Could your cognitive skills use a boost? Surprisingly, a short period of meditation may be enough to help you think more clearly. A new study shows that a meditation technique known as mindfulness meditation not only improves cognitive skills, but increases attention span and focus as well.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is a meditation technique that uses relaxation and breathing to refocus the mind on the present. To use this technique, you would simply relax in a quiet area with eyes closed and breathe deeply while relaxing the mind and focusing only on the present. Thoughts of the past of future – even stressful ones – should be allowed to enter the mind and accepted without judgment or reaction as the focus remains on breathing, deep relaxation, and the present experience. In this way, the mind learns not to react to stressful thoughts or distractions, but to stay focused on the here and now. This technique is easy to learn and can be done almost anywhere.
Can Mindfulness Based Meditation Improve Cognitive Skills?
A group of volunteers received mindfulness meditation training for twenty minutes a day for four days. They were then divided into two groups. Half of the group did mindfulness meditation, while the rest listened to a book that was read aloud to them. Afterwards, both groups took a series of test to measure their attention skill, memory, mood, and thinking skills.
The results? The group who engaged in mindfulness based meditation improved their cognitive skills, while the other group did not – although both groups experienced an overall improvement in mood. The group who participated in mindfulness meditation did especially well on cognitive tests that required them to process information quickly and on tests where focused attention was required.
How Does Mindfulness Meditation Improve Cognitive Skills?
Researchers believe that mindfulness based meditation boosts thinking skills and increases attention span by teaching the mind to ignore distractions that interfere with the brain’s ability to process information. After mindfulness meditation training, people are better able to tune out thoughts, sights, and noises that can interfere with the ability to think and make decisions. The researchers in this study emphasized that mindfulness based meditation must be practiced on a regular basis to keep cognitive skills sharp.
Other Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation has the added benefit of reducing stress levels and boosting immune function.
The Bottom Line?
Mindfulness mediation is not only a great stress reliever, but it helps to improve cognitive skills as well. There are a variety of DVD’s demonstrating this easy-to-learn cognitive boosting technique.