You don't have to become a monk to learn from one, says Dr. Wendy Suzuki, professor of neural science and psychology at New York University. Research into how meditation affects the brain is conclusive: Meditating immediately changes the frequency of your brain waves and, after five years, increases the size of white matter bundles in the prefrontal cortex.
But Suzuki's best advice is to start small. In her book, Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain and Do Everything Better, she explains that 20 minutes of daily meditation was too large a commitment. So instead of reordering your life, she recommends practicing basic mindfulness exercises like concentrating on your breathing patterns. This technique will help you build your meditation muscle, and start you down a more peaceful and purposeful path.
Keep an ear out for Dr. Suzuki on Think Again, a Big Think podcast that takes guests out of their comfort zone and has been called "truly spontaneous." For the upcoming July 4th episode, Suzuki discusses what motivates our behaviors, good and bad, and how it's easier than ever to give into what she calls "positive temptations." So if you leave feeling tempted to meditate — go on, give in.