Can Mindfulness Meditation Make You Smarter?
Categories: Exercising Your Mind
If you have been following my blog, then you’re certainly no stranger to mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation essentially is the act of observing random thoughts that pop into your brain, and then pushing them out to refocus on the present moment. Mindfulness meditation works wonders for a slew of problems, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and even physical pain; but can mindfulness meditation also make you smarter?
Well, there is no telling for sure if mindfulness meditation can really make you smarter person, but it can definitely boost your test scores. Researchers in the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Santa Barbra, have recently conducted a study to find out to what extent mindfulness meditation can improve a person’s memory and ability to focus, especially in a test-taking environment.
The researchers rounded up a group of 48 undergraduate students from the University and split them into two groups: The first group was given an eight-week period to study nutrition, while the second group was allotted the time to work on mindfulness meditation — about one session per week. Before the study began, each group was tested for their “working memory capacity” and “mind-wandering” — i.e., their ability to access stored information in their minds, and how well they could maintain their focus.
At the end of the study the two groups were given new versions of the G.R.E. As you might have guessed, the first group — the one that focused on nutrition — did not improve at all; whereas the second group — the one that practiced mindfulness meditation — showed significant improvement in their working memory capacity and their reading comprehension.
This really makes perfect sense. I’ve likened meditation to physical exercise many times on this blog. Of course, if you exercise — workout — a particular area of your mind, it is going to become stronger over time. The students who participated in the University of California study were able to increase their scores on the verbal section of the G.R.E. by 60 points — from 460 up to 520. Just imagine what they could do after a whole year of meditating, or five or 10 years!
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