In a fast-moving world, it’s hard for a mind to stay current. In this context, staying current means giving attention and stay aware of the recent situation, in other words, being mindful. Being mindful means keeping the mind from anxiety and unintended worries. In our world, this could be as important as survival.
Psychologists have been interested in the relationship between attention and working memory. Attention is found to be helping the brain to build a set of working memories, including visual-spatial and verbal information. Working memory is what humans use to work, from remembering names and faces to solving cognitive problems.
In our world, being mindful could be as important as survival.
What Makes a Perfect Meditation
Meditation constantly enhances attention. Changes within the brain that is related to attention are seen constantly during meditation. (Tang, 2007) Indeed, in meditation, the awareness of the current is what the final product is. Focusing the mind to attention will help to reach awareness. For beginners, however, it’s not easy to have the kind of decision making to reach this state. The process also includes managing the five body senses. The process to reach the end product of meditation can be a hard cognitive task. For humans to work efficiently, attention and working memory would work together. (Buttle, 2011)
According to Benson (1975), the 4 requirements of mindful meditation are the following : a quiet environment, a mental device, a passive attitude, and a comfortable position. The second requirement, mental device, is an object to dwell upon. For some it could be verses, like, mantras. Others, it could be music, thoughts, or other physical objects. The process of focusing a mind into a mental device requires repetition. Research found that this process gives the mind’s more focused attentional resources and more efficient perceptual discrimination (Malinowski, 2013). The two findings mean that the mind will require less attention to remember something after a set of meditation practices.
The process of mindful meditation, through focusing attention, has been proven to increase one’s working memory. This kind of benefit is only one of the many benefits of meditation mindfulness. However, the process can not be obtained in one trial. A regular practices must be done to achieve this kind of attentional focusing.
Seeing how meditation affects the brain in such clear, physical way, meditation can also be clearly seen as a key to treat several mental illnesses. Depression, for example, is brought by one’s intense sadness. This may be treated by a slow meditation relief, bringing one’s awareness of the recent. The same goes for anxiety, that is caused by one’s awareness that’s not current.
Researchers and psychologists are still studying the effect of meditation. Some of the effects are still unknown. What we scientifically know is that a set of persistent meditation practices will help the mind works its working memory better.
Tang, Y. Y. et al. Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 17152–17156 (2007).
Buttle, Heather. “Attention and Working Memory in Mindfulness–Meditation Practices.” The Journal of Mind and Behavior, vol. 32, no. 2, 2011, pp. 123–134. Spring 2011.
Malinowski, Peter. “Neural Mechanisms of Attentional Control in Mindfulness Meditation.” 4 Feb. 2013.