How to Beat Stress and Angst Through Meditation

Turning your focus inward offers more health benefits than simply relieving anxiety.

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Experts and practice centers that can serve as sources of meditation training are becoming easier to find. One of the best known and most studied programs is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, which started at the University of Massachusetts Medical School nearly 30 years ago and is now offered by certified instructors at centers around the world. (You can see if there is one in your area at umassmed.edu/cfm/mbsr.) The program brings together a group of people once a week for eight weeks to learn sitting and walking meditation practices and gentle yoga stretches. For those who would rather learn on their own, books, tapes, and CDs are available from Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts and creator of the MBSR program, at mindfulnesstapes.com. They can help do-it-yourselfers learn the ropes.

No amount of meditating can magically erase the stress of losing a job or a loved one. But it can help people cope. "It can transform the emotional brain in ways that promote higher levels of resilience [and] less vulnerability and affect the body in ways that can improve health," says Davidson. All that for just minutes a day? Even a shellshocked investor would have to admit: That sounds like a good deal.