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Benefits of Meditation100 Ways Meditation is Good for Your Health – Parade

Posted: January 8, 2020 at 8:49 am


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Wellness January 2, 2020 5:13 PM ByErica Sweeney Parade @ericapsweeney More by Erica

As we race from task to task and juggle lifes responsibilities, many of us strive to calm our minds and feel centered. Practicing meditation and mindfulness can help get us therein fact, the benefits of meditation are plentiful.

Meditation helps people hit the pause button, helping them become more present in a given moment, says Spring Washam, meditation educator and author of A Fierce Heart.

Its like the TV is blaring, and then we turn it off for a moment, and we just take a breath, she says. Meditation is a way that we gain that a sort of calmness and a centeredness and we connect with ourselves in that moment.

Whether its five minutes or 20 minutes, finding time to meditate throughout the day can help you feel happier and more at peace. And, your mind and body will thank you. Meditation offers a wealth of benefits to improve your physical health and well being.

Related: 10 Ways Meditation Can Fix Your Life

1. It lowers cortisol levels. Research shows that mindfulness meditation lowers levels of cortisol, the hormone that causes stress. Reducing cortisol can decrease general stress, anxiety and depression.

2. You can better deal with stress. Meditation brings a sense of calm to the mind and body that can reduce stress, Washam says.

When the mind relaxes and lets go, the body follows, she says. We want our adrenaline and our nervous system to take a break at times, to unplug, to recycle, to rejuvenate.

3. It eases anxiety. Meditation is literally the perfect, portable anti-anxiety treatment, says health coach Traci Shoblom. Taking just a few minutes to close your eyes and do breathing exercises can turn off the mechanisms in your brain that cause anxiety.

4. It reduces depression symptoms. Depression is a series mental health condition often triggered by stress and anxiety. Research suggests meditation can change areas of the brain, including the me center and fear center, that are linked to depression. People who meditate also show increased gray matter in the brains hippocampus, responsible for memory.

5. Youll get a mood boost. Meditation helps you deal with stress, anxiety and difficult situations, which makes you happier and feel better. Were just able to deal with difficult things without letting it affect your mood, Washam says.

6. You can retrain your brain. The brain tends to develop as its used. Meditation may retrain the brain to use the prefrontal cortex, known as the me center, to regulate the amygdala, or fear center, says researcher and author Bracha Goetz.

This means that when faced with a stressor, when we are not meditating, we will have gotten in the habit of using our prefrontal cortex to direct our minds back to think more calmly and clearly focus, rather than letting our impulsive reactions direct us, Goetz says.

7. Its good for your heart. Research shows meditation can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, says Chirag Shah, physician and founder of online healthcare platform Push Health. Meditation positively impacts blood pressure, heart muscle effectiveness and general cardiovascular mortality.

8. It lowers blood pressure. High blood pressure affects about 30% of U.S. adults and is considered a worldwide epidemic that heightens the risk of stroke and heart attack. Meditation may improve blood pressure naturally, without medication, research shows.

9. It enhances serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical produced in nerve cells that works as a natural mood stabilizer. When you meditate, youll increase serotonin levels, which Washam says acts like a natural anti-depressant.

10. Youll break bad habits. Whether its smoking or shopping too much, meditation brings awareness to your actions in that moment and help you break the cycle of a bad habit, Washam says.

Most habits form unconsciously, she says, and, Over time, (meditation) brings awareness to what were doing, so were not acting out unconsciously. Mindfulness interrupts the habit.

11. Youll strengthen relationships. Good communication, empathy and respect are the hallmarks of a strong relationship, and meditation helps improve all of those qualities. Creating a deeper connection with yourself makes relationships easier and more fulfilling, Washam says.

The moment I become present, Im available to my partner, to my friends, to myself, she says.

12. It boosts concentration. When so many things are racing through our minds at any given time, it can be tough to concentrate on tasks at work or even hobbies like reading a book. Meditation centers your mind so you can focus on what you need to get done.

13. It helps build inner strength. Weve all been stuck in traffic or in a long, boring meeting and couldnt wait to escape. Practicing meditation and mindfulness helps build inner strength and endurance to calmly get through these situations, Washam says.

It creates an ability to be in the moment no matter how it is, she says. Were just able to be with difficult things without unraveling or letting it affect you.

14. Youll learn to be present. Research shows meditation can decrease brain activity in the default mode network (DMN), the part of the brain that wonders, worries and overthinks, helping us stay in the present, says Adina Mahalli, relationship expert and mental health professional at Maple Holistics.

Meditation promotes being in the present moment and focusing our thoughts, Mahalli says, explaining that meditation works the brain like a muscle. The more you meditate the more easily youre able to snap out of DMN mode and into the present.

15. Youll become comfortable in stillness. These days, most of us are always on the go and rarely take the time to calm down. Meditation can make you feel comfortable with stillness, says Josee Perron, life coach and yoga and meditation teacher.

Weve become accustomed to needing to be on the go all the time, Perron says. But, so much running around doesnt leave any time for stillness, which is the gateway to connecting with your deeper inner self.

16. It helps with brain fog. If you struggle with concentration, forget things easily and have a hard time focusing, you might have brain fog. Its often caused by stress, and a meditation practice can calm your mind and let you focus on your breath so you feel more present.

Meditation cuts through the fog because were waking up in that moment in a way, literally, Washam says. Were stopping the habitual distraction, which has effects in the brain long term.

17. Youll better handle anger. Getting angry is a natural feeling when dealing with difficult people or situations. If you act impulsively, you could make things worse, however. When you meditate, you train your brain to focus on the present, and this can help you learn to control and process your emotions in the moment.

Maybe youre upset, but you slow down and just feel your emotions, Washam says. Just that simple act of turning toward your breath creates a kind of relief in the mind.

18. You can work through grudges. Holding onto anger and reliving past wrongs in your mind takes a toll on the mind and body. To calm these feelings, Washam suggests using STOP, a mindfulnessbased meditation technique, which stands for stopping in the moment, taking a breath, observing your internal feelings and proceeding with your day.

