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    Does Meditation Really Produce Health Benefits?

    Have you been curious about meditation, but ruled it out because it seemed like a waste of time? Studies show meditation delivers several health benefits; it may indeed be one of the best health bargains around, since its also free of cost. The following health benefits are all attributed to regular meditation practice.

    Meditation counteracts stress. The average American reports feeling stressed much of the time, and yet meditation is available to all. Even as little as fifteen minutes of meditation will lower your body’s level of cortisol. Whats so bad about cortisol? Your body produces cortisol as part of its fight or flight response, but too much of this hormone can cause a host of negative health problems.

    Meditation protects your heart. When you practice meditation, your blood pressure naturally lowers and your heart rates slows. It is also believed to bolster your body’s ability to heal, which is why the Mayo Clinic recommended daily meditation for its cancer patients and provides classes on how to meditate.

    Meditation sharpens the mind and makes you feel good. When studied, monks who meditated regularly were found to have more activity between neurons and synapses than those who did not meditate. The monks also had larger hippocampuses, the piece of your brain that makes you feel good. In general, people who practice meditation see improvement in mental focus.

    How can you start a meditation practice? Establish a time and place for meditating each day; you may want to start out with something reachable, like fifteen minutes a day. Find a quiet place, set a timer, sit comfortably, and close your eyes. Choose one word; try to focus on this one word and nothing else. Your mind will wander, but keep reigning it in, releasing the distracting thoughts and focusing on that one word. Do not move or open your eyes until your timer goes off. Add minutes to your meditation sessions until you find the perfect session length to meet your needs.

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