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The New Benefit of Mindfulness

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Pounding in your head? Be quiet: Meditation and mindfulness could ease your migraines, says new research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

In the small study, 19 people were either trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques—a mix of meditation, awareness of your body, and yoga—or given traditional medical care for eight weeks. The people in the mindfulness group attended weekly classes to learn best practices, and were told to practice for 45 minutes a day for at least five days a week on their own. The study participants noted their migraines, and the frequency, duration, and how painful each episode was too.

RELATED: Your Brain On: Meditation  

The results? People who practiced MBSR had approximately 1.4 fewer migraines a month (OK, not that much of a difference), but they also experienced episodes that were less severe than the group who received standard care. "Secondary effects included headaches that were shorter in duration and less disabling, and participants had increases in mindfulness and self-efficacy—a sense of personal control over their migraines,” Rebecca Erwin Wells, M.D., and the study’s lead author said in a press release.

Since stress has been linked to headaches and migraines (and just about everything else, right?), it makes sense that a stress-relieving activity like mindfulness could help send the pain of migraines packing. That’s not the only benefit either. The practice has been shown to help you lose weight, stay motivated, remain fit, and be happier. Hint: It's a good time to start!

In the study, participants saw benefits from a regular practice: five days a week, 45 minutes a day. But research has shown that even on a smaller scale, re-connecting with yourself and finding some peace and quiet has its ups. Here, your Beginner’s Guide to Meditation.

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