19. Youll live in the moment. Learning to focus and live in the moment is important benefit of meditation, but its easier said than done. Often, our thoughts turn to past events or things we need or want to do in the future, and we seem to forget about the here and now.

20. It helps you cope with pain. Meditation activates areas of the brain that are associated with processing pain, so mindful breathing can help people manage chronic pain, says Megan Junchaya, health coach and founder of Vibe N Thrive. Research shows that even a short amount of meditation can boost pain tolerance and reduce pain-related anxietyand, it could possibly alleviate the need for opioid pain medication.

21. Meditation helps you relax. Learning to simply relax and keep calm under pressure are huge mental and physical health benefits of meditation. Practicing mindfulness can reduce stress and lower blood pressure so youll feel more relaxed.

22. Youll sleep better. Most Americans dont get enough sleep, and its tough to get through the day when youre exhausted. Its also bad for your health. When you meditate, you may find yourself drifting off to sleep more easily and getting better quality sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Related: 5 Mental Health Influencers Explain Why Meditation for Sleep Really Works

23. It helps with insomnia. If you have a sleep disorder, like insomnia, meditation can be especially helpful. It reduces anxiety and retrains the brain to slow down and respond differently to stressors.

24. But, you may not need as much sleep. Meditation is not a sleep replacement, and we all need our eight hours. But, when long-term meditation practitioners spent several hours meditating, they experienced a significant drop in sleep time compared to those who dont meditate, according to a 2010 study published in Behavioral and Brain Functions.

25. Meditation teaches you to self-soothe. You will learn to work through anxiety, anger and other problems so that you dont turn to unhealthy behaviors, like drugs or alcohol, to self-soothe.

26. Youll become your own cheerleader. Meditation acts as a support system to help you through a rough time. Youll realize the value of celebrating your strengths and successes and not worrying so much about any faults or mistakes.

27. It reduces inflammation. Meditations ability to help reduce stress is well known. But, chronic stress creates inflammation in the body, which is linked with heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity, says Paul Claybrook, a certified nutritionist.

28. It adds balance to your life. Finding balancewhether its juggling work and home life, dealing with stress and taking some down timeis vital for our mental health and well-being. Practicing mindfulness and learning to center your thoughts will get you there.

29. Youll be more productive. Bringing more awareness to your day-to-day focuses you on the task at hand, rather than jumping around from one project to anotherand, this increases productivity, says Cory Muscara, founder of Long Island Mindfulness Center.

When were going through our day on autopilot, we miss those quick transition moments from working on a project to scrolling through our friends cat pictures on Facebook, he says. The quicker we catch these transitions, the quicker we can come back to the task at hand, and the more we can get done.

30. It boosts the immune system. Among the many health benefits of meditation is an immune system boost, says Mick Cassell, clinical hypnotherapist and founder of wellness app ThinkWell-LiveWell. Research shows that mindfulness lowers blood pressure and enhances the immune system, making you feel better and maybe even live longer.

31. It improves mental functioning. Practice meditation regularly and youll see a chain reaction that leads to better mental functioning, Cassell says. That can include becoming more relaxed, sleeping better and improving concentration, reasoning, performance and productivity.

32. Youll feel more creative. Meditation helps you dial up your creativity, which you can extend to your daily life, Cassell says. Creativity offers benefits like problem-solving, adaptability and self-confidence.

33. It makes you kind. We all need a little more kindness in our lives, and meditation can do the trick. A type of meditation, called Metta, focuses on a feelings-related practice that promotes kindness, says Stella Samuel, wellness coach at Brandnic.com.

34. It improves memory. Meditation enhances cognitive function, which can be a mood-booster and help prevent memory loss, says Brittany Ferri, occupational therapist and founder of Simplicity of Health.

35. Meditation prevents burnout. As we work longer hours and continue to add to our load of responsibilities, its easy to burn out. Practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction could actually shrink the part of the brain that causes worry and fear, and strengthens the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for personality development, research suggests.

36. Youll have a spiritual awakening. Meditation takes us to a place deep inside ourselves, which can bring feelings of love and peace. For some, that could lead to a spiritual awakening.

37. Meditation builds resilience. Focusing on all emotionshappiness, failure and regretlets you observe these feelings and experience a seat of awareness, says Sherrell Moore-Tucker, author and wellness educator.

While sitting with those feelings and experiences, inner strength is cultivated and resilience emerges, she says.

38. Your sex life will heat up. Mindfulness lets you tap into a more authentic, compassionate and honest relationship to sex, says Shauna Shapiro, clinical psychologist and author of Good Morning, I Love You. Studies show practicing mindfulness increases sexual arousal and overall sexual satisfaction, because it enhances your connection with your body.

39. It promotes mindful eating. Our relationship with food can be a complex one, and dieting or overeating can be harmful to our physical and mental health. Mindfulness helps counter your consciousness and reactivity around food, adding to the enjoyment of eating while recognizing hunger cues, Shapiro says.

As we eat mindfully, we are able to listen to the messages of our body, recognizing what foods our body wants, as well as appreciating when we feel hungry and when we become full, she says.

40. Youll become more in tune with your body. Many of us go through the day with a constant dialogue running through our minds. Meditation facilitates a direct experience, or wordless experience of pure sensation, says Brooke Nicole Smith, mindful eating expert and integrative wellness and life coach. This lets you learn to check in with the body.

41. It helps you deal with uncomfortable situations. Getting out of your comfort zone builds strength and leads to personal growth. Meditation teaches you to experience discomfort without freaking out about it, opening the door to new possibilities, where youll feel more comfortable asking for a raise, having a tough conversation or tackling anything else youve been avoiding, Smith says.

42. It could alter gene expression. Research shows that mindfulness-based meditation can lead to molecular changes in the body, which may reduce levels of pro-inflammatory genes. That means you could recover more quickly from stressful situations.

