For some people, the concept of meditation brings up an image of someone sitting still for an hour or more at a time. The doesn’t have to be the case, however, for someone to benefit from meditation.
According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation can change your day completely by relieving stress and relaxing the body. This study, the researchers say, is the first work to concentrate on days-long training programs instead of weeks-long training programs.
“More and more people report using meditation practices for stress reduction, but we know very little about how much you need to do for stress reduction and health benefits,” commented lead author J. David Creswell, associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, in a statement released by the university.
For their research, the team had 66 healthy adults participate in a three-day experiment. One group of participants meditated for 25 minutes per day for three consecutive days, while the second group of individuals participated in a three-day cognitive training program.
At the end of the experiment, the participants were asked to complete stressful speech and math tasks in front of judges. They were then asked to report their stress levels in response to the tasks. The researchers also obtained saliva samples to measure cortisol levels.
The researchers discovered that the individuals who meditated reported lowered stress perceptions to the speech and math tasks. Interestingly, those in the meditation group had higher cortisol levels when compared to the individuals who participated in the cognitive training program.
“When you initially learn mindfulness mediation practices, you have to cognitively work at it – especially during a stressful task,” explained Creswell. “And, these active cognitive efforts may result in the task feeling less stressful, but they may also have physiological costs with higher cortisol production.”