Get Benefits of Long-Term Meditation in Just Days?

It was about 10 years ago when research studies began to suggests that a little bit of physical activity could be good for you. Taking a short walk or even just climbing a flight of stairs might be heart-healthy. This was a big surprise for many as traditional wisdom was that you must work-out multiple times per week for many weeks to see benefits.

Now the same may be emerging for brain training at least in the area of mindfulness and meditative practice.  I am seeing studies that suggest a few days of training may produce what we once thought took months or years. The Science Daily Blog reports one such study, Brief Meditation Helps Cognition:

“Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness ” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.”

Specific improvements included increased mental energy, reduced anxiety and improved working memory, visual/spatial processing and executive functioning (attention, planning thinking).

Interestingly, no special training technique was used.

As described in the paper, “participants were instructed to relax, with their eyes closed, and to simply focus on the flow of their breath occurring at the tip of their nose. If a random thought arose, they were told to passively notice and acknowledge the thought and to simply let ‘it’ go, by bringing the attention back to the sensations of the breath.”  Subsequent training built on this basic model, teaching physical awareness, focus, and mindfulness with regard to distraction.

Mindfulness training is not as natural as climbing a flight of stairs or taking a walk but clearly it is something we can learn.  I am interested to hear from readers that practice mindfulness, especially how they were able to initially learn the technique.

Source: Image of Meditating Man