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Why Meditation Makes You Happier, Healthier and More Successful and How To Get Started

Why Meditation Makes You Happier, Healthier and More Successful and How To Get Started

The benefits of meditation have been talked about for years around mental health, boosted immunity, vitality and creativity. Sounds too good to be true but the good news is science is now supporting that improved well-being, enhanced creativity and a rewired brain are just some of the benefits of daily meditation practice. So what exactly is modern science saying about this ancient wisdom?

The Benefits of Meditation

Meditation reduces anxiety at a brainwave level. A team of researchers at the University of Zagreb in Croatia have published a study on the impact of meditation on brain waves. The EEG brainwave patterns were measured as an indicator of peace. Results confirmed that the effects of transcendental meditation on EEG brainwave patterns and anxiety suggested that meditation is helpful in treating different types of anxiety disorders.

Creativity is enhanced in meditators. In another study published in the Creativity Research Journal it was found that after meditation when participants were given the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking they showed higher than average results for creativity and successful problem solving.

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Job burnout is happen less when you meditate. In a third study researchers looked at job burnout, a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, and found significant reduction in a group who had been meditating versus the control group. This was a clinically important decrease in perceived stress.

Pain is more easily tolerated. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research done on chronic pain suffers showed that those who meditated didn’t reduce pain levels but the amount of pain they were having caused them less discomfort than the non-meditating control group.

Interestingly despite these scientific results, meditation is still viewed by many as a hippie practice that borders on religion more than healthcare. In one study 80% of Americans asked said they would rather take a pill to relieve anxiety than sit for 20 minutes in meditation. Perhaps this is because people don’t know how to get started on a practice.

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How To Get Started

If you want to get started at home in a simple meditation practice and see these benefits in as little as 2 weeks, here are 8 simple steps to get you started.

1.Pick a time.

I learned that the best time is when you first wake up. The acronym I learned was RPM for rise, pee, meditate. Why? If you put it off until later in the day, it tends to get lower and lower on the to do list.

2. Make it a habit.

Start by scheduling it on your calendar for 21 days. That’s enough time to get a habit formed.

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3. Avoid distractions.

Find a place where you can sit without interruptions for 15-20 minutes. If you have small children pick a time where they won’t need your immediate attention and tell them they can sit with you but you won’t talk to them until you are done.

4. Comfort is key.

Sitting is recommended more than laying down because your body equates laying down with sleep and you are more likely to doze off if you lay down, Make sure you are warm enough. And there is no need to be in a yoga posture as you sit. Cross legged is fine. Eyes closed if possible.

5. Start by following the breath.

This means just bring full awareness away from anything but inhaling and exhaling. Witness what your breath is doing without trying to change it or control it.

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6. Don’t try to stop thinking.

You have approximately 80,000 thoughts each day. It’s impossible to stop them from coming. The goal in meditation is just to notice when you are thinking and refocus back on the breath. This trains the brain to focus for longer durations without asking it to stop thinking.

7. Don’t compare your meditation to others.

Don’t even compare it to your last meditation. Each one is different. Judging your meditation means that there was a goal you were trying to achieve in the meditation. “There is no try just do” in the words of yoda.

8. Benefits that start in meditation are happening outside meditation.

You will notice the benefits of what you do in meditation, not during the meditation but in the rest of your day. You might notice that you have more patience, more creativity or more vitality.

In the words of Pema Chodron: “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are”

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Last Updated on February 12, 2019

12 Things That May Cause Breast Cancer You Should Avoid

12 Things That May Cause Breast Cancer You Should Avoid

I’m a hypochondriac. Always have been since I was a child. One of my biggest fears as an adult is getting breast cancer. I visited my gynecologist a few months ago and asked what I could do to help prevent getting breast cancer. You know what she said? Nothing. According to this recommended OB/GYN doctor, besides regular check-ups to see if I already had breast cancer, there was nothing I could do to prevent a cancer that impacts 1 in 8 U.S. women.

BS.

After heavily researching breast cancer, I found out that I was making quite a few mistakes with my everyday activities. Here are 12 things that may cause breast cancer that you should avoid.

Buying Deodorant Without Checking the Label

I actually have a good friend who is more of a hypochondriac than I am, so I went to her with my concerns about breast cancer. She took me into the bathroom and thrust her deodorant at me. While at first I was confused and slightly offended, she explained that I should start using a different deodorant because the mass-produced ones at the store have ingredients (ie aluminum –based compounds) I can’t afford to put under my armpits and so close to my breasts. Luckily, she had an extra Tom’s natural deodorant to give me.

