In the time it takes to read this column, you can master the basics of meditation — and make your brain bigger. Yep, we started our daily practices back when we YOU Docs thought meditation would just ease stress. Then we found it reduced inflammation, which reduces aging, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Now we know it also gets your gray matter growing in the areas that improve learning and memory.
Here’s what you need to know to get even smarter and stay younger longer.
Find a quiet place to sit. Really quiet, where no one will interrupt you. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Breathe.
Unwind. Gently tense and relax each body part, from your toes to your forehead, so you bring your whole body to stillness.
Go blank. When your monkey brain starts chattering (Eek, did I pay the electric bill?), slowly inhale through your nose (count 1-2-3) and out through your mouth (1-2-3). Repeat a mantra of your choice (“yes” or “om” or whatever).
Don’t move for 5 minutes. Staying totally still (even if your nose itches) makes you feel in charge and relaxed. Go for 10 or 20 minutes when you can.
Get up slowly and continue that mindfulness. As you walk or munch an apple or brush and floss, focus on the sensations you usually overlook. Extend that peaceful, mind-expanding awareness into other corners of your life.