No matter how lucky or driven or talented you are, your life is full of problems. Some, you can solve. Others are completely beyond your control. Stress, the result of the ongoing psychological struggle with these problems, is linked not only with anxiety and depressive disorders, but with a host of physical illnesses including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Given our increasingly precise understanding of the many negative effects of stress, what can we do about it? While personal organizational strategies, workplace management practices, and political changes can significantly reduce some of the external stressors we face, they can never entirely eliminate the underlying cause of stress – our habitual reactions to the unpredictable demands of life. Psychopharmaceuticals are one option. Meditation's another. Recently, neuroscience has been exploring with increasing intensity the effects of meditation on the brain, testing the claim that the ancient practice can induce lasting states of calm that counteract the toxic effects of stress.