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There might not be any “conclusive” research that links antiperspirants to breast cancer but better safe than sorry.

Using Chemical Hair Dye

I know so many people who dye their hair every few months using the cheap boxed dyes you can buy at the store. Sure, it can be fun but it’s like playing Russian Roulette because the dyes you use most likely contain carcinogens. The National Cancer Institute even warns against the practice of just picking out a hair dye willy-nilly. So the next time you do it, go to a health foods market and find the most naturally-based hair dye you can.

Smoking

Regarding my visit to the gynecologist, she did come back after our conversation a few minutes later and asked if I smoked or drank a lot of alcohol. I said no (I don’t think any true hypochondriac can do either of those things). “You’ll be fine then,” she said. But she forgot about second-hand smoke, which can be just as dangerous. Now, I won’t go near anyone if they’re lighting up, including my BFF’s boyfriend. He can get as mad as he wants; my health is more important!

Wearing the Wrong Bra Size

When an organization devoted to protecting women against breast cancer suggests you get fitted with the right bra, you take notice. Bras that are too small or big might pose a risk because they just aren’t supportive on the breast tissue or if they are too tight they will cut off drainage of the lymph fluid. Hey, it was a great excuse to head to Victoria’s Secret to get measured.

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If I had my choice though, I would go all-natural and join the bra burners of the 60s (however, my mom was a bra burner, so that might make it a little awkward).

Using Chemical Household Cleaners

If the cabinet under your kitchen sink looks like most, there are enough chemicals to make all sorts of crazy things. And yes, as you and I suspected, those chemicals are REALLY bad. Not only are they connected with breast cancer, they are connected with other kinds of cancers, as well as chronic conditions like migraines, allergies and more. So from now on, clean with vinegar, baking soda and other materials that aren’t going to give you a medical nightmare.

Using Mothballs

When I was a little kid, I learned to use mothballs. They actually remind me of my grandmother, bless her heart. Little did I know that they are filled with chemicals that have been connected with breast cancer development. Looks like I’ll be looking for an alternative, like cedar chips. Sorry, Grammy!

Putting Non-Organic Make-Up on My Face

I won’t tell you the foundation I use, but I will tell you that after I read the ingredients, I promptly threw it away. It was chock full of all sorts of nasty things like parabens, which have been found en masse in tissue samples that came from breast cancer patients. I can still wear make-up, though. A trip to my local whole foods store was all it took to come up with organic-based, paraben-free cover-up.

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Neglecting My Physical Health

In my research, I discovered losing weight is a good way to ward off breast cancer since there have been indications of a link between being overweight and being diagnosed with this type of cancer. That’s all the motivation I need to get off the couch and head to the gym.

Drinking Alcohol

Like I mentioned above, alcohol has never been my drink of choice but basically everyone else I know highly enjoys their beer. Yet alcohol is super problematic if you want to avoid breast cancer, liver cancer and heart cancer. In a global study, over 21 percent of alcohol related deaths were because of cancer. I’m hoping for a soon-to-be revolution that swaps alcohol for tea (healthier and less expensive) when it comes to social drinking. Tea time anyone?

De-Odorizing My House With Air Fresheners

I love a clean-smelling house and car, but the air fresheners I’ve been using contain phthalates, a type of plasticizing chemical. Phthalates have been found in air fresheners because they help create a long-lasting fragrance. Unfortunately, that fragrance could be deadly. Looks like I’ll be boiling some water, cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stovetop to make my house smell really amazing!

Storing Everything in Plastic Containers

I have a habit of collecting those plastic containers. Whenever I get a coupon for them, I just go hog-wild and buy a bunch. But they have a connection to breast cancer, which I didn’t know before. It’s especially bad when you use them to reheat food in the microwave. I’m going to suck it up, throw them out and use glass containers instead.

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Buying the Wrong Food

I figured that pesticides were trouble from the get-go, and I was right. They get into your foods and, in some cases, seem to foster an environment where cancerous cells feel compelled to grow within the organs and tissues, including the breasts. It’s one more reason to buy from local farmers, as long as they don’t use pesticides. You’ll have to ask them, by the way; most local food market stands don’t have signs up about the whole pesticides topic.

While everyone still makes fun of me for being a hypochondriac, I know in my heart that I’m actually just protecting myself, and maybe educating some people on the health dangers that lurk in everyday items. My wellbeing is worth being the butt of a few jokes. Yours is, too.

Featured photo credit: NA via istockphoto.com

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