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December 09, 2016

Hi everyone,

When I hear people talk about meditation, it can go one of two ways. Sometimes I grin to myself with the silent satisfaction of someone who’s privy to (and a beneficiary of) its many benefits. That’s when I’m on a roll with my daily sitting practice. But as an on-again, off-again meditator, I also sometimes get irritated: If knowing about meditation’s many benefits were enough to make us all sit still for 15 minutes every morning, we’d all do it, and we wouldn’t need any more convincing. But we don’t, and we do—so quit making us feel bad about it. Am I right?

Sometimes, though, a third thing happens: I’ll read something and it will make me think, “Oh, right. That’s why I do it.” And then it’s back onto my little meditation cushion I go. That happened this week when I read a fascinating piece about how breathing affects the mind—particularly, how when you inhale and exhale through your nose, it causes a “dramatic difference in areas of the brain related to emotional processing (the amygdala) and memory (the hippocampus).” This may in part explain some of meditation’s mental benefits, though it’s certainly not the last word on the matter.

Do you meditate? If so, how often and how do you stick with your practice?

As always, we want to hear from you at health@time.com.

Be well,

Siobhan O'Connor
TIME Executive Editor

P.S. TIME’s Mandy Oaklander wrote up a fascinating (and sort of gross) study this week linking pubic hair grooming to an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections. You can read it for yourself here.

P.P.S. If you or anyone you know is still on the fence about trying yoga, read this, about how it's effective at lowering blood pressure in people with borderline hypertension. As for why I like it? It’s really about the spiritual stuff for me, and it turns out I’m not alone. Another research study found that while most people come to yoga for the exercise, they stay for the mental and spiritual benefits.

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