Meditation for modern life? New app Headspace promises to get you zen

Yahoo Lifestyle

Meditation - we know it's good for us but who actually does it?

Emma Watson, it turns out. So if you struggle to find the time or don't know where to start, it might be worth taking a leaf out of the Brit actress' book.

The Harry Potter star practices mindfulness using a smartphone app called Headspace, and loves it so much she's tweeted her fans encouraging them to have a go. And none other than Samantha Barks tweeted back, revealing she's a massive fan too.

It's got a reputation for being a bit hippy and is loved by Hollywood actresses with time on their hands but actually meditation and mindfulness have proven mental and physical health benefits for all of us.

Experts recommend meditation to reduce stress and anxiety, to boost our immune system and improve our ability to concentrate and focus on tasks in the here and now.

Headspace is described as meditation for modern life, fitting around current lifestyles and reacting to modern day stresses such as multitasking.

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Nick Begley from Headspace explains: "The average office worker changes windows on the computer an estimated 37 times an hour. So we stop doing something and we move onto another task, often quickly, leaving our brain still engrossed in our previous task, which leads to significantly reduced productivity.

"It's thought there could be up to a 40 per cent reduction in productivity because of this multitasking."

Learning to meditate and training your brain to deal better with these activities is key to improving your productivity.

Nick says: "Learning to focus the mind is potentially one of the most important things we can possibly do. Your ability to perform and learn is dependent on your ability to focus - it's a bigger indicator of success than IQ."

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Stress - the scourge of modern life - does damage to our brains because of the hormones it sends coursing through bloodstream. Meditating can help stem this damage by slowing your body down. It reduces your heart rate, breathing rate and gives your body the chance to recover.

Physically this helps to lower blood pressure and reduce stress-related disorders, and mentally it allows us to regain our focus and perspective.

Nick says: "Research has found that the mind wanders 47 per cent of the time - that's almost half of our lives spent thinking about something else.

"And mind wandering has been shown to lead to unhappiness. Mindfulness brings attention to what's going on in the moment - we don't try and change the thoughts but we change our relationship to them."

If your mind sometimes feels like a muddy pond, constantly rippled by thoughts, and you struggle to focus and concentrate, you might benefit from some mindfulness training. You can take the 10 day challenge for free at Headspace.