43. Meditation could help fight addiction. Practicing mindfulness lets you better control emotions, thoughts and behaviors, giving you greater control over subconscious habits and addictions, Junchaya says. Research suggests mindfulness-based interventions could treat addictions, including alcohol, smoking, opioids and other drugs.

44. Meditation fosters accountability. Self-exploration leads to self-awareness. Meditation teaches you to own up to actions and behaviors, and stop living in denial or lying to yourself about issues in your life, says Fran Walfish, family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent.

45. Youll make better decisions. Being constantly on the go means we often make impulsive decisions. Since meditation helps you slow down, you can make better decisions and fewer mistakes in your home and work life, says Sadi Khan, fitness research analyst at RunRepeat.

46. It boosts self-esteem. Meditation helps quell negative thoughts, calms the mind and reduces anxiety, helping you feel good about yourself and the decisions you make.

47. Meditation eases loneliness. A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity showed older adults, who took part in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program, saw a decrease in pro-inflammatory gene expressionand, this reduced feelings of loneliness.

48. It improves memory. Brief meditation training has been shown to improve visuo-spatial processing, working memory and executive functioning, according to a study published in Consciousness and Cognition. After just four days of meditation training, people showed a stronger ability to pay attention longer.

49. It can alleviate PMS. Headaches, cramps, hot flashes and water retentionmeditation has been shown to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and change how you perceive period pain, according to a study published in Mindfulness.

50. Meditation may improve arthritis symptoms. Several studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction can help manage chronic pain, which is welcome news for people living with arthritis. Embracing meditation can help lessen the intensity of pain, enhance functionality and improve mood and quality of life.

51. It changes how the body responds to stress. Stressful situations happen, but meditation helps you manage your reactions to stress. Not only is this good for your health, it can also diffuses stressful moments so they dont escalate.

52. Meditation encourages movement. Meditation fosters a mind-body connection that will encourage you to get up and move. Combined with yoga, tai chi or a casual walk, meditation focuses on being present in your own body and expanding awareness during physical activity, says Lisa Ballehr, an osteopathic physician.

53. It helps you focus. Having trouble focusing on a specific task? Meditation can change that. It could be the simple act of sitting down to a good meal or pushing through a workout session, but the intent is to focus on simply that task at hand and not letting the mind wander, Ballehr says.

54. Youll become more self-confident. Once you learn that you are not your thoughts, you can finally let go of your fears, says Lucile Hernandez Rodriguez, a yoga teacher and holistic health coach. Focusing on your meditation practice helps you find stability, peace of mind and self-acceptance.

55. It promotes emotional stability. Meditation lets you focus on your mind and identify thought patterns, so that you can address them, Rodriguez says. Youll discover healthy ways to deal with your emotions and repressed feelings.

56. Youll perform better. So much focus is on productivity and getting as much done as you can in a day. Meditation can improve performance in all areas of your life. Meditation is commonly used by high-performers in every discipline, as it helps you find your state of flow and truly excel in a task, Rodriguez says.

57. Youll get in touch with your inner voice. When we calm the overactive mind through meditation, we open ourselves up to new feelings and experiences. We are able to tune into and listen to that voice within, our intuition, versus the confusing chitter chatter of our minds stories, says Tara Skubella, an earthing and meditation expert and founder of Earth Tantra.

58. Youll learn to focus your breathing. Breathing is a natural function of the body, of course, but how often do you truly focus on each breath? Meditation provides a space for us to slow and deepen our breath for more oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, Skubella says.

59. Youll make a mind-body connection. How often do we actually give ourselves permission to feel even the most subtle sensations within the body? Skubella asks. If we listen, our body will let us know what needs to be healed.

Practicing meditation provides a chance to stop and build a relationship with the body.

60. Meditation keeps your brain younger. When you focus on your breath during meditation, youre also giving the brain a boost, says Tara Huber of Take Five Meditation. Research published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement shows that regular mindfulness meditation can even slow the aging process and reverse brain aging.

61. It helps you cope with trauma. The death of a loved one or recovering from past abuse can mean dealing with trauma and grief on a daily basis. Meditation can provide emotional safety and focus, so that you can process these feelings, says meditation teacher Colette Coleman.

62. It keeps distractions away. The need for constant multitasking can have our minds scattered. A mindfulness practice pushes away distractions so that you can tackle your to-do list in a calculated way.

63. Youll simplify your life. Living peacefully in the moment not only helps you feel more present, but it relieves the pressure of having to do so much. After we adjust to the challenges of quieting ourselves and letting go of restlessness, we can feel the relief of not having to constantly do, says Connie Habash, psychotherapist, yoga and meditation teacher, and author of Awakening from Anxiety. This realization lets you simplify your life and find joy.

64. Youll feel more alert. Fighting drowsiness and brain fog may be a daily occurrence. Mindfulness training can improve your ability to stay continually alert over a longer period of time, says Keiland Cooper, neuroscientist at the University of California. Research shows that meditation increases activation of the prefrontal cortex, which regulates emotion and attention, and decreases activity in the amygdala, which controls fear.

65. Youll become more patient. Patience is truly a virtue, especially dealing with difficult people. Meditation allows you to become more adept at dealing with mental distractions, maintaining calm in moments of chaos, improving patience levels, increasing your tolerance of others (and yourself), and responding thoughtfully instead of reacting emotionally throughout your day, says Amber Trueblood, a marriage and family therapist and author.

66. Youll be more tolerant of others. It may be tough to see eye-to-eye with difficult co-workers or relatives with differing political views. A regular meditation practice will keep you calm in these instances so you can embrace tolerance. Its an important part of building relationships.

67. Meditation enhances your metabolism. Practicing meditation will likely inspire you to move more or take up yoga or another fitness routine. Research has also shown a link between mindfulness and an enhanced metabolism.

68. It improves digestion. The mind-body balance and reduced stress that youll experience from meditation is great for your digestive system. It could relieve symptoms of indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and other health issues.

69. Youll have more energy. Maintaining a mind-body connection and reducing stress will give you an energy boost. Meditation helps you feel less weighed down by your emotions and ready to move or take on new projects.

