Meditations in an emergency might be the secret to making fewer mistakes.
But if you find yourself being forgetful or making mistakes when in a hurry, it turns out that a little bit of meditation can make you less error-prone, according to a new study.
Researchers from Michigan State University published their findings in Brain Sciences in the journal’s September 2019 issue. The main goal for researchers was to find how open monitoring meditation (meditation that focuses on feelings, thoughts, or sensations that are present in one’s body) could change brain activity that would decrease the chances of making mistakes.
“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits,” Jeff Lin, a Michigan State University psychology doctoral candidate and study co-author, said in a press statement. “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.”
Lin added: “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.”
For the study, researchers found more than 200 people who have never practiced meditation and had them go through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation exercise. Researchers tracked brain activity through electroencephalography (EEG) during both meditation and the tests.
“The EEG can measure brain activity at the millisecond level, so we got precise measures of neural activity right after mistakes compared to correct responses,” added Lin. “A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, which is linked to conscious error recognition. We found that the strength of this signal is increased in the meditators relative to controls.”
Following the tests, the results showed how different forms of meditation enhanced the brain’s ability to detect and examine mistakes.
“These findings are a strong demonstration of what just 20 minutes of meditation can do to enhance the brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes,” said Jason Moser, a co-author of the study. “It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might really be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment.”
A recent OnePoll study in partnership with Thermador interviewed 2,000 Americans finding that more than half (52%) start their day off with a fresh cup of coffee. The poll, which wanted to explore Americans’ routines and lifestyles, also found that exercise and medication were popular morning methods.
Two in five of the respondents said they exercise first thing in the morning, while one in three claims meditation to be an essential part of their morning routine.
With meditation and mindfulness entering everyday life in recent years, researchers said more works need to be done in order to access how meditation can enhance mindfulness.
“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,” said Lin. “It’s time we start looking at it through a more rigorous lens.”