A number of people called my attention to the December 15 NY Times The Power of Concentration article written by Maria Konnikova on the topic of mindfulness.
As I read it, I noticed certain parallels with my December 8 2-Minute Meditation blog post, mainly that there is recent research that shows that as little as 5 minutes of mindfulness per day can help regulate moods by creating a happier outlook.
In this article, Maria Konnikova mentions that “Though the concept originates in ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese traditions, when it comes to experimental psychology, mindfulness is less about spirituality and more about concentration: the ability to quiet your mind, focus your attention on the present, and dismiss any distractions that come your way.
The formulation dates from the work of the psychologist Ellen Langer, who demonstrated in the 1970s that mindful thought could lead to improvements on measures of cognitive function and even vital functions in older adults.”
Besides the research that shows that only 5 minutes a day of mindfulness can help to regulate moods by creating a happier outlook, she also references University of Washington research that examined the effects of meditation training on multi-tasking in a real-world setting with human resources professionals. They found that those people who had received mindfulness training reported fewer negative emotions after the multi-tasking assignment and said that their concentration improved significantly. They were able to stay on a task longer and worked more efficiently. Improved moods and concentration are not the only benefits.
Ms. Konnikova goes on to describe a 2012 University of Emory study that showed how mindfulness improves connectivity inside our brain’s attentional networks that help to save us from distraction, and help us to monitor our feelings, thoughts and external environment. Mindfulness gives you the resources you need to speed up your thinking, and practicing attentional control, your brain becomes more efficient at coordinating multiple tasks, no matter what your age. Maria Konnikova: “The implications are tantalizing. Mindfulness may have a prophylactic effect: it can strengthen the areas that are most susceptible to cognitive decline. When we learn to unitask (…) we may be doing more than increasing our observational prowess. We may be investing in a sounder mental future — no matter how old we are.”
This week, a client highly recommended this free introductory mindfulness course and said it was very thoughtful, well done and not tied to any particular religion –