70. Youll have better impulse control. Through practicing mindfulness, youll learn to center your mind and focus on your breath, which helps you control your emotions and impulses.

71. Meditation releases endorphins. The practice of meditation releases endorphins and lowers cortisol levels, making you feel happier and more energetic.

72. Meditation helps curb food cravings. The self-control and stress management that you learn through practicing mindfulness could help curb food cravings and break unhealthy eating habits. It lets you tap into whats driving you to specific foods, Amber Stevens, integrative nutrition health coach and author of Food, Feelings and Freedom.

Meditation lets you master your own mind, so you can pause and ask yourself, Why is this ice cream important, and allow your mind to connect dots, she says, adding that youll be open to explore, not critique, your eating habits.

73. Meditation reduces instances of binge eating. Mindfulness meditation can decrease binge eating and emotional eating, according to a study published in Eating Behaviors.

74. Meditation could help you lose weight. Research has linked meditation to more mindful eating, a boost in metabolism and increased energy levels, which suggests that it could help with weight loss.

75. Youll better understand hunger cues. If you tend to feel peckish in the afternoons, mindfulness could help you get in touch with the real reason why. It may not be actual hunger, says Pamela Hernandez, personal trainer and health coach.

Mindfulness helps get sense how hungry they are and other emotions they are feeling that might lead them to overeat, she says. It creates a more mindful state, which gives you a better chance of pushing away from the table before you reach the stuffed feeling of overeating.

76. It helps you forget about past wrongs. Rather than letting the past define (you), fully surrender to the now and embrace your journey in its entirety without shame or guilt, says AnushaWijeyakumar, wellness coach and meditation and mindfulness educator.

Meditation helps you leave the past in the past and drown out the noise thats preventing you from experiencing inner peace, she says. Youll sever any attachment to past wrongs and move forward.

77. Youll quiet negative thoughts. Learn to let go of the past and crush negative thoughts, which may be holding you back. Replace those negative thoughts with something positive.

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Benefits of Meditation100 Ways Meditation is Good for Your Health - Parade

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January 8th, 2020 at 8:49 am

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Parkland survivor on why he believes in brain-scanning meditation wearables – Mashable

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Kai Koerber has partnered with BrainCo. in hopes of bringing quantified meditation to U.C. Berkeley.

Image: Alana Koerber

At CES, tech execs and thirsty industry analysts abound. This year, there was also a college student and mass shooting survivor named Kai Koerber preaching about the benefits of meditation.

Koerber is a U.C. Berkeley student and activist who is a survivor of the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. Parkland survivors took action in the wake of the shooting by advocating for gun control legislation, and now, Koerber is calling for mental health resources in schools.

He founded an organization called the Societal Reform Corp. that raises money and champions mental health, mediation, and mindfulness education.

Koerber attended CES in Las Vegas to help make a high-tech announcement: Societal Reform Corp. has partnered with much-hyped "brain machine interface" (BMI) company BrainCo. to advocate for a Berkeley program that would encourage students to meditate, with a little help from some brainwave monitoring headbands.

BrainCo. makes a wearable device, the Focus1 headset, that monitors brainwaves and analyzes them in an accompanying app. The app gives users games and exercises for meditation and focus. Then, users are ideally able to better understand the power of the practice.

"They can literally change their brain activity," Max Newlon, BrainCo.'s USA president said during the presentation. "Seeing this really gives them the empowerment that theyre in control."

The science behind the efficacy of technology like BrainCo.'s is promising, but not entirely well established. However, the company has raised millions, has undertaken its own studies to examine how its activities can help people with attention challenges focus, and is working to optimize mental states for fitness.

BrainCo. and Koerber say that it is early days for their partnership. A BrainCo. representative clarified that, while nothing is final yet, Koerber would like to bring a meditation center to Berkeley's campus equipped with BrainCo. devices. Students would be able to take the devices back to their dorms and homes to continue their practices on their own.

Koerber thinks seeing visual representations of your brain activity while meditating could encourage critics who see meditation as wishy-washy to commit to a mental health practice.

He also considers promoting mental health his own form of anti-gun violence advocacy.

"Any person who walks into a room and kills 20 people is not well," Koerber told Mashable. "From a wellness perspective, there's something wrong there."

Meditation and mindfulness has become a much-talked about tool in trauma care. However, it is not the holy grail. In some cases, a mindfulness practice might be ineffective or re-traumatizing for people with PTSD. It could also be overly simplistic to posit mindfulness as a way to stop a potential future shooter.

But Koerber views what he calls "social emotional learning" as one part of the solution.

"If we provide students with the ability to manage stress, and positively construct a new reality for themselves, I think we'd start to see a lot more difference in the world we're living in today."

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Parkland survivor on why he believes in brain-scanning meditation wearables - Mashable

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Muses innovative meditation headband gets a softer, sleepier version – TechCrunch

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Maybe you remember the Muse Softband from last years CES. Honestly, probably you dont. I do, but only because A) I was there and B) I actually really liked the companys regular version. Im still pretty skeptical about the concept of using meditation to jumpstart mindfulness, but the Muse 2 makes a compelling case for hardware as a means of quieting ones thoughts.

After a year of silence, the rebranded Muse S is ready to launch. I like the name. It beats Softband, in that it doesnt sound like a Japanese investment firm. S is for soft and also sleep two elements that obviously go hand in hand. Its also s for savvy move on Muses part, as sleep tech is all the rage at this CES. And certainly meditation and sleep go hand in hand.

The fabric headband offers similar biofeedback-enhanced meditation, measuring brainwaves to determine where your concentration is. Sleep is added to the mix, as well, designed to be worn for five or so minutes a night before trying to get to sleep. The system pairs up with the Muse app, which features Go-to-Sleep Journeys essentially guided sleep meditations. Unlike some comparable sleep masks, however, the headphones arent built in.

