February 27th, 2020
Mindfulness has become one of the hottest topics in mainstream media and in neuroscientific research, and for good reason. The practice of training our attention is purported to be the foundation for other contemplative practices; in a paper written by Dahl and Davidson, they claim that mindful attention to the present moment allows us to delve more deeply into reflective meditations that promote self awareness, insight and compassion.
Though it is never too late to begin a mindfulness practice, research has begun to investigate the benefits of beginning a practice during adolescence. A recent neuroimaging study found that teenagers who played a mindfulness training video game called Tenacity had better connectivity in regions of the brain that support attention. By capitalizing on the pre-existing teenage habit of video gaming, researchers were able to train teens to focus on their breathing, thereby improving their capacity to focus.
There are also secondhand benefits for those who associate with people who practice mindfulness. 88 early education teachers were randomly assigned to a mindfulness training intervention or control group, and it was found that the teachers who practiced daily mindfulness scored higher on measurements of instructional and emotional support. The students in this study were beneficiaries of the teacher’s improved ability to educate and care for these children.
Tempting as it may be to dismiss mindfulness as just another pop culture trend, scientific research and human history continue to prove that mindfulness is a transformative practice with widespread, lasting benefits.