In just half an hour, by focusing on your breathing, you can start to relax and melt away your cares.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University investigated how effective mindfulness meditation can be in countering the body's stress response. For that type of meditation, you need a laser-like focus on your breathing, and, some advocates say that as your body fills up with air, your muscles contract. That helps you to push out other distractions -- like deadlines or your to-do list -- and start to relax.
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They randomly assigned 66 volunteers to either participate in mindful meditation for 25 minutes for three days, or go through a cognitive training program in which they learned how to analyze poetry passages. The people who meditated reported less stress, and even showed that they were better at coping with stress compared to those who relied on their behavior training.
The new study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, is not the first to show the positive effects of mediation. An analysis from February showed that Transcendental Meditation (TM)--a 20 minute mediation that simply requires closing your eyes and quieting down outside thoughts -- sometimes by repeating a mantra -- significantly lowered teacher stress and burnout. Fans of TM include chef Mario Batali, music mogul Russell Brand, Paul McCartney, Arianna Huffington, and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Now it looks as if there's some promising science to back them up.