If you’ve found yourself struggling to pay attention to your work, or even a movie, without your mind wandering off, you might want to give meditation a try.
The benefits are long-touted, and although it might not make you a nicer person, a new study adds to the list by suggesting that meditation has long term cognitive benefits.
The study, out of the University of California-Davis, is the most comprehensive, longitudinal study of meditation ever conducted.
They followed a group of experienced meditators who attended one of two intense meditation retreats in Colorado in 2007. The participants attended the three month retreats, and then continued with their meditation practices under a renowned meditation scholar.
They had two group meditation sessions a day, and also engaged in individual meditation for six hours a day. (I did say it was intensive).
Immediately after the retreat, participants had better attention spans and they were more able to cope with stresses. They were also just in a better mood.
Seven years later, the 40 participants who were still being studied all reported that they continued the practice for about an hour per day, average. Also, all those post-meditation gains were still somewhat apparent, especially for the older people who continued to meditate.
It’s hard to say whether these results would be similar for the average human, who doesn’t have three months to spend meditating in a remote cabin. But it sounds like it wouldn't hurt to add in a little meditation practice from time to time.
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