When discussing meditation as a health benefit, many people may suspect that months if not years of training are required, necessitating the use of all manner of special courses, books, and other learning materials. While the quest to achieve expert meditation practice may indeed be a long one, new research has found that even a brief introduction to mindfulness meditation can have positive benefits for cognition and mood. As meditation is often used in conjunction with psychotherapy or is suggested to those in search of a way to improve their overall well-being, the findings may prove valuable in their suggestion that meditation doesn’t have to involve a big time commitment in order to be effective.
The researchers, based at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, worked with a group of nearly fifty participants who were assigned either to a reading group in which participants heard readings from a popular book, or to a mindfulness meditation group, in which basic principles of the practice were shared. Meditation participants met for four days and received only twenty minutes of training. Prior to and following these activities, participants were given a battery of tests to assess their mood and a range of cognitive abilities, and while both were able to boost mood, only the meditation group experienced a rise in performance in cognitive tasks.
Those who participated in the meditation group were also up to ten times as proficient with certain tests involving focus and the attention, suggesting that the practice may have especially important implications for improving focus-related tasks. The results warrant further study into the capabilities of meditation, and may also make the practice feel more accessible to those who are curious but who may have shied away from meditation because of doubts over their potential to master the skill.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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