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Mindful : June 2018
A case for social meditation Meditation is often practiced alone, but two studies indicate that thinking of or being in the presence of others may confer different, and at times greater, benefits. Researchers in Leipzig, Ger- many, conducted two studies with 300 volunteers over nine months. In the first, an MRI showed that people who meditated alone by focusing on the breath or body had thickening of their prefrontal cortex, which is linked to attention control. Those who practiced loving-kindness meditation and then did a sharing and empathetic listening exercise with a partner had increases in the areas that process emotions and bring them into conscious awareness. The second study measured corti- sol levels among all participants, and found that those who meditated alone felt calm, but their cortisol levels didn’t change. In contrast, the people who practiced compassion meditation and shared with a partner experi- enced a 51% drop in cortisol. Finding the intervention both low-cost and effective, the research- ers concluded that meditating with a partner or group may hold promise for minimizing chronic social stress. Help your honey’s heart partner’s cardiovascular reactivity (as measured by spikes in blood pressure and heart rate) when the inevitable arguments ensue. In other words, the more mindful you are, the less likely your par tner is to experience potentially heart-harming physical changes during an argument. You probably already suspect that practicing mindfulness can help you stay cool when your par tner annoys you. But in a recent study of married couples and conflict, Florida State University researchers turned up a sur- prising twist: The higher one spouse’s level of mindfulness, the lower the other PHOTOGRAPHBYLEAHKELLY/PEXELS Top of Mind Things that spark our minds, touch our hearts, make us smile—or roll our eyes. Keep up with the latest in mindfulness. 10 mindful June 2018 what’s new