Instead, you pair it with your headphones and put your phone away. Comfort levels will vary, of course, depending on your headphones. The sounds are impacted in real time based on biofeedback, including brain activity, movement and heart rate, adjusting the soundtrack accordingly. Compelling for sure. Ive got it on good authority that theres a unit waiting for me back at home. Sadly, it didnt get to me in time would have been nice for CES hell week.

Anyway, review soon, probably. For the rest of you, the Muse S is currently available for $350 through Muses site and Amazon. The Muse meditation app runs $13 a month.

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Muses innovative meditation headband gets a softer, sleepier version - TechCrunch

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The ex-closeted gay jihadist’ bringing meditation to Jakarta – The Guardian

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Bagia Arif Saputra runs a meditation studio in Jakata, Indonesia. Photograph: Krithika Varagur

When Bagia Arif Saputra was growing up in a university town near Jakarta, becoming a jihadist seemed a natural choice for young men like him, who were steeped in the teachings of Islamic fundamentalism. Less easy was reconciling this identity with his sexuality.

I was living a double life, says Saputra. I would go to the campus mosque, try to focus on my prayers and find myself checking out a guy and thinking, Nice ass. And then immediately, Astaghfirullah [God forgive me]! So then I would have to redo my prayers. It was a vicious cycle.

Saputra, now 34 and openly gay, recounts this serenely at the meditation centre he runs in the centre of the Indonesian capital. As a mindfulness expert who spent his formative years in student jihadist circles in conservative West Java, his life has combined two vastly different currents of modern Indonesia since its transition to democracy in 1998: the rise of religious piety and fundamentalism, and the explosion of a young, globalised middle-class.

At the Golden Space meditation centre, in a high-rise apartment block, Saputra says he first attracted wider attention when he started appearing on the Indonesian lecture circuit as an ex-closeted gay jihadist who found his dream job.

The mere fact of openly identifying as gay in Indonesia, where in recent years the LGBTQ+ community has faced a rise in hateful political rhetoric , raids, and potential criminalisation, seemed remarkable.

My parents definitely cried and were upset with my choice, he says, recalling coming out to his family in June 2015, during Ramadan. But they still love me and today we have a great relationship.

Saputra grew up in Bandung, a university town three hours east of Jakarta that is known both for its lively cafe culture and as a hotbed of fundamentalism. He went to a pesantren, a traditional Muslim boarding school, and then to the Indonesia University of Education.

In college, he felt adrift and was soon recruited to the Tarbiyah movement, the student wing of an Indonesian Islamist party modelled on the Muslim Brotherhood. This provided him with a sense of belonging.

He adopted the mannerisms of Salafis, puritanical Muslims who seek to revive the traditions of Quranic times: wearing ankle-length trousers and an untrimmed beard, refusing to shake hands with women, forgoing music and TV. At the time Indonesian Islamists were gripped by the Palestinian intifada and they stayed up late plotting to fight jihad alongside those they considered their Muslim brothers.

I was ready to die, says Saputra. Becoming a jihadist seemed like an easy way to go straight to heaven.

Some of the older boys were later recruited to Jemaah Islamiyah, the Indonesian affiliate of al-Qaida.

But Saputra was becoming tormented by the clash between his fundamentalist peer group and his suppressed homosexuality. No matter how hard I tried to pray the gay away, it didnt happen, he says.

He eventually withdrew for a different reason. His parents were upset by his growing disinterest in school and he realised he had gone too far for even his pious Muslim family. At one point, he says, he had even reprimanded his mother for wearing a hijab that was too short.

He left the group, graduated and headed to Jakarta, where he plunged into the underground gay scene.

There, he spent his nights with lonely strangers and days on a carousel of corporate jobs. And he started calling himself an atheist.

Then in February 2015 a friend gave him a week-long meditation course that changed his life. He studied with Umesh Nandwani, a Singapore-based meditation practitioner and Golden Space founder who, Saputra says, was one of the first people to recognise that he was gay.

I dont know how he knew, but he unlocked something within me, Saputra says.

Within four months of completing the course, he had become a dedicated practitioner himself and had come out to most of the people in his life. Nandwani recruited him to open Golden Space Jakarta in late 2016 and today he oversees 15 trainers.

Meditation is still something new for Indonesians, says Saputra. Some of them think its a religious practice and is part of Hinduism or Buddhism. I have to explain to them that its non-religious and that anyone can benefit from it.

At least one in five Indonesians are now middle class, according to the World Bank, and they are concentrated in Java and particularly in Jakarta. While meditation studios are still scarcer than in the holiday island of Bali, those in the capital are riding the wave of Jakartas burgeoning wellness industry.

Saputra, who met his partner of eight months at a meditation class, says that despite his own positive experiences since coming out, it is still not easy to be gay in Indonesia.

Most of my gay friends here are not open, and with good reason. One of them had to undergo an exorcism when his parents found out, he says. Closeted people often come up to him after speaking engagements, from teenagers to married men, and confess that they are torn about their identity.

I try to lead by example, he says. To plant the seed that there is a possibility of being openly gay in Indonesia and having a good life.

After his flirtation with atheism, Saputra says he is once again a Muslim. I fast during Ramadan, but not out of fear.

His specialty as a counsellor is anger management, because he has a lot of experience wrestling with that feeling. I carried so much anger within me: towards God for making me this way, towards my parents, towards myself, he says.

Meditation has helped me not to suppress this but to process it.

Saputra believes it is anger that motivates religious fundamentalists too. They are angry that the world has nothing to offer them, he says. Its a coping mechanism.

Whenever he sees news of occasional flares of terrorism in Indonesia, such as the Surabaya suicide bombings in 2018, he reflects on how easy it may be for such people to radicalise.

They probably thought it was the easiest path to heaven, he says. I certainly did.

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The ex-closeted gay jihadist' bringing meditation to Jakarta - The Guardian

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Learn the Three Pillars of meditation at the Audubon | News, Sports, Jobs – Evening Observer

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JAMESTOWN As the new year begins, if you are investigating healthy ways to deal with the stress in your life, Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) has just the class for you.

