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  • Wendy Suzuki: We know a lot about or are growing our knowledge about the effects of meditation,

  • long-term meditation in people like monks that meditate for 50,000 hours in their lifetime.

  • And we know that this completely changes the electrophysiological responses of their brains.

  • They have much higher levels of what we call gamma waves, which is a particular frequency

  • of wave. Not only that but even their resting baselineeven when theyre not meditating

  • theyre brainwaves are more like meditation, the meditation kind of brainwaves than novice

  • people that don’t have any experience meditating. So it really changes both the baseline level

  • of physiological activity as well as the response when youre asked to actually meditate.

  • There are kind of two categories of studies that have been done on meditation. One on

  • these lifelong meditators, the monks, and the other category of studies on people like

  • you and me that started out with no meditation experience and started to meditate. And those

  • perhaps are more relevant studies for most people. And those studies have shown significant

  • improvements in attention functions with increased exercise. And also actual anatomical changes

  • in the brain with perhaps a little bit more experience with meditation, maybe five years

  • of meditation experience increased the size of white matter bundles in the prefrontal

  • cortex. So there are, you know, substantial, physiological, anatomical changes that have

  • been shown with meditation and there’s also effects on depressive symptoms. So decreases

  • of depressive symptoms, decreases in stress symptoms. So meditation is doing lots of positive

  • things. And some very, very similar to exercise and some slightly different. So I think there’s

  • definitely going to be a difference, but there’s overlapping positive functions that exercise

  • and meditation have on your general brain health.

  • How do you get to be a regular meditator and the answer is, I think, start very, very small.

  • I know, for myself, I have a subchapter in my book called Confessions of a Yo-yo Meditator

  • because I think I have tried all different kinds of meditation. And my big mistake early

  • on was to try and meditate for too long at a sitting. So I would try to meditate for

  • 20-25 minutes with no meditation experience. And it was a disaster. I forced myself to

  • do it for 30 days thinking that that would be it and I would form my habit. And day 31

  • I took a little break and I never came back. But then when I came back again starting very,

  • very small with things that, you know, I could just do on my ownjust breathing meditation.

  • Focusing on the breath. Something that we all do at the end of yoga classes. That’s

  • what really kind of helped me build my muscle. And I just had to stick with that very short

  • meditation and build it up that way. And I think people too often either start too long

  • or don’t stick with it enough. But again, shorter is better and I think that’s a key

  • for people that want to start to meditate.

Wendy Suzuki: We know a lot about or are growing our knowledge about the effects of meditation,

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