Did you know that quick meditation can excite your brain and improve your judgment? Well it’s true. Just spending a few moments focusing on present thoughts, emotions and sensations doesn’t only calm the brain and soothe the spirit, it can actually short-circuit racial bias and fight drug dependency. In one new study on mindfulness, a practice that became popular in the late ‘70s, subjects who spent 10 minutes listening to a “mindful” meditation before viewing pictures of black and white faces exhibited far fewer automatic negative associations – i.e. less prejudice – than a group who hadn’t meditated, according to a study conducted by Central Michigan University. In a second study at the University of Utah College of Social Work, drug addicts who learned a “mindful savoring” practice – focusing on a pleasant experience, like being in nature or with a loved one, and the textures, smells and colors related to it – showed more excitement in the pleasure centers of their brains, which lowered their craving for drugs, says study author Eric Garland, Ph.D.
Of course, you don’t have to be a racist or drug addict to experience the benefits of mindfulness. Instead of going through your day on autopilot, take a few minutes to calmly zero in on the details of your surroundings, or channel a pleasant memory. For some terrific short guided meditations, visit UCLA’S Mindful Awareness Research Center’s website.
(By Brittany Smith….Men’s Fitness, 4/17/15)