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Start your own meditation practice

The benefits of meditation are tremendous. In a world that is “on” 24/7, few of us get much regular rest. We go go go — perhaps getting a lot of work done, or cramming loads of activity into the day — while ignoring our body’s natural rhythms and need for post-sprint recovery. The result is that many of us are more stressed out, anxious, and depressed than previous generations.

A terrific antidote (that we all have with us all the time) is simple meditation. Scores of studies have shown the benefits of meditation to be broad and profound: meditation lowers our stress and anxiety, helps us focus, and, ironically, makes us more productive. Meditation even makes us healthier! After meditating daily for eight weeks, research subjects were 76% less likely than a non-meditating control group to miss work due to illness, and if they did get a cold or a flu, it lasted only five days on average, whereas the control group illnesses lasted an average of eight.

Here’s how: Sit in a comfortable position, spine straight and hands relaxed in your lap. Close your eyes, and turn your attention to your breath. Breathe naturally, controlling your attention, not your breath. When your mind wanders (it will) gently bring your attention back to noticing your breath. Try to meditate for 10-20 minutes before you go back to the hustle and bustle of the day, to really give yourself a break.

(If you are new to meditation, you can also start with just a minute or so and build up to 20 minutes. Or, check out some of these free guided meditations here; there are many different ways to meditate. I particularly like loving-kindness meditations if you want to get fancy.)

Photo courtesy of Anton Petukhov


  1. Kirsten says:

    I’m curious to learn more about the 90 minute cycle, when it’s recommended to take a break. Is there someplace where that research is given? Thanks!

    • I think the best synopsis of the research related to the our daily work rhythms is “Be Excellent at Anything,” by Tony Schwartz. It’s very accessible, research-based — and inspiring!

  2. Donne Davis says:

    My daughter and two granddaughters, ages 9 and 6, started meditating together a year ago. The results have been noticeable.
    Their meditation practice includes reading affirmations from a book by Yvonne Read titled “Parenting Through the Power Within: Positive Affirmations for Early Childhood Development.”
    The three of them have developed a 10-minute ritual, which they try to practice 3 or 4 times a week. They gather in a circle on the living room floor with their meditation supplies: a small chime, a candle, three polished heart-shaped stones, Read’s affirmation calendar, and small notebooks for both girls.
    I wrote a post about it on my GaGa Sisterhood blog: https://wp.me/pmPuP-2Pu

  3. Jeri Kissler-Painter says:

    After sitting next to my bed for years,I started reading the book “The Meditation Year ” by Jane Hope. I have started my second year of re-reading it. I have found it to be very grounding, illuminating and helpful. I look forward Sitting With it now, slowly embracing its wisdom. You can buy it through amazon for one penny! ( plus shipping ) the deal of a life time!

  4. Simon Lacoste-Julien says:

    Hi Christine, can you post the pointer to the study which had the ‘76% less likely to miss work’ result? [In general, I think it would be good to always include a hyperlink to the research paper when you quote a specific research result so that curious people can look at the original source…] Thanks!

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