According to recent research, meditation can help you make fewer mistakes. This is not a surprise if you are someone who meditates. This benefit is another that you can add to your list of why you should meditate more often.
A group of researchers focused on open-monitoring meditation. This is a type of meditation that focuses on awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations in one’s mind and body. It can alter brain activity in a way that suggests increased error recognition. Jeff Lin, a psychologist at Michigan State University and co-author of the paper published in Brain Sciences said:
“People’s interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits. But it’s amazing to me that we were able to see how one session of guided meditation can produce changes to brain activity in non-meditators.”
What do you gain from meditation?
The research suggests that different forms of meditation can have neurocognitive effects. When it comes to open-monitoring meditation and its effect on error recognition, there is not enough research yet.
Researchers had 200 participants. They tested the effects of open-monitoring meditation on how people detect and respond to errors. The participants of the study never meditated before. They all participated in a 20-minute meditation exercise, while researchers measured brain activity with electroencephalography (EEG). After that, researchers completed a computerized distraction test. Lin said:
“The EEG can measure brain activity at the millisecond level, so we got precise measures of neural activity right after mistakes compared to correct responses. A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, linked to conscious error recognition. We found that the strength of this signal increased in the meditators relative to controls.”
There were no immediate improvements as one might suggest. But there is a potential in sustained meditation practice. Co-author of the study, Jason Moser said:
“These findings are a strong demonstration of what 20 minutes of meditation can do to enhance the brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes. It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment.”
Does meditation heal the brain?
Meditation and mindfulness have gained some mainstream interest in the past few decades. But, Lin and his group of researchers are among the rare ones who take a neuroscientific approach to meditation, mindfulness, and their psychological and performance effects. The next phase of research should include a broader group of people testing different forms of meditation to determine if changes in brain activity can lead to long-term behavioral changes. As Lin says:
“It’s great to see the public’s enthusiasm for mindfulness, but there’s still plenty of work from a scientific perspective to understand the benefits it can have, and how it actually works. It’s time we start looking at it through a more rigorous lens.”
Therefore, if you haven’t tried meditation now is the best time to start. Look for centers where you can practice yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Although, science is not 100% clear on the benefits of the practice once you start the practice the benefits will be obvious to you.