If you’re prone to being clumsy or forgetful, open monitoring meditation could be the answer to making fewer errors throughout your day.
But the benefits don’t stop there. New research has found another interesting way that mindful exercise can benefit us – especially if you’re prone to being clumsy or forgetful.
What did the study on meditation find?
The research tested how open monitoring mediation – a type of meditation that focuses awareness on feelings, thoughts or suggestions as they unfold in a person’s mind and body - altered brain activity in a way that suggests increased error recognition.
What is open monitoring meditation?
“Some forms of meditation have you focus on a single object, commonly your breath, but open monitoring meditation is a bit different,” said Jeff Lin, MSU psychology doctoral candidate and study co-author.
“It has you tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in your mind and body. The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery.”
How did they conduct the study?
The study used 200 participants who had never meditated before. It took them through a 20-minute open monitoring meditation session while researchers measured brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG). They then completed a computerised distraction test.
“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,” Lin said explained.
“A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, which is linked to conscious error recognition. We found that the strength of this signal is increased in the meditators relative to controls.”
Although the meditators didn’t have immediate improvements to actual task performance, the researchers’ findings offer a promising window into the potential of sustained meditation.
“These findings are a strong demonstration of what just 20 minutes of meditation can do to enhance the brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes,” said co-author Jason Moser.
“It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might really be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment.”
So, is it worth practicing open monitoring meditation? There’s still plenty of research to be done, according to Lin, but it’s certainly worth giving it a go.