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What did you do last week to simplify your life? This week, we continue our Stop the Madness series and explore sensing. This is the ability to tune out noise and other distractions so that we can focus on how energy, light, and the beauty around us can change us. Most think of this as meditation.

The practice of meditation has been around for thousands of years. Still, we’re just starting to figure out how this seemingly simple practice can change our bodies and minds in big ways. Just like with physical exercise, the more often you work out, the more benefits you’ll see and the longer they will last. Meditation is the same—it is not the act of sitting idly, trying hard to do nothing. It usually involves finding a focus, like the breath, noticing when the mind wanders, and bringing it back to the focus.

Through meditation, we get to know how our minds work and improve our ability to control how we feel about our surroundings, rather than letting our surroundings decide how we feel about life. With recent neuroscientific findings, meditation has been shown to rewire brain circuits that boost mind and body health. The amazing thing about meditation is that, on top of affecting brain functioning, it can have both short-term and long-term benefits in both the brain and body. A Harvard study showed that eliciting the body’s relaxation response could even affect our genes—in just minutes. They found that meditating, even just once, could slow down the genes involved in the inflammatory response and boost the genes that help keep DNA stable. Other short-term benefits include reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and improving attention.   It’s pretty clear that by establishing a consistent practice, we can experience enduring health benefits.

Something to Think About
It’s been proven that just five minutes of meditation per day can have all the health benefits listed above, so why don’t we make the time to keep ourselves healthy?

Weekly Challenge
Take time each day to get quiet and block everything out for five minutes at the beginning of your day and five minutes at the end of your day. You can download meditation music and have someone guide you through the process.

Words of Wisdom
Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day. – Deepak Chopra

In dwelling, be close to the land. In meditation, go deep in the heart. In dealing with others, be gentle and kind. In speech, be true. In ruling, be just. In daily life, be competent. In action, be aware of the time and the season. – Lao Tzu

Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who implement them are priceless. – Mary Kay Ash

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius

At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I’ve made mountains out of molehills. With meditation, I can keep them as molehills. – Ringo Starr

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