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Meditation: A Surprisingly Easy, Heart Healthy Way to Relax

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Co-authored by Nieri Avanessian

I was a teenager when I was first introduced to the concept of meditation. At the time, as a typical teenager, I really didn't get it, didn't practice it much. Sports, school and friends took up most of my time and thoughts. But about 10 years ago I took meditation up in earnest, I am now a daily practitioner of transcendental meditation. Despite my hectic schedule, I always manage to carve out at least one 20 minute session each day, though twice a day is preferable. I have experienced so many benefits since making it a part of my daily routine. Meditation really helps me focus better, I'm calmer, my memory has improved, and so has my personal sense of inner peace and motivation.

Recently, though, I found out something amazing about meditation -- not only does it help mental health, but also physical health. Studies performed on people who practice transcendental meditation have shown that it can reduce pain better than morphine, treat depression, and also reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke by half. I never imagined at first that such a simple thing as relaxing your mind and body for a small portion of the day could lead to such staggering heart-and-soul-healthy benefits. New benefits to heart health are being discovered in the simplest techniques, and meditation is one that I strongly recommend to my friends, family and Harboring Hearts beneficiaries.

It's well documented that stress is a high factor in heart disease and related complications -- if you know anyone at risk of heart disease, tell them to look into meditation as a form of preventative care. With information and some lessons on all the varieties of meditation that there are out there, we can help everyone lead calmer and more focused lives.

The best part about meditation is that anyone can do it. It doesn't require any level of physical ability -- just a desire and willingness to strive for inner peace. The different styles of meditation are such that each person can choose a style that suits him or her best, whether it's visualization, mantra chanting, listening to soothing music or a combination.

Transcendental Meditation was specifically made popular in the 1950s and 60s by The Beatles -- George Harrison was a devout Buddhist, and introduced the practice to his band-mates. Since then, countless celebrities have taken to practicing meditation of all different types. Generally, they say it releases creative energy, and helps them steer clear of the "tabloid" lifestyle.

This may seem like just another time commitment each day to sit quietly and clear one's mind, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Imagine greater efficiency and productivity throughout your day -- the twenty to forty minutes would not be a loss, but a profound gain.

So try at least one 20 minute session every day for a week. Trust me -- once you feel how much it helps, you'll be very glad you started.

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