You've probably heard how meditation is the next best thing to a spa vacation when it comes to producing brain changes that lower stress and boost mood. Monks who spend thousands of hours chanting with their eyes closed reshape their brains this way. That's why it's good news for busy caregivers that the brain benefits of meditation can show up on EEG testing after just five weeks of a little over an hour of meditation a week, according to a report in a 2011 issue of Psychological Science.
How to do it? Here's what researchers in the study told subjects: "Relax with your eyes closed, and focus on the flow of your breath at the tip of your nose; if a random thought arises, acknowledge the thought and then simply let it go by gently bringing your attention back to the flow of your breath." Try half an hour, twice a week to start.
-- Paula Spencer Scott