Quick, how many tabs do you have open? If you’re having trouble paying attention to the task at hand, a new study suggests you try a few minutes of daily meditation.
Call it the curse of modern living; we have seventeen tabs open between three browser windows, along with four other background programs running, not to mention a bulging inbox, a buzzing smartphone, and an update from Adobe that JUST WON’T GO AWAY.
Anyway, what we’re saying is, we live in a distracted age. Our jobs demand multitasking, but the ability to focus is still important.
You can improve that focus with a scant forty minutes of meditation per day, according to a new study from Psychological Science. Participants in the study took either a nutrition class or a mindfulness class. Those in the latter group met four times per week for two weeks with professionals who taught said class. The class focused on all the things you’d expect from a meditation course: sitting upright, controlled breathing, minimizing distracting thoughts, letting the mind rest naturally, and concentrating on the present.
Participants also took the GREs (a standardized test for entry into grad school) before and after the two week class. Scores improved for those who took the mindfulness course (the verbal portion jumped from an average of 460 to 520), but not for those who took the nutrition course. They also did better on tests that measured working memory and focus.
What does this mean? Well, improving one’s cognitive functions without the use of nootropics or cup after cup of coffee is surely a good plan, since meditation is free. Unless you sign up for a class at a spa or alternative medicine clinic. Then you’ll pay through the nose.