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Using modern technology like fMRI scans, scientists have developed a more thorough understanding of what’s taking place in our brains when we meditate, kind of similar to how scientists have previously looked at measuring creativity in our brains.

The overall difference is that our brains stop processing information as actively as they normally would. We start to show a decrease in beta waves, which indicate that our brains are processing information, even after a single 20-minute meditation session if we’ve never tried it before.”

This is your brain on meditation

It was like, oh my god, I can be so much more productive if I actually let my brain have a little downtime. When I get up in the morning I’m very sharp now. I can do things much faster. I’m much more focused. I feel much fresher. I feel like I used to feel before the Internet was popular.

-Kord Campbell, who recently participated in a digital detox hosted by Camp Grounded. We’ve collected stories from people who regularly unplug from their devices.

Here are the lessons they’re learning.

A Printable Guide To Unplugging

So you need to #unplug. You’re feeling overwhelmed by your gadgets—connected to your email list but not to your personal life. It’s time to take a break. It is precisely for times like these that we’ve created a guide to unplugging.

These step-by-step instructions will walk you through the difficult (but rewarding!) process of unplugging, from deciding when to unplug to informing your friends and coworkers that you’ll be offline for a while to avoiding the biggest temptations to plug back in. Here you’ll find advice from digital detoxing experts, business leaders, and our readers, whom we asked to use the #unplug hashtag to submit their best methods for logging off.

We encourage you to print these pages, and when you find yourself reaching for your phone, reach for this guide instead for tips on how to overcome the urge to use your devices. And when you’re ready to rejoin the digital world, come to FastCompany.com, and we’ll help you find the most seamless way to do so.

Let the detoxing begin!

After decades languishing in jars in the closet of an animal lab at the University of Texas, approximately 90 brains removed from mental patients are finally being documented—by a photographer and by college freshmen.

“Some of them are huge, some of them are really tiny. There was one that had no wrinkles at all,” says photographer Adam Voorhes. “I don’t even know how to explain it.”

View the collection

"I focus best on Friday when it is sunny out."
"Looks like classical music enhances my focus." 

Ever wondered just how focused (or not) you really are during the day? Melon could be your answer. This new headband measures your focus and then sends the results to your smartphone. The goal is to help you learn which environments and activities improve your focus. More info, and a demo video.

How To Be A Happy Freelancer
Ultimately, despite the downsides, job satisfaction is very strongly associated with mental health, and self-employment has often been associated with higher job satisfaction. So if freelancing is a good fit for you and your chosen career, it will probably tend to make you happier as well, especially if you follow these steps:
1. Draw strong lines between work and home. 

This is probably the hardest and also the most important step that freelancers can take to safeguard their mental health. What is technically called “work-home interference” has been shown to lead to a “spiral” of emotional that negatively affects both sides, the work and the home.
But anything you can do to keep regular hours and places for work will help with the interference problem. Have you considered working from a coworking space, a cafe, or a park bench?

2. Be free.

Researchers agree that psychologically, the way that self-employment contributes to higher job satisfaction is through greater autonomy, freedom, and independence. 
But in order to make this work for you, you have to exercise that right. Which of the projects you are working on right now are the ones you would do even if you weren’t getting paid? Is it possible to shift toward spending more time on those? On the flip side of autonomy, when was the last time you left work early to have lunch with a friend or go to the movies?

3. Be social.

Conferences, barcamps, panels, happy hours, meetups, Tweetups, book clubs, MOOCs—there is no shortage of ways to connect meaningfully with people in your field, feed your curiosity and to give back by mentoring newcomers. Social networks help "buffer stress".Helping others is good for mental health. And making connections with people will expose you to new ideas, which makes your work more interesting, which is a key dimension of job and life satisfaction.

4. Provide your own health care.

Of course you should purchase a health insurance plan to get care if you need it. But providing your own health care also means exercising, eating right, sleeping enough and all of the other basics of the mind-body connection. And it can save you money, too.

