Alyssa Dougherty


Closing your eyes with intention can be transformative. The sound of your breath amplifies in your nose and throat; your senses sharpen to taste, touch, and scent. The external world melts away for a moment as you withdraw into yourself. Your stream of consciousness, now unveiled, reveals the magnitude of thoughts, emotions, and memories you might normally push aside or attempt to silence. Feelings of deep relaxation take hold, and you may even drift into a few minutes of sleep. Whatever your meditative experience involves, the longer you allow yourself to stay in this altered state of consciousness, the more profound the physiological response in your body: from lowered blood pressure to a strengthened immune system and altered gene expression, pain relief and increased energy, reduced performance anxiety and improved creativity. Most impressive is meditation’s ability to target and release stress, a positive shift that directly affects your gut health and the trillions of microorganisms that make up your microbiome.…