Patrick Slavens practices meditation. His ADHD and smoking habit didn't help. Then the former marine tried meditating
"I never thought I'd end up to be the warm, fuzzy, meditating kinda guy," Slavens said.
Dr. Richard J. Davidson, Psychology and Psychiatry Professor said, "It's the kind of thing that has very, very few downsides."
Davidson has been studying meditation for decades. A friend of the Dalai Lama, he's scanned the brains of Buddhist monks as they meditated.
He tells us the brain can actually make new connections; even grow new neurons in this state. It's called neuroplasticity.
He believes with practice, meditation can improve symptoms of social anxiety, phobias, and inflammatory problems like asthma or psoriasis.
"My own view is that it's best considered as an adjunct, it shouldn't be thought of as a replacement for conventional treatment," Davidson said.
A government panel just reviewed 34 meditation trials with 3,000 participants and found it can reduce chronic and acute pain. The evidence is weaker on mediation's effects on stress and anxiety, but the committee found there were benefits.
Slavens says thanks to meditation, he's quit smoking and has even stopped taking his ADHD medication.
"It really does work," Slavens said.
Studies show positive changes in the brain can occur in as little as two weeks, if you meditate every day for 30 minutes.