A study from Michigan State University found that meditation could help you make fewer mistakes.
The research tested how meditation that focuses awareness on feelings, thoughts or sensations could change brain activity to be more aware of possible errors.
“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits,” said Jeff Lin, MSU psychology doctoral candidate and study co-author. “But it’s amazing to me that we were able to see how one session of a guided meditation can produce changes to brain activity in non-meditators.”
More than 200 participants in the study tested how open monitoring meditation affected how people detect and respond to errors.
“Some forms of meditation have you focus on a single object, commonly your breath, but open monitoring meditation is a bit different,” Lin said. “It has you tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in your mind and body. The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery.”
The participants, who had never meditated before, were taken through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation exercise while the researchers measured brain activity through electroencephalography, or EEG.
While meditation and mindfulness have gained mainstream interest in recent years, Lin is among a relatively small group of researchers that take a neuroscientific approach to assessing their psychological and performance effects.
“It’s great to see the public’s enthusiasm for mindfulness, but there’s still plenty of work from a scientific perspective to be done to understand the benefits it can have, and equally importantly, how it actually works,” Lin said.