Dream Blogger – Dr. Sarah Larsen
Dr. Larsen is one of the founders of DreamShield: Planetary Meditations for a Gentle 2012
Research using neuro-imaging technology has shown that meditation techniques can promote significant changes in brain areas associated with concentration. *
In the past, it was always assumed that extensive training was required to achieve this effect. So for those who would like to boost your cognitive abilities, without the monk-like discipline, time commitment, and cost; this information is so timely!!
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. They got smarter and more efficient!!
“In the behavioral test results, what we are seeing is something that is somewhat comparable to results that have been documented after far more extensive training,” said Fadel Zeidan, a post-doctoral researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and a former doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where the research was conducted.
“Simply stated, the profound improvements that we found after just 4 days of meditation training– are really surprising,” Zeidan noted. “It goes to show that the mind is, in fact, easily changeable and highly influenced, especially by meditation.”
The meditation training involved in the study was an abbreviated “mindfulness” training regime modeled on basic “Shamatha skills” from a Buddhist meditation tradition, conducted by a trained facilitator.
“The simple process of focusing on the breath in a relaxed manner, in a way that teaches you to regulate your emotions by raising one’s awareness of mental processes as they’re happening is like working out a bicep, but you are doing it to your brain. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to release sensory events that would easily distract, whether it is your own thoughts or an external noise, in an emotion-regulating fashion. This can lead to better, more efficient performance on the intended task.”
“This kind of training seems to prepare the mind for activity, but it’s not necessarily permanent,” Zeidan cautions. “This doesn’t mean that you meditate for four days and you’re done – you need to keep practicing.”
One of the best known and most respected Zen masters, Thich Nhat Hanh, has been my teacher of Mindfulness!
I teach a process that allows you to get more done based on Mindfulness Teachings.
Basic Model: Six Simple Steps to keep your Mind Sharp!
Doing this allows you to be more effective and bring your complete attention to a project before you begin it! (total time 1-3 minutes)
1. allow your body to completely relax
2. close your eyes
3. simply focus on the flow of your breath occurring at the tip of their nose.
4. If a random thought arise, notice and acknowledge the thought and simply let ‘it’ go by bringing the attention back to the sensations of the breath.”
5.Open your eyes and begin the project. (Work, working out, and just about anything!)
6. Notice the cooler air coming in each breath and warmed air leaving periodically through the project!
Subsequent training builds on this basic model. You can learn physical awareness, focus, and mindfulness with regard to distraction.
Set aside 20 minutes every day for a quiet Mind Meditation.
*This study appears in the April 2 issue of Consciousness and Cognition. Zeidan’s co-authors are Susan K. Johnson, Zhanna David and Paula Goolkasian from the Department of Psychology at UNC Charlotte, and Bruce J. Diamond from William Patterson University. The research was also part of Zeidan’s doctoral dissertation. The research was presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s annual meeting in Montreal.
“Findings like these suggest that meditation’s benefits may not require extensive training to be realized, and that meditation’s first benefits may be associated with increasing the ability to sustain attention,” Zeidan said.
“Further study is warranted,” he stressed, noting that brain imaging studies would be helpful in confirming the brain changes that the behavioral tests seem to indicate, “but this seems to be strong evidence for the idea that we may be able to modify our own minds to improve our cognitive processing – most importantly in the ability to sustain attention and vigilance – within a week’s time.”
Learn more about Dr. Sarah Larsen at www.drsarahlarsen.com
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