Can Meditation Improve Your Health?

When you hear the word meditation, you may think of sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed—breathing deeply and trying to clear your mind.

While it’s true that meditation often involves quiet and focused contemplation, the whole “empty your mind” thing is a misconception, says Dr. Judson Brewer, director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center. “Meditation is not about emptying our minds or stopping our thoughts, which is impossible,” Brewer says. “It’s about changing our relationships to our thoughts.”

Doing so may help some stress-related health conditions, including those related to the gut. Here’s what you need to know about meditation and what to expect from the practice.

Excerpted from Time

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