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10 Percent Happier

How would you like to be 10 percent happier and reduce your allergies? It might only take 5-10 minutes a day. Sounds like a good return on your time investment, doesn’t it?

You can accomplish these returns by meditating, according to Dan Harris, Good Morning America weekend co-host and author of 10 % Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head; Reduced My Stress without Losing My Edge. After years of cynicism, Harris became a regular practitioner of daily meditation and discovered its many benefits.

“I do it because it makes me 10 percent happier.” That became Harris’ slogan whenever questioned about why he meditates. As he found out, there are many benefits to a regular practice of meditation.

Meditation has been extensively studied by scientists who have found it can reduce levels of stress hormones and boost the immune system. It also can have a beneficial effect on many conditions/issues including:

• Depression
• Drug addiction
• Binge eating
• Smoking cessation
• Stress among cancer patients
• Loneliness among senior citizens
• Asthma
• Allergies
• Psoriasis

Scientists have looked directly into the brains of those who practice meditation with MRIs. Those subjected to study had thicker gray matter in the areas of the brain associated with self-awareness and compassion. The regions of the brain associated with stress were diminished.

Here’s what you do once you have resolved to meditate 5-10 minutes per day:

1.Sit comfortably: You don’t have to sit cross-legged. Sit in a chair, on a cushion, on the floor, whatever’s comfortable. Make sure your spine is reasonably straight.

2.Feel the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out. Pick a spot: nostrils, chest, gut. Focus your attention there and really try to feel the breath. Help direct your breath with a soft mental note such as “in” and “out.”

3.Whenever your attention wanders, just forgive yourself and gently come back to the breath. It’s kind of like a game to catch your mind wandering and then come back to the breath, over and over.

Harris encourages readers to give this “brain exercise” a try with the goal of “taming the runaway train of the mind.”

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