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Daily meditation may be the smartest thing you can do to promote wellness, a new study led by Harvard Medical School psychologist John Denninger, indicates. Scientists already understood that meditation reduces stress and illness, but they could not pinpoint exactly why. Now, a part of that puzzle may have been solved: Regular meditation creates change on a cellular level, essentially turning on clusters of “good” genes that make us healthier, while turning off clusters of “bad” genes that lead to disease.
In the study, volunteers meditated for 20 minutes daily, for eight weeks. The results? More activated health-promoting genes that boost immune response, energy metabolism, and insulin secretion (which helps prevent diabetes), and it turned down health-depleting genes linked to stress and inflammation, says Denninger.
Here are 3 simple ways to incorporate meditation into your practice.
1. Focus on your breath
Close your eyes or softly gaze straight ahead. Breathe through your nose and gently focus on each inhalation and exhalation.
2. Choose a mantra
Select one word or phrase, called a mantra, to repeat and focus on during meditation. An ideal mantra contains only a few words or syllables, for easy repetition.
3. Clear your mind
When thoughts or feelings bubble to the surface, simply notice them without judgment, and return your attention to your breath.