How meditation can help you multitask better

Over the past couple decades, “meditation” has moved from being considered as an alternative or spiritual activity to something that is widely accepted by the serious medical community. Many large companies now offer meditation training to their employees as a way to improve work performance and happiness.

One reason meditation, and particularly one simple, relatively easy form called “mindfulness”, is becoming more and more accepted by mainstream medical science is that researchers have shown, using the latest brain scanning techniques, improved brain function and increased brain “connectivity”.

Today, let’s just focus on just one benefit of meditation—that it can help you “multitask” better.

Many of us try to juggle several tasks at the same time, but we really don’t do such a great job. While involved in a live conversation, we might also be engaged in a text conversation, and then our cellphone rings.

We try to mange all at the same time, but it’s almost impossible to do it well. Let’s see how and why meditation practice can help here.

Researchers at the University of Washington (USA) designed a simple experiment using three groups of volunteers, all of who were managers in human resources at various companies. The researchers separated the managers into three groups of 12 to 15 people.

Over a two-month period, one group received mindfulness meditation training (two hours per week); one group received training instead in “body relaxation” techniques, and the third group (called the “control group”), received no training at all.

At the beginning of the eight weeks, all the mangers were put through a test to see how well they “multi-tasked”. Each was put in a one-person office outfitted with a laptop computer and a phone, and over several hours they were asked to perform some real-world tasks, such as schedule a meeting with multiple attendees, write a memo about an upcoming meeting agenda item, locate free conference rooms and so forth. At times they were interrupted by phone calls and people entering their office. Their performance was measured.

The same test was repeated again after the two-month training period, and the performance of the three groups was compared. The results showed that the only group that improved their performance were the managers who underwent the mindfulness course. That group felt less stressed during and after the test was completed, and they were able to concentrate better on each task before switching to the new task. Also they remembered better after the test was completed what exactly they had accomplished.

Basically, the group that underwent the 16 hours of mindfulness training became more efficient, and more, felt less stressed doing the seemingly impossible task of accomplishing several goals at the same time. The group who had the mindfulness training were able to focus better on one task at a time and take it closer to completion before switching to a new one.

Today we only wanted to give our readers a taste of how mindfulness training can be beneficial in a practical way. In our next post we will talk about how it works, and explain a simple way that you can try it out yourself at home…or work.

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Read also in ProcuraMed:

>>Meditation and the risk for heart disease

>>Long-term meditators have better developed brains

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)