Researchers at University of California at Santa Barbara had 48 undergraduate students take either a mindful meditation class or a nutrition class.
Each class met for 45 minutes four times per week for two weeks. They were taught by “professionals with extensive teaching experience in their respective fields.” The mindfulness class “emphasized the physical posture and mental strategies of focused-attention meditation.” As they describe that class more specifically:
It required participants to integrate mindfulness into their daily activities and to complete 10 minutes of daily meditation outside of class. During class, participants sat on cushions in a circle. Each class included 10 to 20 minutes of mindfulness exercises requiring focused attention to some aspect of sensory experience (e.g., sensations of breathing, tastes of a piece of fruit, or sounds of an audio recording). … Classes focused on:
- Sitting in an upright posture with legs crossed and gaze lowered, distinguishing between naturally arising thoughts and elaborated thinking.
- Minimizing the distracting quality of past and future concerns by re-framing them as mental projections occurring in the present.
- Using the breath as an anchor for attention during meditation.
- Repeatedly counting up to 21 consecutive exhalations.
- Allowing the mind to rest naturally rather than trying to suppress the occurrence of thoughts.
The scores improved for the group that incorporated meditation, their average GRE verbal score went from 460 – 520 and also improved on tests of working memory and focus. The nutrition group did not improve.
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source: Higher Perspective by Karma Jello
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