MMI (McLean Meditation Institute) Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Instructor Loretta Cheney is teaching the Three Pillars of Meditation at ACNC on Thursday, Jan. 23. In the 5 to 6 p.m. class, you can end the day and begin the evening by reducing stress in a natural setting through meditation and mindfulness.

Cheney will introduce the three ways meditation trains your awareness, the three requirements needed to meditate, and the five essentials for a successful experience. Participants are asked to bring a warm blanket if they have one.

The adults-only (16 and older) program is $16, $12 for Nature Center members. Space is limited. Paid reservations are required by Tuesday, January 21, 2020, and can be made by calling (716) 569-2345 during business hours or going to AudubonCNC.org/Programs and clicking on Current Schedule. Walk-ins may be accepted if there is room; call for availability after the deadline. The class will be offered again on the fourth Thursdays in February, March, and April.

Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren, Pa. To learn more about Audubon and its many programs, call 569-2345 during business hours, visit AudubonCNC.org, or find Audubon Community Nature Center on Facebook.

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Learn the Three Pillars of meditation at the Audubon | News, Sports, Jobs - Evening Observer

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Core brings Fitbit-style tracking to your meditation sessions – Engadget

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There are plenty of apps out there focused on guided meditations and mental wellness. And, not surprisingly, there's a software component to Core as well. But what sets it apart from the Headspaces of the world is there's a physical object for you to hold that also collects data to help track your meditation journey.

The Core meditation trainer itself is a sphere with a slice taken out of it. The bottom is a satisfying piece of rosewood, though the top is a more utilitarian white plastic with an ECG sensor embedded in it. Still the over all aesthetic is appealing. And that's important to the company's philosophy. It doesn't want to nag you with notifications that you've been trained to dismiss (like so many CES PR pitches), instead it wants you to feel comfortable leaving the device out on your nightstand or desk as a regular reminder to take a few minutes for yourself.

Inside the app you'll find a selection of guided meditations, breathing exercises and soundscapes. There's a small collection of them available for free when you purchase the $169 Core, but there's also a subscription service if you want to take venture deeper. The $10 a month price isn't cheap, but you can cut it in half by signing up for a full year.

Once you select and session and rest your thumbs on the ECG sensors the Core will start to gently vibrate in sync with the app. There is a baseline, but as you're instructed to take a deep breath in, or a long exhale the intensity will ramp up. The purpose here is to give you something to focus on. Often in apps like Calm you might be asked to focus on your breath, but for those just getting started, holding a physical object might prove an easier entry point.

At the end of your session the app will display a host of data, taking obvious cues from things like Fitbit. You'll see a general measure of your calm and focus, but also raw data like your heart rate and your heart rate variability which is a decent measure of how much stress your body is under.

Core is part of a growing market looking to capitalize on a renewed interest in meditation and wellness. But it's also a slightly pricey device going up against established players like Headspace, Calm, and Sattva. And unlike those services it requires a pretty significant outlay of cash just to try it out. But if you've been looking to bring Fitbit style quantification to your mindfulness training, there aren't many other options out there.

Core will be available on January 6th for $169, with subscriptions starting at $5 a month.

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Core brings Fitbit-style tracking to your meditation sessions - Engadget

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How to Mindfully Break Up with Your Meditation App – The New Yorker

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Hey, I think its time that we have a talk. Please, dont freak out. I need you to breathe. Breathing is everything. You taught me that.

Its crazy that weve been together for so long, but now that our yearly subscription is coming to an end, after a lot of self-reflection, I just dont know if I want to renew. After taking a few moments to really check in with myself, I realized that $98.99 annually is a ton of money for a meditation app. Like, thats a lot of sandwiches.

Dont get me wrong! Weve shared incredible memories, like that time I had a panic attack in the 7-Eleven parking lot after I found out my ex was already in a serious relationship. Or when my mother tried to kick me off the family phone plan. You were there for me every step of the way, and I will never forget that.

But, lately, things have been different between us. You always say its important to find your own space, and, if Im being honest, Ive been feeling suffocated. Every morning, as soon as I wake up, theres another notification waiting for me. Ive given you anywhere from one to thirty-five minutes of somewhat uninterrupted attention per day, but, no matter what, it never seems to be enough.

The thing is, its time for me to sit quietly with myself, by myself. Youre the one always telling me that my inner citadel shouldnt be dependent on anyone else. Thats also when I knew I couldnt be with an app that uses phrases like inner citadel.

I feel like youre not seeing me right now, which is weird since both my camera and microphone are enabled. Wait, are you mad because you wanted us to go on that silent retreat in Bali? Yeah, I could tell when promotions for it started showing up in my targeted ads on Instagram. But Im just not ready for such a big step. Besides, I was kind of hoping to save up to go to Mardi Gras this year. You can drink there. And eat. And...talk.

Dont look at me like that. There isnt someone else. I just think we should try to see other people. I mean, youre already seeing thirty-one million other people right now, anyway. Shouldnt I have the chance to be happy, too?!

I get it. You want to know where this is coming from. Do you remember that one weekend when I didnt have service in Joshua Tree and couldnt access you? Yeah, it was really, really scary. But I realized something. As long as I have the aching quiet of the wilderness, the right combination of hallucinogenic drugs, and my amethyst crystals, Ill be O.K. I sat perfectly still atop some ancient monzonite rock for thirty-six hours, and I didnt need you. Youre the one whos always telling me to follow my blissand I didnt try to post the sunset to my Instagram story once. I think this means Im finally ready to move on.

I cant believe Im about to say this, but I want to unplug. Deleting you is one of the hardest things Ive ever had to do, especially because I could not remember my log-in password for the longest time and the verification PIN kept getting messed up. But know that Ill always think of you whenever Im stressed about getting a really expensive parking ticket, trapped in an overpacked elevator, or about to spend $98.99 on a budgeting app that Ill never use.

Namaste.

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How to Mindfully Break Up with Your Meditation App - The New Yorker

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Is meditation good for health? – WCVB Boston

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Is meditation good for health?

