Meditation Can Help Improve Mental Awareness

If you make mistakes or are forgetful when hurried, a new study which is the largest in this field to date, has found that meditation can help a person be less error prone.

The study tested ways that open monitoring meditation altered activity in the brain in a way that has suggested increased recognition of error. This is meditation that puts the focus on awareness of thoughts, feelings, or sensations as they occur in a person’s body and mind.

Interest in mindfulness and meditation is currently passing what science is able to prove in relation to benefits and effects. The team noted how amazing it was to be able to observe how just one course of a managed meditation is able to make changes to activity in the brain in non-meditators.

The discovery has suggested that a variety of meditation forms can produce contrasting neurocognitive outcomes. The team explains that there isn’t much research in regards to the reason why open monitoring meditation can impact error recognition.

In some kinds of meditation the person will focus on a single thing, such as breathing. However, there is a difference with open monitoring meditation. With it a person turns inward and then places their attention on everything that is happening with their body and mind. The aim is for the person to sit quietly while noticing where the mind goes without getting too caught up in what is going on around them.

The team recruited over 200 non-meditation participants to test how open monitoring affected how people detect and then respond to errors.

The non-meditation participants were put through an open monitored meditation exercise that lasted 20 minutes. During this session the team measured activity in the brain through EEG. Afterwards, a computerized distraction test was completed.

The EEG measures activity in the brain at the millisecond level so the team could get exact measurements of neural activity immediately following mistakes compared to responses that were correct. A particular neural signal will occur about half a second following an error which is called error positivity which is associated with conscious recognition of error. They discovered that the strength of the signal is increased in the mediators compared to controls.

Even though the mediators did not have immediate improvements to real task performance, the team’s discoveries show a promising window into the possibility of sustained meditation.

The findings show a powerful demonstration of how meditating for just 20 minutes can strengthen the ability of the brain to realize and note a mistake. This shows how mindfulness meditation could potentially be capable of use in daily functioning and performance from moment to moment.

While mindfulness and meditation have shown more mainstream interest in the past few years, the study group is a relatively small group that use a neuroscientific approach to evaluating their performance and psychological effects.

To view the original scientific study click below:
On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring