How does your calendar look? Is it overbooked with meetings and deadlines? Do you feel like you have more work than you have time to complete it all? If so, perhaps you’re looking for a way to make better use of your time. With better focus, you could waste less time and improve the actual quality of your work.
Science shows that meditation can improve your attention span and deliver better cognitive performance. In 2012, Italian neuroscientist Giuseppe Pagnoni used an MRI machine to compare brain patterns in people with established meditation practices (five years or more) to people who didn’t meditate. He found that the meditators were better able to control their ventral posteromedial cortex, the part of the brain that tends to wander and ruminate.
Pagnoni then tested the ability of both groups to process rapid visual information in the form of numbers flashed on a screen. Participants were asked to signal when they saw specific patterns within the numbers, which appeared at a rate of more than 100 per minute. The task required great focus, and the meditators outperformed the non-meditating group, spotting more number sequences and with fewer mistakes. His results were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Another study, published in 2013, applied the same enhanced ability to focus to student’s ability to remember what they learn (“Meditation in the Higher-Education Classroom: Meditation Training Improves Student Knowledge Retention during Lectures”). This research found that university students who meditated before a lecture retained more information and performed better on a subsequent quiz.
Meditation’s ability to help us focus can serve in many ways: greater efficiency, less desire to procrastinate and better performance. Worthy aspirations, indeed.