This is one of the primary benefits of any form of meditation, says Patty Arcari, PhD, RN, program manager of meditation and mindfulness programs at the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. ‘The brain has been called the master organ of the stress response,’ she explains. ‘Meditation takes the focus away from our brain and causes us to bring attention to another point of focus so our mind doesn’t engage our body in stress physiology.’ This is true no matter what form of meditation that you practice, she says.
The difference between the various techniques is what you focus on instead of your negative thoughts. ‘With transcendental meditation (TM), it’s a mantra. With guided imagery, it is visualization and with deep breathing meditation, the focus is on your breath not your mind,’ she says. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day is enough to take the edge off, but more is better, she adds. (Here are some other benefits of meditation you might not know about.) Apps can help you develop a practice that fits into your life and lifestyle. Some such as Insight Timer are free, while others like Headspace offer free trials, but will involve a paid subscription if you get hooked.