10 Minutes of Meditation = Better Focus
Practicing mindfulness meditation may help keep you focused on what you should be doing, especially when anxiety churns up repetitive worries. A new study from Canada’s University of Waterloo found that only 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation can provide significant benefits in productivity. Researchers recruited 82 undergraduate students described as “highly anxious” and assigned them to a computer task that required sustained attention. Following that, the students were randomly assigned to a 10-minute meditation exercise or to a control group that did not meditate. Then both groups were asked to repeat the computer task. The results indicate that mindfulness training prevented mind wandering and helped the students in the meditation group shift their attention from their internal worries so that they could better focus on the task at hand. Study leader Mengran Xu noted that mind wandering accounts for nearly half of any person’s daily stream of consciousness and that for people with anxiety, repetitive off-task thoughts can negatively affect the ability to learn, complete tasks, or even function safely.
My take? Mindfulness meditation is the technique of bringing all of our awareness to the here and now, to the immediate sensations in our body and to the breath, for example, rather than letting much of it slip away in contemplation of the past and future or of other unrealities. The assumption is that when we act with full awareness, our actions are more likely to achieve what we intend and that when we feel with full awareness, we are more likely to be fulfilled. We know that mindfulness meditation is effective for quelling anxiety. This new study demonstrated how quickly and effectively the technique can be used to help dispel distracting worries that get in our way.
Mengran Xu et al, “Mindfulness and mind wandering: The protective effects of brief meditation in anxious individuals.” Consciousness and Cognition, May 2017; 51: 157 DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2017.03.009
Also in this week’s bulletin:
If you are tired of too many prescriptions – and have had enough of taking medications for ailments that may not require them – then my new book may be for you: Mind Over Meds looks at the problem of overmedication, the science that shows drugs aren’t always the best option, as well as helpful, reliable integrative medicine approaches.