How Can Meditation Help You Become Less Stressed and More Focused?

Italian neuroscientist Guiseppe Pagnoni explains how....


By Hanna Kim - September 14, 2018

Meditation has gained popularity in recent years in many different spheres. Daily meditation practices have been shown to help students focus in school and prison inmates experience less stress and mental health issues. 

As adults we have a wide array of tasks to get done each day, but the stressors of life and an array of distractions can sometimes get in the way of our responsibilities. World Mental Health Day on October 10th is a reminder to take care of our mental well-being. Meditation can be used as part of a self-care routine to help us ease our stresses and focus on the immediate tasks at hand.


The Science Behind Meditation

Italian neuroscientist Guiseppe Pagnoni conducted a study on how meditation changes brain patterns. He compared the brain scans of 12 Zen meditators who had been regularly meditating for at least 3 years to a control group of 12 adults in the same age group with a similar education to the study group. 

MRI imaging was run while study participants were instructed “not to engage in any mental act” and also while participants were given a rapid visual information processing test, where one would have to spot the right number sequences as numbers would quickly flash on a screen.

Theses scans showed the meditators had more stability in their posteromedial cortex (vPMC), the region of the brain linked to “spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering.” Lower activity in the vPMC may mean a stronger ability to be more attentive and less distracted.
 
This study shows there may be positive implications for meditation for people experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD, where impulsive or unwanted thoughts can be more pervasive. Meditation is also a safe, inexpensive, and easily accessible tool for anyone who wishes to improve their mental function. 

From the finding from this study, if you are distracted, stressed, or simply could benefit from increased focus, adding meditation to your daily routine is benefital. 

 
Simple Meditation Techniques

All you need is some time to find your breath and listen to your body. A big advantage of meditation is that it can be done anywhere and anytime. As any other practice, regular meditation is more likely to lead to better results, and it can be helpful to have a quiet space and a set time to practice meditating each day.

The Free Mindfulness Project is a free resource available for those who want some more direction and information about how to meditation works and how it could benefits your life. 
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