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Russell Simmons talks meditation and success in new book

It’s no secret meditation has many health benefits.

From lowering your blood pressure to increasing brain function and creativity – it can even give your immune system a boost. But did you know it can also make you more successful?

Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com sat down with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons to talk about how meditation changed his life for the better. Simmons’ newest book, “Success Through Stillness” was released this month.

“I found [meditation] 20 years ago, and it started with yoga, physical practice,” Simmons told FoxNews.com. “And I found it to be invigorating and instantly it affected the way that I reacted to the world, and I found myself to become more successful and happier.”

Stress has harmful effects on the body, worsening certain medical conditions and increasing cortisol production in the body. Cortisol is a hormone released into the bloodstream as part of the “fight or flight” response during stressful situations. While small amounts of it can be beneficial in providing bursts of energy, heightened cognitive function and lower sensitivity to pain, prolonged levels of the hormone from chronic stress can be damaging to the body and increase the risk for obesity and certain illnesses.   

Research has shown that meditation can help reduce the levels of cortisol in the bloodstream and increase immune response in the body. For Simmons, Transcendental Meditation has helped improve his cognitive function and balance his mental well-being.   

“…This idea of being present and awake and thoughtful. You know, when you're working you want to be here; worrying about results is useless,” he said. “Being present and awake and working hard is the key to success.”

One of the most common misconceptions about meditation is its association with certain religions, but Simmons noted that all religions embrace the ideals behind “stillness.”

“Every prophet has promoted stillness as one of the gateways to Christ's consciousness, to Nirvana, to Samadhi, to Taqua,” Simmons said. “No religious person can dispute the fact that their prophet ... promoted stillness as one of the gateways to happiness and … a relationship with ‘God’ … Sometimes a Rabbi, or an Imam or a preacher will give you bad advice; the Buddhists said ‘Look for yourself.’”

With his new book, Simmons aims to bring meditation into schools. By enlisting the help of some celebrity friends like Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, he hopes to create enough buzz around the importance of meditation to help students throughout the country.  

“I'm going to Chicago, I want to get Rahm Emanuel … to join me along with the chancellor of schools and give meditation to students,” Simmons said. “The violence in those communities — you know it reduces violence — so it's very important.”

Simmons said he views his book, “Success Through Stillness,” as a gift, or a service to those who read it. And it’s a gift that keeps on giving, because all the proceeds are donated to charity.

“… I wanted to demystify [meditation], make it simple for everyone,” he said. “And this book just does that. It's something that — you read it very quickly, it affects your life profoundly — and giving gifts ... that’s what we're here for.”