It’s perfectly normal to forget or make mistakes. But if you would like to be less error prone, meditation may help. Just one session of guided meditation can positively change brain activity to reduce forgetfulness and errors.
Research, published in the journal Brain Sciences, focused specifically on what is called open monitoring meditation. This type of meditation focuses on feelings, thoughts and sensations and they occur in one’s mind and body.
“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits,” said Jeff Lin, PhD and 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 … .”
It’s common to use the term meditation as one single practice. However, there are many types of meditation. Each one has distinct benefits.
“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.”
This study included 200 participants who had never meditated. They were guided through a 20-minute open-monitoring (OM) meditation exercise while the researchers measured brain activity through electroencephalography, or EEG. Participants then completed a computerized distraction test. The guided OM meditation exercise was led by Steve Hickman from the University of San Diego Center for Mindfulness (see below for the guided meditation used in the study).
The recording instructs participants to direct their attention inward, taking notice of present-moment feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations in an open, nonjudgmental manner. To try this mediation yourself in the audio recording by Hickman. Sit in a comfortable place with no distractions and follow along.
“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 co-author Jason Moser. 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.”
Looking ahead, Lin said that the next phase of research will be to include a broader group of participants, test different forms of meditation and determine whether changes in brain activity can translate to behavioral changes with more long-term practice.
Source: Lin, Eckerle, Peng, Moser. On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring. Brain Sciences, 2019; 9 (9): 226 DOI: 10.3390/brainsci9090226
This article is provided by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following initiatives:
- Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
- Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
- Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine
Stewart is an award-winning editor, food and health journalist and best-selling author of Eating Between the Lines, the supermarket shopper's guide to the truth behind food labels (St. Martin's Press).