Here’s the full story. 
And here is Why Freelancers Are So Depressed
[Image: Flickr user Daveybot]

How To Be A Happy Freelancer

Ultimately, despite the downsides, job satisfaction is very strongly associated with mental health, and self-employment has often been associated with higher job satisfaction. So if freelancing is a good fit for you and your chosen career, it will probably tend to make you happier as well, especially if you follow these steps:

1. Draw strong lines between work and home. 

This is probably the hardest and also the most important step that freelancers can take to safeguard their mental health. What is technically called “work-home interference” has been shown to lead to a “spiral” of emotional that negatively affects both sides, the work and the home.

But anything you can do to keep regular hours and places for work will help with the interference problem. Have you considered working from a coworking spacea cafe, or a park bench?

2. Be free.

Researchers agree that psychologically, the way that self-employment contributes to higher job satisfaction is through greater autonomy, freedom, and independence. 

But in order to make this work for you, you have to exercise that right. Which of the projects you are working on right now are the ones you would do even if you weren’t getting paid? Is it possible to shift toward spending more time on those? On the flip side of autonomy, when was the last time you left work early to have lunch with a friend or go to the movies?

3. Be social.

Conferences, barcamps, panels, happy hours, meetups, Tweetups, book clubs, MOOCs—there is no shortage of ways to connect meaningfully with people in your field, feed your curiosity and to give back by mentoring newcomers. Social networks help "buffer stress".Helping others is good for mental health. And making connections with people will expose you to new ideas, which makes your work more interesting, which is a key dimension of job and life satisfaction.

4. Provide your own health care.

Of course you should purchase a health insurance plan to get care if you need it. But providing your own health care also means exercising, eating right, sleeping enough and all of the other basics of the mind-body connection. And it can save you money, too.

Here’s the full story. 

And here is Why Freelancers Are So Depressed

[Image: Flickr user Daveybot]

HOW ONE GENIUS GRANT WINNER BROUGHT CREATIVITY TO CAREGIVING

McHugh was inspired to start the organization [Caregifted] when her godson’s baby was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition that required him and his wife to drop their high-flying careers—he was an executive chef, she worked in the non-profit world—to return to the U.S. from Cambodia. That baby is almost two now, and according to McHugh, “They now struggle for money and time; many of their immediate professional and other hopes were extinguished; yet they act day in day out, instinctively and wholeheartedly, purely from love, to devote their efforts to the care of this child.”
She wants to honor that care, and also to give people like her godson a break. “What I can’t help seeing is how exhausted [he and his wife] may be in 10 years,” McHugh says, since they spend time every day of the week doing therapy with the child. Part of the deal with Caregifted is that while care givers are on their all-expenses paid vacation to gorgeous locations like Vancouver, Coastal Maine, or Napa Valley, they must record their visits, either through writing, photography, or another creative medium.

Read the full story here.
[Images: Flickr userWoodleywonderworks]

HOW ONE GENIUS GRANT WINNER BROUGHT CREATIVITY TO CAREGIVING

McHugh was inspired to start the organization [Caregifted] when her godson’s baby was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition that required him and his wife to drop their high-flying careers—he was an executive chef, she worked in the non-profit world—to return to the U.S. from Cambodia. That baby is almost two now, and according to McHugh, “They now struggle for money and time; many of their immediate professional and other hopes were extinguished; yet they act day in day out, instinctively and wholeheartedly, purely from love, to devote their efforts to the care of this child.”

She wants to honor that care, and also to give people like her godson a break. “What I can’t help seeing is how exhausted [he and his wife] may be in 10 years,” McHugh says, since they spend time every day of the week doing therapy with the child. Part of the deal with Caregifted is that while care givers are on their all-expenses paid vacation to gorgeous locations like Vancouver, Coastal Maine, or Napa Valley, they must record their visits, either through writing, photography, or another creative medium.

Read the full story here.

[Images: Flickr userWoodleywonderworks]