There’s no doubt you’ve heard about the benefits of meditating and being mindful before. It can boost your mood, reduce stress, and help you fall asleep after countless hours of tossing and turning to no avail. If you’re not already convinced to take up meditation as your new hobby, here’s an argument to change your mind!
A growing body of research has found that mindfulness meditation can improve your ability to control the way you respond to and interact with the world. Imagine not spending hours ruminating over whether people noticed that awkward joke you made earlier or being able to watch a horror movie without having images of the evil entity linger in your mind for a week. Meditation improves our ability to control our memory because it enhances executive functioning. Our executive functioning is what makes us able to write an assignment instead of binge-watching a Netflix series. It’s our control panel that can steer us in the direction of long-term goals instead of short-term gratification. This ability is mediated in a part of our brain known as the prefrontal cortex (right behind your forehead) and meditating regularly can actually change the structure and effectiveness of this area!
Now that you’re excited to get started with meditation you might wonder how to go about it. Many people find it relaxing to run or listen to calming music, and even though both are highly encouraged, that is not what is meant by mindfulness meditation. In order to achieve many of the abovementioned benefits, you have to take 5 minutes out of your busy day to settle down in a quiet spot. Once you are sitting comfortably, you must try to empty your mind by focusing on your breath. This might not be as easy as it sounds, and it is quite normal to experience thoughts popping up every now and again. Try not to suppress these thoughts. Instead, simply accept their presence before letting them go. Don’t worry, it will become easier as you practice.
Now you know why you should begin your journey of meditation and how to approach it. Good luck and enjoy being mindful!
van der Zwan, J. E., de Vente, W., Huizink, A. C., Bögels S.M, & de Bruin, E. I. (2015). Physical activity, mindfulness meditation, or heart rate variability biofeedback for stress reduction: a randomized controlled trial. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 40(4), 257–268.
Gallant, S. N. (2016). Mindfulness meditation practice and executive functioning: breaking down the benefit. Consciousness and Cognition, 40, 116–130.
Bomyea, J., & Amir, N. (2011). The effect of an executive functioning training program on working memory capacity and intrusive thoughts. Cognitive therapy and research, 35(6), 529-535.
Cásedas, L., Pirruccio, V., Vadillo, M. A., & Lupiáñez, J. (2020). Does mindfulness meditation training enhance executive control? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials in adults. Mindfulness, 11(2), 411-424.
Purpura, D. J., Schmitt, S. A., & Ganley, C. M. (2017). Foundations of mathematics and literacy: the role of executive functioning components. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 153, 15–34.
Crissa, L. G., Zafiris, J. D., Natasha, R., Paul, B. F., & Paul, R. (2013). Meditation-related increases in gabab modulated cortical inhibition. Brain Stimulation, 6(3), 397–402.