Faster, better, further – today’s world brings many challenges and above all requires high mental performance. Especially in times of COVID-19, many people are faced with the task of having to process even more to-do’s at the same time while always remaining at maximum performance. This leads to the fact that many people think they have to do even more per day, work even more, do even more sports, learn even more… But can’t de-acceleration also help us to cope with a stressful everyday life? Doing less, taking deeper breaths and taking breaks – doesn’t that sound much healthier?
Can a mindfulness practice perhaps help us to maintain or even increase our mental performance? According to research, the answer to this question is: Yes, it can. Mindfulness meditation has been proven to improve various mental performances. These improvements are discussed in more detail below.
Improved working memory and less multitasking
A study by Levy et al (2011) examined the effect of mindfulness meditation on multitasking and general performance in everyday office life. In the intervention, employees of human resources departments participated in an eight-week course focusing on mindfulness meditation. It was shown that participants who had gone through the meditation practice were able to remember already-completed tasks much better, maintain their focus longer and switch between different tasks less frequently. In addition to these study results, Basso et al (2018) showed that a daily guided meditation of 13 minutes improved attention, memory and working memory performance. It is therefore already worthwhile to integrate even short meditation units into everyday life.
Less mind-wandering and improved focus
Brewer et al (2011) have investigated the effect of meditation on the phenomenon of mind-wandering. Mind-Wandering describes the state in which our thoughts wander from one stimulus to the next. Earlier research (Raichle et al., 2001) could show that mind wandering is related to the activity of the so-called “Default Mode Network” (DMN) of the brain. This is a group of brain regions that is mainly active during periods of rest and when doing nothing. Brewer et al. (2011) were able to show by means of magnetic resonance imaging (an imaging technique for the representation of brain activity) that the brain regions of the Default Mode Network were significantly less active in regular meditators than in people who did not meditate. These results suggest that meditation helps to reduce jumping thoughts and to be able to concentrate better on one thing. Zeidan et al (2010) showed that already 4 days of 20 minutes meditation practice can lead to improvements in attention in people without any meditation experience.
Counteracting age-related degradation processes
Gard, Hölzel and Lazar (2013) have examined 12 studies on the effects of meditation on the age-related decline of cognitive abilities. For this purpose, mostly older adults were examined. Mindfulness training was mainly associated with improved attention, while other forms of meditation also led to better memory and faster processing spee.
Newberg et al (2010) specifically studied 15 individuals with memory problems. The problems ranged from minor memory difficulties to diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. As in the above-mentioned study by Brewer et al. (2011), the activity of the Default Mode Network was examined here, since these brain regions are affected in Alzheimer’s disease. The study could show that after an eight-week meditation training many brain areas that are part of the DMN were more strongly supplied with blood. This gives reason to believe that meditation can even counteract neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Stress reduction through meditation
Goyal et al (2014) evaluated 47 studies regarding the effectiveness of meditation on stress perception. These studies examined people with diseases such as depression, cancer, HIV, but also people without a diagnosis, as well as parents and employees. On average, the stress perception of the test subjects with the meditation practice decreased more than that of people who had not meditated. In fact, most of the meditation programs were only conducted for a few weeks and showed an effect even after a short time.
Wolever et al. (2012) have particularly examined the effects of meditation on highly stressed workers. After conducting a 12-week mindfulness training program that focused specifically on mindfulness at the workplace, the test subjects indicated that they were significantly less stressed. This was true not only for on-site mindfulness training, but also for online courses.
Mindfulness meditation – a daily push for your mental performance!
Meditation can help us in these stressful times to become more efficient and stay resilient. It helps us to reduce stress and to work more focused. We can also help our memory with mindfulness based meditations. Meditation also strengthens mental health. Basically it can be said that mindfulness meditation generally improves mental performance and promotes mental strength. It doesn’t have to be a big change in life – just a few minutes a day can make a difference and help us to maintain and even increase mental performance!
You ask yourself: “How can I now improve my mental performance with mindfulness meditation?”? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Mindfulife offers daily online meditations. Book flexible single sessions under this link and try it out!