Updated: 12:33 PM EST Jan 3, 2020

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ADVICE, BUT LOOK GO BACK IN TIME. -- LETS GO BACK IN TIME. IT IS A NEW YEAR, A NEW DECADE. THE HOLIDAYS ARE OVER. >> I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS. SHAYNA: RESOLUTIONS MADE WITH HOPE OF A FRESH START, BUT IT IS WINTERTIME. THAT MEANS SNOW. >> THIS TIME OF YEAR YOU ARE GRIEVING AND MORNING OVER THE LOSS OF WHAT NO LONGER IS. AND GRIEVING OVER THE LOSS OF WHAT CURRENTLY ISNT AND FEELING A LITTLE BIT STRESSED WHETHER OR NOT WHAT YOU ARE HOPING WILL BE IS GOING TO HAPPEN, AND IT FEELS LIKE IT IS A LONG WAY OFF. SHAYNA: DR. RUSKIN IS A PSYCHOTHERAPIST AND AUTHOR. SHE SEES ANXIETY SPIKE THIS TIME OF YEAR, SEASONAL AFFECTIVE OF -- SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER. >> THE WEATHER AFFECTS THE HUMAN BRAIN. WHEN WE ARE EXPERIENCING REAL LIGHT FROM THE OUTSIDE, IT HELPS US TO FEEL ENERGIZED. WE ARE FEELING EMPOWERED, CREATING SUNLIGHT IN OUR OWN BODY. SHAYNA: EVEN THOUGH THE HOLIDAYS ARE OVER, THE FALLOUT FROM FAMILY QUESTION TIME LINGERS. >> WHY HAVENT YOU HAD CHILDREN, WHY ARE YOU HAVING SO MANY CHILDREN, WHY ARE YOUR CHILDREN ACTING THAT WAY, WHY DONT YOU HAVE THAT JOB? HOW COME YOU ARE NOT WORKING ON HAVING THAT WORK ETHIC? DYNAMICS BETWEEN SIBLINGS. MEDICAL, PHYSICAL, WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE, CHOICES THAT YOU MAKE, IT IS ALL UP FOR GRABS AND ON THE TABLE WITH FAMILY GATHERINGS. SHAYNA: DR. RUSKIN SAYS RESET. NOW IS THE TIME FOR SELF-CARE. >> ARE YOU TAKING A WALK? ARE YOU TAKING THE TIME TO REALLY AND MENTALLY STIMULATE? ARE YOU INTERACTING AND SOCIALIZING WITH OTHERS IN ORDER TO EXPERIENCE CONNECTION? EVERY PERSON IS DIFFERENT IN TERMS OF WHAT THEY NEED TO HELP THEMSELVES TO FEEL HEALTHY. THERE ARE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN PEOPLE. THE FACT IS ALL PEOPLE CAN BENEFIT FROM MEDITATIVE BREASTS. -- MEDITATIVE BREATH. SHAYNA: HE SIGNED UP FOR THIS CLASS. >> THERE IS LESS WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE, NOT DRAGGING THE TEST AROUND AND I FEEL PRESENT. SHAYNA: DO YOU FEEL BETTER AFTERWARDS? >> I REALLY DO. >> YOU HAVE TO BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU ARE FEELING, WHAT YOU ARE THINKING. IT COMES DOWN TO AWARENESS. MEDITATION IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO JUST SIT, CLOSE YOUR EYES, NOTICE WHAT IS HAPPENING INSIDE. SHAYNA: JENNIFER HARVEY OWNS LAUGHING DOG YOGA STUDIO WHERE THE CLASSES ARE POPULAR. >> PEOPLE SAY I AM STRESSED OUT. I NEED TO DESTRESS. YOGA AND MEDITATION REALLY HELP PEOPLE DO THAT. IT CHANGES YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM. SHAYNA: THIS INSTRUCTOR CREDITS THE PRACTICE FOR OVERCOMING A SERIES OF CHALLENGES. >> I WAS 19, 20, GOING THROUGH A FAIRLY NORMAL MID TO LATE COLLEGIATE CONFUSION ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH MY WIFE AND STARTED MEDITATING. LATER ON MY BEST FRIEND DIED, AND MEDITATION KEPT ME HANGING ON. I HAD NON-HODGKINS LYMPHOMA WHEN I WAS 28. YOGA WAS INTEGRAL FOR HEALING. SHAYNA: HOW HAS THIS HELPED YOU GET THROUGH THIS EXPERIENCE? >> THE MEDITATION WHICH CAN CLEAR THE SLEET AND BRING YOU BACK TO CENTER. ZONING IN, YOU ARE BECOMING PRESENT. YOU ARE BECOMING MORE REALISTIC, NOT LEAVING REALITY. SHAYNA: WHY DO PEOPLE MEDITATE? >> THE VARIOUS LOGISTICS AND PARAMETERS COULD FEEL LIKE THEY ARE PULLING YOU APART, MEDITATION MEANS THE THINGS YOU ARE EXPERIENCING ARE THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING BUT YOUR SENSE OF OK IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE OWNERSHIP FOUR. SHAYNA: MARGUERITE SAYS THE BENEFITS ARE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL. >> STRESS LIVES AND OUR BODIES AND CREATES TENSION AND HEADACHES. MEDITATION FOR ALL OF THOSE BRINGS IT DOWN, BRINGS IT IN. IT ALLOWS YOU CLARITY FOR FINDING WHAT IS IMPORTANT. IT HELPS YOU TO JUST RELAX INTO YOUR DAY. SHAYNA: I NEED A LITTLE OF THAT. >> [LAUGHTER] WE ALL DO. ANTHONY: EVERYONE EXPERIENCES MEDITATION DIFFERENTLY. WHAT WAS YOURS LIKE? SHAYNA: RELAXING BUT NOT LIKE A NAFF. THEY WANT YOU TO NOT THINK ABOUT THE PAST OR PRESENT WHICH WAS HARD. TO GET INTO THAT PLACE. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, YOU DONT NEED TO TAKE A CLASS. THERE ARE TONS OF BOOKS AND APPS TO GET IT STARTED. ANTHONY: THINK TWICE FOR SKIPPING THE WORKOUT.

