In recent years, meditation has moved quickly from fringe to much more mainstream in the United States.
The Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that meditation increased threefold among American adults between 2012 and 2017.
From major corporations to the classroom, a number of professions have started to incorporate mindfulness as a way to reduce stress and help people cope with their hectic lives
But it’s not just adults, the CDC also found that both yoga and meditation have become increasingly common among children as well — with some schools incorporating them into the classroom.
In 2015, Atlanta Public Schools started to introduce mindfulness to kids.
“We are looking to develop the whole child,” Kori Sanchez Smith, with APS, told the AJC at the time.
And access to meditation for novices is more readily available than ever — with a slew of apps that will help guide you on your journey toward mindfulness.
But, the benefits of meditation extend beyond reducing stress, according to a new study.
"People's interest in meditation and mindfulness is outpacing what science can prove in terms of effects and benefits," said Jeff Lin, the study’s co-author.
Researchers at Michigan State University found that meditating even just once can help people make fewer mistakes. The study looked at open monitoring meditation, which is the practice that focuses on being aware of one’s feelings, thoughts and sensations as they unfold.
The researchers looked at 200 people who had never meditated before and had them participate in a 20-minute guided meditation exercise, while their brain was monitored.
Afterward, participants completed a computerized distraction test. The results showed that meditation in different forms can enhance the brain’s ability to focus and detect mistakes.
"It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might really be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment,” researcher Jason Moser said.
Despite meditation gaining mainstream popularity relatively quickly, research remains sparse on its effects on the brain.
Lin said even though the results of the study were promising, more work remains to show just how meditation can make you more mindful.
"It's great to see the public's enthusiasm for mindfulness, but there's still plenty of work from a scientific perspective to be done to understand the benefits it can have, and equally importantly, how it actually works," Lin said. "It's time we start looking at it through a more rigorous lens."
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