A health breakthrough out of Washingtonshows that if you learn to meditate, you can concentrate longer, avoid distractions more efficiently, have a stronger memory and be more stress-free. It certainly might be worth looking into this ancient practice.
Research shows that a little training in meditation goes a long way in making whatever job or project you face go smoother and more stress-free. Meditation keeps you on task longer, and boosts memory as well. This may be thefirst study set out to explore how meditation affects multitasking.
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The study included three groups of between 12 and 15 human resources managers. One group received eight weeks of mindfulness-based meditation training; another received eight weeks of body relaxation training. Members of the third group, a control group, received no training at first — then the same training as the first group after eight weeks.
Participants were given a stressful test of their multitasking abilities after every eight weeks. It required them to use e-mail, calendars, instant-messaging, telephone and word-processing tools to perform common office tasks.Researchers measured the participants’ speed, accuracy and the extent to which they switched tasks. The participants’ self-reported levels of stress and memory while performing the tasks were also noted.
The results were significant: the meditation group reported lower levels of stress during the multitasking test, while those in the control group or who received only relaxation training did not. When the control group was given meditation training, however, its members reported lower stress during the test, just as the original meditation group had.
The meditation training seemed to help participants concentrate longer without their attention being diverted. Those who meditated beforehand spent more time on tasks and switched tasks less often, but took no longer to complete the overall job than the others, the researchers learned.
No such change occurred with those who took body relaxation training only, or with the control group. After the control group’s members underwent meditation training, however, they too spent longer on their tasks with less task switching and no overall increase in job completion time.
After training, both the meditators and those trained in relaxation techniques showed improved memory for the tasks they were performing. The control group did not, until it too underwent the meditation training.
Whatever you do, if you find you have a lot on your plate, a little meditation might go a long way in improving your lifestyle and making things go a bit more smoothly.