughout our lives. Even after experiencing a significant loss or trauma, our set point eventually returns to normal. But research shows that meditation can increase our set point of happiness—in one study, after just eight weeks of meditating for an hour a day, participants saw an increase in their “set” happiness levels.

Enjoyed this post? Check out more of my tools for creating a life by your own design.

When it comes to being a good friend, most of us know what to do. If we see someone we love struggling, we’re kind, empathetic and supportive. If a dear friend were to be fired from a job, passed up for a promotion, dumped by a spouse or going through a difficult time, no doubt we’d be there to listen. We’d offer wise words to boost their spirits.

Yet, when it comes to befriending ourselves, most of us are downright evil.

When we make a mistake, we say nasty things to ourselves that we’d never say to a stranger, let alone a close friend. We berate ourselves for small failings and ruminate on our shortcomings. Almost without realizing it, we become real jerks to ourselves. In fact, research shows that if people followed the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the majority of folks wouldn’t have friends. What’s more, the way we criticize and judge ourselves is actually damaging to our mental health — it leads to depression, anxiety, and poor performance at work. The antidote, scientists say, is practicing self-compassion.

“There are hundreds of studies that show the health benefits of self compassion,” says Kristin Neff, an associate professor and pioneer in the field of self compassion at the University of Texas at Austin. “Self compassion is linked to less anxiety, less stress, less depression, greater happiness, and greater coping skills.”

The negativity bias

So why is it that we’re much harder on ourselves than we are with others? Turns out, human beings are hardwired for negativity. The negativity bias allows us to perceive danger and threat more easily. This bias was essential to our survival when we were trying to steer clear of saber tooth tigers. But in modern times, the threats we perceive exist largely in our minds. An offhand comment from your boss or a sideways glance from your co-worker could feel like a saber tooth tiger lying in wait but, more likely, it’s just your mind playing tricks on you. So instead of directing our energy to fight off the tiger, we fight ourselves. We direct our aggression inward. Essentially, we become our own worst enemies.

Blocks to self compassion

When most people hear the words “self-compassion”, their eyes tend to glaze over; the term feels fuzzy and “soft,” says Standford psychologist Emma Seppälä, the science director of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

Self compassion, Seppälä says in this interview, “allows you to be successful without sabotaging yourself.”

Research shows that one of the biggest blocks that gets in the way of people being self-compassionate is the very firm belief that compassion will undermine their motivation. Many people worry they won’t be successful, or that they won’t reach their goals if they’re kind to themselves.

“In fact,” says Neff, “Research shows that it’s just the opposite.

Typically, people motivate themselves by using harsh self criticism. But the research shows that when people are really hard on themselves (either because they made a mistake or fell short) they become afraid of failure.

“We start developing performance anxiety and we don’t do as well, so we fail more,” Neff says. “Then we lose confidence and we tend to give up.”

In other words, people who beat themselves get trapped in a negative feedback loop. On the other hand, people who recognize they’re going to make mistakes and cut themselves some slack, develop resiliency.

“People who are more self compassionate, when they do fail, they pick themselves up and try again. It’s not the end of the world,” Neff says. “They maintain their self confidence because they don’t slam themselves with self criticism.”

As a result, they are less likely to give up and more likely to keep trying until they reach their goals.

Developing self-compassion

In scientific terms, self compassion is defined as the ability to treat yourself with the same kindness, care and support as you would a loved one or close friend who’s struggling.

With a little practice, anyone can learn to be more self-compassionate, Neff says.

For starters, give yourself permission to treat yourself with the same care as you would a loved or friend. A simple acknowledgement that you are worthy of support and compassion goes a long way to breaking the bad habit of criticism and negative self talk.

Then, be mindful of the words you say to yourself. When you make a mistake or let someone down, do you immediately tell yourself you’re an idiot? Or can you acknowledge the error and promise to do better next time? Can you recognize that you’re human and that all humans makes mistakes?

Lastly, what tone do you use when you talk to yourself. Is it harsh or disparaging? Do you silently scream at yourself when something goes wrong? Do you berate yourself? If you wouldn’t use that tone with a friend or child, why would you use it with yourself?

As with all skills you wish to master, self compassion requires practice. The more you do it, the better (and kinder) you get.

Sadhguru looks at how the purpose of meditation is not just to make one ecstatic , it is to create a “space” between you and what is your body and mind. Once this happens, this is the end of suffering.

Editor’s Note: Subscribe to the official Sadhguru YouTube channel to watch new videos every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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