Mindfulness-Based Meditation Improves Memory and Reduces Stress

Daily meditation improves memoryA 8-week mindfulness-based meditation training can help people stay on their tasks longer with fewer distractions and also improves memory and reduces stress. The new study was led by David Levy, a computer scientist and professor with the Information School at the University of Washington. This study appears to show meditation improves memory.

In the study, Professor Levy had one group of 12 to 15 human resource managers underwent eight weeks training course of mindfulness-based meditation training. A second group with a similar number got eight weeks of body-relaxation training. The third group received no initial training but then was given the same training as the first group after eight weeks. All study subjects were given a stressful test on their multitasking abilities before and after each eight-week period.

The study researchers looked at the speed, accuracy and number of times the study participants switched tasks. The study participants also were asked to record their stress levels and memory performance while doing the jobs.

The researchers found that the stress in the last two groups — those who received relaxation breathing training and those who had no initial training —did not go down. But, when the third group’s stress decreased after they received meditation training after eight weeks.

How Meditation Improves Memory

The focus of mindfulness meditation is to train the brain to stay in the moment. To do this, participants are taught to let go of the regrets of the past as well as anxieties about the future.

Professor Levy encourages people who feel overwhelmed, distracted and stressed to try meditation because it can make a difference in their life. The simplest form of mindfulness meditation, according to Professor Levy is just to sit and pay attention to your breathing and if the mind begins to wander, one needs to bring one’s mind back to the present moment and back to the sensation of the breath again and again.

The study’s conclusion was that only those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer as compared to the second and third groups, and they made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative emotion after task performance. In addition, both the meditation and the relaxation groups showed improved memory for the tasks they performed.

Combating Stress – Meditation Improves Memory

Brand new Johns Hopkins University research titled “Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” published online on January 6, 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association which examined 47 different randomized trials that involved 3515 participants on meditative techniques, has come to a similar conclusion, finding that mindfulness “meditation programs can result in small to moderate reductions of multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress”.

According to the Mayo Clinic, spending even a few minutes daily in meditation can work to alleviate the effects of stress. Meditation can be done just about anywhere. The main focus is to get your mind away from those stressors that plague all of us every day.

When we develop meditation as a regular practice, we can find a different perspective on whatever is stressing us. Many times, looking at stressors a different way serves to make their effects less. Instead of being overwhelmed by these stressors, we become better able to reduce them to smaller “units” and take care of those units individually rather than all at once.

Meditation Improves Memory Summary

Meditation improves memory and physical illness symptomsMeditation has been shown to be effective in dealing with physical illness, also. People become better able to handle the symptoms of conditions like asthma, anxiety, cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. All of these illnesses bring with them significant stress as well.

Without meditation, the body responds to stress in the same way as it does with meditation. The biggest difference is after stress hits. Without meditation, the adrenal glands come under greater and greater pressure to secrete cortisol, the stress fighting hormone. Under conditions of continuing stress, these glands get to the point of exhaustion. At that point, adrenal fatigue sets in, resulting in too little cortisol to fight stress. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue syndrome appear.

In the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) model of stress response, meditation affects all systems of the body. The NEM model postulates an interaction of all body systems under stress, so what benefits one system will benefit all. Since everyone responds to stress differently, one or two systems may be affected more acutely by stress. Research strongly suggests meditation works more globally on alleviating the feeling of stress. So, it makes no difference which body system is affected the most, meditation can be beneficial to the person.

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Source: Te May 2012 issue of Proceedings of Graphics Interface.

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