You probably already know about the myriad health benefits associated with a daily mindfulness practice. Meditation has been credited with everything from stress relief to weight loss and even increasing longevity. But finding the time and patience to actually implement a regular meditation practice can be intimidating. Who has 10—or even five—extra minutes in their busy schedule to just sit down and be? And when you actually do try it out, you might feel like you aren’t getting anything out of it.
Not to worry, though: Turns out, you can reap the brain-boosting benefits of meditation even if you haven’t made a regular habit of it. A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, found that just one 10-minute meditation session improved cognitive function and performance.
In the study, college students were asked to either listen to a 10-minute guided meditation or a control recording before taking a test. Students who had listened to the meditation performed significantly better than the control students. Interestingly, none of the students had meditated before the study, suggesting even a newbie can reap the benefits. Meaning: Just one session of mindfulness meditation can instantly boost your brain power, no experience necessary.
So if you have a test, job interview, or big presentation coming up, try taking 10 minutes to yourself for a quick meditation beforehand. You might just find you are cognitively sharper and—dare we say it?—smarter for it.
The benefits of meditation go beyond feeling smarter.
Some other cool benefits of meditation? Meditation can make you a better athlete. A recent study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that mindfulness meditation can improve recovery time, prevent athlete burnout, and increase motivation to exercise regularly—implying that meditation not only strengthens our minds but can help strengthen our bodies, as well.
In addition, meditation may make you a better romantic partner. A meta-analysis in the Journal of Human Sciences and Extension found that mindfulness improved relationship satisfaction and connectedness. It might even quell the occasional lover’s spat. Due to meditation’s positive influence on the area of the brain responsible for detecting threats and regulating emotions, it may help you keep your cool in an argument or stop it from happening in the first place. One study even found that mindfulness may deactivate parts of the brain associated with negative emotions and criticism.
Not into meditation yet? Here are some tips for starting your own practice.
Sold on meditation but not sure where to start? You can certainly use the 10-minute meditation trick for a quick brain boost. But if you are looking to start a long-term practice, here’s what some of our favorite experts recommend:
Functional medicine expert, mbg class instructor, and mbg Collective member Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, thinks the mind is one of the most neglected aspects of health. In fact, he prescribes meditation to all of his patients. He told us, “We can eat the healthiest foods in the world, chug kombucha, and throw back wheatgrass shots—but we can’t be truly healthy if we aren’t feeding our mind. What does it serve us if we’re eating organic but serving ourselves toxic thoughts and emotions?” To create a manageable meditation practice, Cole suggests starting small with just a few minutes a day, twice a day, and working your way up to 10 to 20 minutes.
This year, at revitalize, yoga teacher, mbg class instructor, and mbg Collective member Caley Alyssa led us through a guided meditation with yoga nidra. Sometimes referred to as “yogic sleep,” this relaxing form of meditative yoga is practiced by learning to allow the body to fall asleep while the mind remains awake. Yoga nidra can boost resilience and restore energy. If you are already a yogi, you may find this a nice transition to including more mindfulness practices into your routine.
If your mind is all over the place and you are worried you aren’t getting anything out of meditating, don’t sweat it. mbg class instructor and Vedic meditation teacher Light Watkins told us, “The mistake new meditators often make is to look for signs of success within the meditation itself. But success in meditation should not be measured by the frequency or content of your thoughts during the practice. True success can only be determined by what happens outside of your daily practice.” So keep at it, even if you don’t think you are doing it “right.”
Whether you are looking for a quick brain boost or long-term health benefits, meditation is the perfect addition to your wellness routine.