By ABC NEWSJanuary 12, 2016 9:28 AM
The practice of meditation is growing in popularity, with millions of Americans — from all walks of life – taking up the practice and corporations such as Google, Target and General Mills bringing mindfulness to the workplace.
“Good Morning America” visited Unplug Meditation Studio in Los Angeles and talked with owner Suze Yalof Schwartz about meditation’s popularity.
“What’s happening right now is there are all these incredible trends in meditation,” she said, mentioning vibrations, sound healing, crystal healing and aromatherapy meditations.
For some, group meditation classes have become the latest after-work hot spot, and people who don’t have time for a drop-in session can consult the hundreds of meditation apps that offer guided sessions that they can do anywhere and at any time.
Research proves that meditation doesn’t just relax you; it can physically change your brain for the better.
ABC News anchor Dan Harris wrote a book about how meditation can make someone “10% happier,” and “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts also meditates.
“As we showed in ‘Super Genes,’ actually meditation changes your gene expression so within one week of meditation you see a 40 percent increase in the enzyme called telomerase, which is an anti-aging enzyme,” said Chopra, who co-authored the book “Super Genes” with Dr. Rudolph Tanzi.
“All the genes that are responsible for self-regulation and healing go up, sometimes seventeen-fold. All the genes that are responsible for inflammation go down. Inflammation is associated with many diseases,” Chopra said. “This is at the genetic level but besides that, it helps you sleep better, improves your relationships, gets rid of stress.”
Chopra, 69, said meditation changed his own life decades ago when he was a 30-year-old medical resident.
“I was smoking cigarettes, occasionally getting sloshed and totally stressed and stressing out my patients,” Chopra said on “GMA.” “When I started meditation, I started to lose my cravings and I settled down and I decided I was going to teach it.”
Chopra also took questions from “GMA” audience members of varying levels of meditation experience.
Kelsey Schobert asked how to prevent random thoughts from popping up into her head during meditation.
“Okay, you don’t. You don’t worry about that because trying to quiet a thought is a thought in itself. We think as long as we are alive. If you’re not thinking, you’re either comatose or dead, so you don’t try to get rid of thoughts,” Chopra said. “Meditation has two aspects to it: the inward stroke, where you go in the direction of your inner being, and the outward stroke, which is thought, and so you’re bobbing up and down.”
Sabyna Passi asked Chopra how to find time in a busy schedule to practice meditation, and if there is a proper place to practice.
“Sitting is best. If you’re lying down you might fall asleep, which means you need sleep anyway,” Chopra said. “Anytime is good. Anytime. Anywhere. Even in a bus or a train or a plane. You just have to be comfortable.”
Jennifer Chang, who said she’s been meditating for a while, asked what the next step was for an experienced meditator. In response, Chopra led Chang and the other audience members in an exercise to help heighten creativity and self-awareness, asking them how they know if they’re aware.
“The question, ‘Are you aware?,’ is a thought. The answer, ‘Yes,’ is a thought. In between is your inner being, awareness,” Chopra said. “You can live here. You don’t have to live anywhere else, in the center of your being, and then no matter what the situation is, no matter how chaotic the world is, you never lose your peace. Your equanimity is grounded here so try to live here, in the presence of your being.”