10 Minutes of Meditation Improves Focus. Especially If You’re Anxious
How often do you think your mind drifts off task each day?
You might be surprised to learn that psychologists say we mind wander about 50 percent of the time. That’s a lot of time spent in dreamland. So can you do anything to improve your concentration?
A recent study finds that only 10 minutes of meditation could be all it takes to improve your focus.
Mind Wandering Can Be Both Bad and Good
Meditation is known for a number of benefits, such as stress relief. But researcher Mengran Xu recently took a closer look at another side effect of meditation. Improved focus.
Not all mind wandering is bad. It’s been shown to help us recharge our mental energy and facilitate creative problem solving.
But some brains are more easily distracted than others, especially if you’re prone to anxiety. Xu says this can cause issues:
Mind wandering accounts for nearly half of any person’s daily stream of consciousness.
For people with anxiety, repetitive off-task thoughts can negatively affect their ability to learn, to complete tasks, or even function safely.
Xu wanted to find out if meditation could help these individuals. And the results of the study were recently published in Consciousness and Cognition.
All It Takes is 10 Minutes
The study had required people to perform a computer related task with interruptions to measure their ability to stay on task. Participants were then randomly split into two groups.
One group meditated for 10 minutes while the other listened to an audio story. The two groups where then tested again. Xu reports the results:
Our results indicate that mindfulness training may have protective effects on mind wandering for anxious individuals.
It effectively reduced a person’s general mind wandering. And it had another related benefit:
We also found that meditation practice appears to help anxious people to shift their attention from their own internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand.
Meaning that it helped alleviate a person’s anxiety. It reduced individual worries which also helped them focus more.
Meditation Benefits More Than Anxious People
While the study was relatively small, its results fall in line with other research showing benefits to our concentration. There’s also piles of evidence showing it reduces anxiety in general.
And meditation does more than improve focus. It’s been shown to reduce stress hormones, improve memory, and even help our relationships.
But one of the biggest things the study shows is that even a short meditation practice can help learning and productivity.
Which is pretty great for an activity where you sit still and relax your mind.