Is meditation good for health?

Updated: 12:33 PM EST Jan 3, 2020

Is your mind drifting to the past? Are you worried about the future? Meditation might be a way to train yourself to be present. https://www.drkarenruskin.com/https://www.ldyoga.com/

Is your mind drifting to the past? Are you worried about the future? Meditation might be a way to train yourself to be present.

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GUEST COLUMN: Meditation key to finding Light of God – Tuscaloosa News

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In meditation God will spoon-feed you at your own pace. He will give you no more than you can handle at one time. Then sometime he might knock your lights out with an overwhelming realization.

I was very happy to see your editorial by Erick Erickson in your Saturday Jan. 4 edition about eternity.

But, what is the eternal? I could illustrate by asking you what time it is. You might look at your watch and tell me the time. Then days or months later I might ask you again, what time is it? Again you look at your watch and give me the time.

In term of the material world both answers are correct. In terms of the eternal, both answers are wrong. Because in the eternal the answer is always the same. It is now. It has always been now and always will be now.

RELATED: What is meditation?

When your body dies and falls away from your soul you will be left with nothing but your soul, which is who you really are, the soul, which is a part of God himself and like God your soul is eternal. It had no beginning and it has no end.

You take nothing but your soul with you at death but your soul does have baggage. This baggage is called kharma and dharma. Kharma will weigh you down and is the result of your selfishness in life. Selfishness is the root of all evil. Dharma is the result of all your attempts to seek God. Every time you walk into a church you acquire dharma. The balance of kharma and dharma will influence the conditions of your next rebirth.

You can experience the eternal in your own body through meditation. You want the kind of meditation that will reveal the light of God to you. All that is required is to sit, and be still, and concentrate on the God within you. Remember Exodus when God said to Moses, Be still and know that I am God.

RELATED: Meditation apps might calm you but miss the point of Buddhist mindfulness

In meditation God will spoon-feed you at your own pace. He will give you no more than you can handle at one time. Then sometime he might knock your lights out with an overwhelming realization.

Ive had people who are already in meditation ask me to help them find God. I tell them you have already found God. You found him on your first day of meditation. All that is required now is for you to meditate enough that you finally realize that.

God is right there under your nose but God being the most powerful thing in the universe, he is also the most subtle. You can go a thousand lifetimes and never figure it out for yourself. The mind is of the brain and the brain is of the body, and the body is of the material world. It is totally incapable of discerning the eternal.

RELATED: Thoughts on meditation: Local experts offer suggestions for everyday life

But your conscientiousness can because it is not of the brain or body, it is of the soul which is eternal and can therefore comprehend its own nature through meditation.

Babba Ram Das wrote the book titled Be Here Now. It is highly recommend. I can also recommend the Tao Te Ching bay Lao Tzu.

William Roberts Helms is a resident of Fort Walton Beach.

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I Gave Up on Meditating, and It Feels Great – The Cut

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Its been about five months since I paid attention to my breathing. For almost half a year, Ive neglected to carefully observe my breath, and yet my breath has still come in and out, and in and out, etc. a fact of which I am only passively aware because I am here, now, alive, typing these words. Not only am I alive, but I feel fine.

I started meditating about four years ago, after a friend of mine suggested it. I meditated almost every day, noticing each in breath and out breath (or at least trying to), noticing my thoughts and letting them go (or at least trying to). Most of those days, it didnt really do anything for me. The alarm on my phone would go off after 10 or 20 minutes, and Id feel pretty much the same as when I started.

But article after article on pop-science websites assured me that meditation would better me in every possible way. I would be less anxious, more focused. I would be kinder, healthier. My skin would be clearer, my stomach flatter. I would feel happy, I convinced myself. I would be a better friend, a better writer. I would be patient. When that girl from college captioned another photo of herself doing Pilates with a quote from Nelson Mandela, I would either ignore it or simply mute her account instead of screenshotting it and texting it to my friends with the message, Shoot me into the sun.

I desperately wanted to be the person I thought meditation would make me, and I feared becoming the person Id be or rather, the person Id remain if I stopped. So I meditated over and over and over again, sometimes sitting up, sometimes lying down, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening, sometimes while squished between masses of arms, stomachs, and backpacks on the rush-hour 2 train.

Occasionally, meditation would help me achieve a sense of calm. Id spend the rest of the day on a high, feeling pleasantly, magnanimously superior to those poor souls around me who probably hadnt yet unlocked the power of mindfulness. Other times, Id finish my meditation feeling worse because Id spent the whole attempt berating myself for not being able to quiet my mind, and then berating myself for berating myself, and then thinking, I dont need to follow this train of thought, and then thinking, Jesus, I sound like an asshole, and then going through my to-do list for the day, getting progressively more stressed. Some days, when I was trying to meditate in the morning, Id just fall asleep again.

I didnt consciously set out to stop meditating. I just had other stuff going on. I quit drinking, I started kickboxing, I went hiking, I took writing classes, I read more. All of these things took me out of my head and made me feel more present than meditation ever did. Occasionally, I feel calm. Sometimes, I feel bad. Some mornings, I fall asleep again. My skin is fine good, not great. Im still impatient. I try to let other people bother me less but I still shit-talk that girl from college. I would like to improve these things about myself, but Im less stressed about it. Ive got other things going on.

None of this is a knock against meditation, which is a helpful tool for a lot of people. I was setting myself up for failure by looking for a panacea in the first place. Im just telling you this now, as we enter into a new year and a new decade, and as we reflect on the habits we want to shed or bring with us, to say that if there is a wellness trend you have been laboriously trying to get into for the past month, or the past four years, something you have been promised will improve your life in every way, even though it hasnt so far, consider just letting it go. Do stuff you actually enjoy instead. Itll be fine.

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