People spend nearly half of their waking hours not thinking about what they are actually doing, according to a US study conducted via the iPhone.
More than 2,200 volunteers downloaded an app which then surveyed them about their thoughts and mood at random times of day and night.
The Science study suggested minds wander, even from demanding tasks, at least 30% of the time.
The idea that meditation is good for you is certainly not new, but scientists are still trying to figure out exactly why meditating so reliably improves mental and physical health. One old theory is that meditation is just like exercise: it trains the brain as if gray matter were a bundle of muscles. You work those muscles and they get stronger.
A recent paper in the journal Psychological Science tries to identify brain functions that are actually enhanced by meditating. The study shows that intensive meditation can help people focus their attention and sustain it — even during the most boring of tasks. But while participants who meditated were able to pick up visual cues … Read more »
I’ve been meaning to mention an article I read recently in the Harvard Business Review, called How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking. It’s by Peter Bregman, and it explains, as the title suggests, how and why he stopped multitasking and started paying attention to one thing at a time (what I’ve called “uni-tasking”).
Bregman lists some of the benefits he experienced, and I’ve summarized those below (but do go and read the full article, which expands on these points).
For people who have difficulty staying on task, intensive meditation may help.
So say researchers from several campuses of the University of California, who had 30 participants attend a three-month retreat during which they practiced meditation for about five hours a day. Researchers then periodically tested the participants’ ability to stay focused when confronted with a boring visual task.
That chore was spending 30 minutes merely identifying long and short lines that flashed on a computer screen. Participants were given this test at the beginning, middle and end of the retreat and again five months later. The study also used a control group of 30 people who were familiar with meditation but came to the … Read more »
In a world where children are constantly exposed to stimulation, there is not enough silence. But a new children’s title, The Quiet Book creates a space of stillness in which children’s imagination and attention can grow.
I have two young children, who are going on two and four. We don’t have a television in the house, and toys that make electronic noises are banned. From time to time we get gifts of toys that beep or (the horror!) play electronic music, but they’re passed swiftly on to our local thrift store or, where the toy has some value, the batteries are removed. In at least one case we’ve explained to a giver, as politely as … Read more »
We have long believed that a cup of coffee every morning can make us more awake, yet a newly published study suggests that brief meditation can prepare us for the day just the same.
In past research, neuroimaging technology has shown that meditation techniques can promote significant changes in brain areas associated with concentration, but it was thought that the effect required extensive training to achieve.
However, according to the new research, the benefits may be achievable with much less effort. It suggests that the mind may be more easily trained to focus than we previously believed.
Psychologists found that participants who meditated for 20 minutes a day for four days showed an evident improvement … Read more »