Brief mindfulness training significantly improves cognition. How brief? Just 4 days!
Although advantageous to well-being, programs such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or integrative body mind training require a commitment. They take time and they often take money.
A study that compared an experiment group given mindfulness meditation training and a control group that listened to a book on tape. These participants had no previous meditation experience. Their mood, verbal fluency, visual coding, and working memory were measured.
The result? Just 4 days of 20 minute brain training sessions can significantly enhance attention.
Participants with brain training were able to maintain their focus and accurately retrieve information from their working memory. Even when under stress, participants were able to retrieve information faster than those who had no training.
Participants improved the vigilance and efficiency of their higher-order executive processes. The study also found that participants were able to improve their visuospatial processing and verbal fluency. They were also able to retrieve information from their working memory and their long-term memory more efficiently.
The group that received mindfulness training was significantly better at reducing their levels of anxiety and fatigue. There were also improvements to their overall mood, which may have improved their ability to process information. It’s believed that mood reduces the degree a mind wanders when given a specific task, and that leads to an improvement in a person’s overall attention and focus.
With practice, a person can learn to take the emotion out of distractions.
Mindfulness practice promotes cognitive insight. With practice, a person can learn to take the emotion out of distractions. Without getting caught up in feelings of frustration or anxiety, it’s easier to let a distraction pass and regain attention on the task at hand. This improvement in focus leads to better performance.
While short term mindfulness training won’t have the benefits of extensive regiments, these findings are able to conclusively illustrate its immediate, short-term benefits.