You might be able to meditate your way to a sharper mind, science says


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The wide-ranging restorative powers of meditation give proof to the power of your mind—and the direct link between the mind and body. The ancient practice is widely accepted for promoting mindfulness, and new research has found that one particular facet of it can also seriously improve your brain function: According to the study, your breath might be able to reinforce your ability to focus and also boost brain health.

Breathing techniques, as seen in meditation practices, could be used to combat focus-related conditions and boost a person’s ability to pay attention.

Published in the journal Psychophysiology, the research found that breathing patterns are connected to the production of noradrenaline—a chemical your brain produces when you’re challenged, curious, focused, or emotionally aroused. When noradrenaline is produced in certain quantities, it can actually act as a “brain fertilizer,” enhancing the mind’s ability to think clearly, according to the press release.

The study’s researchers observed participants who were tasked with completing activities requiring intense focus. Ultimately, the participants who focused well showed a greater synchronization between their breath and their focus than those with weaker attention spans. These results imply that “the way we breathe directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.” Furthermore, breathing techniques, as seen in meditation practices, could be used to combat focus-related conditions like ADHD and boost a person’s ability to pay attention.

“Put simply, this means that our attention is influenced by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration,” lead author of the study Michael Melnychuk, PhD, says.

So, if you can’t seem to accomplish your task at hand, try taking a moment to breathe deeply and slowly, and see where that takes you. Hey, at the very least, the practice might do wonders for your immune system.

If you can’t find the time to meditate, here’s how to get in a quick session à la ballerina Isabella Boylston and how to do a walking meditation.

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