Neuro-Research

How Shortening Your Meditation Can = Bigger Results

 How Shortening Your #Meditation Can = Bigger #Results | #Brain #Lifehacking #Mindfulness

It’s no secret that meditation and mindfulness are amazing practices for your brain. They make you healthier, smarter, and more fulfilled. Yet, despite best intentions, many struggle to find the time to engage in these life-changing practices.

Here’s good news: when it comes to meditation and mindfulness sessions, length doesn’t appear to matter. (And, of course, by “length”, I mean the length of time engaged in a given mindfulness exercise or meditation.) In fact, you may experience even more benefit by shortening your sessions.

Researchers in the 1990s believed it took 50-60 minutes of meditation practice a day to achieve brain benefits. Today, many people assume that you need to engage for some duration between 10 minutes to over 2 hours. But the latest research tells a different story: even 60 seconds of practice changes the brain in powerful ways.


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The research suggests that it’s the accumulated time that matters, not the session length. In fact, the data shows that shorter sessions, spread throughout the day, are much more effective in many ways.

With frequent, spread out, shorter sessions, mindfulness is more fully woven into the fabric of your life. This gives you a greater opportunity to more acutely leverage the brain-boosting effects to address everyday challenges at work or at home.

With this approach, the biggest obstacle can be remembering to engage with these states as the chaos of the day unfolds. That’s why we recommend you set some kind of timer to go off 1-4 times an hour. When it goes off, enjoy 60 seconds (give or take) to relax and engage in your choice of mindfulness practice.

 

One of my favorite tools for this is Awakeningbell.org. This site triggers Tibetan bell sounds at whatever time interval you choose. A recent study confirmed that focusing on the sound of a resonant bell helps the mind become more focused and attentive. A simple Google search will reveal several alternatives. And yes, there’s an app for that (actually several). After 60-90 days, mindful states will become your habit.

Once you set up a system, and make it a habit to engage in short mindfulness exercises throughout the day, you’ll develop a zen-like focus. You’ll be less stressed, more productive, more aware, and more socially intelligent. All it takes is seconds.


SOURCES:

Effects of brief and sham mindfulness meditation on mood and cardiovascular variables. Zeidan F, Johnson SK, Gordon NS, Goolkasian P. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Aug; 16( 8): 867-73.

Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: evidence of brief mental training. Zeidan F, Johnson SK, Diamond BJ, David Z, Goolkasian P. Conscious Cogn. 2010 Jun; 19( 2): 597-605.

The effects of brief mindfulness meditation training on experimentally induced pain. Zeidan F, Gordon NS, Merchant J, Goolkasian P. J Pain. 2010 Mar; 11( 3): 199-209.


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This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

How to Enhance Your Memory with Simple Learning Hacks

 How to Enhance Your Mind with Simple #Learning Hacks

Admission: Memory is not my natural strong suit. Fortunately, brain-research has validated some simple practices that measurably enhance anyone's memory.

The truth is, most humans have poor memory. Why? A big reason is that our normal awareness is extremely limited. Most people can only hold 4-7 tiny bits of information in working memory at a time.

Want to see if you can do better?
Take a glance at this set of numbers:

 

 1 – 8 – 6 – 2 – 5 – 5 – 5 – 6 – 3 – 5 - 7

 


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Now close your eyes and try to recall the numbers. If you can, congratulations! Only 1% of people can do this. This is because the brain is trying to take in 11 chunks of information instead of 4-7.

Let’s look at the number a different way: 800-555-6357. When we look at it as a phone number, it becomes much easier to remember. When we chunk information effectively, our memory expands.

That said, our brain’s frontal lobes only keep that information for a few seconds. Then, another set of “chunks” will catch our attention. Worse, the learning centers of our brains can only deal with one or two ideas at a time.

So to efficiently learn anything, key information must get absorbed with precision. Then, your brain needs time to absorb it and encode it into long-term memory. 

Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel explains in his book In Search of Memory that your brain needs rest to form long-term memories. This is why top athletes and other performers divide their practice into time-limited sessions with breaks.

During these breaks, it’s best to spend time daydreaming. Many consider mind-wandering a bad habit, but when you daydream your awareness expands throughout your brain. Meanwhile, hundreds of thoughts get processed and stored in your deeper memory.

You can improve your recall by taking just 60 seconds to let your mind wander after you learn something new. Just sit back, relax, and let your mind go anywhere it wants. The same holds true if you’ve been focusing on a task for a while. If you set alarms to give yourself micro-vacations, your performance will improve.

By learning in small chunks and giving yourself seconds to daydream, your performance can skyrocket.


SOURCES:

Brain connectivity during resting state and subsequent working memory task predicts behavioural performance. Sala-Llonch R, Peña-Gómez C, Arenaza-Urquijo EM, Vidal-Piñeiro D, Bargalló N, Junqué C, Bartrés-Faz D. Cortex. 2012 Oct; 48( 9): 1187-96.

Brief wakeful resting boosts new memories over the long term. Dewar M, Alber J, Butler C, Cowan N, Della Sala S. Psychol Sci. 2012 Sep 1;23( 9): 955-60.

Words Can Change Your Brain. Newberg A, M.D., Waldman, M. R., Penguin Group, 2012.

Nondirective meditation activates default mode network and areas associated with memory retrieval and emotional processing. Xu J, Vik A, Groote IR, Lagopoulos J, Holen A, Ellingsen O, Håberg AK, Davanger S. Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Feb 26;8: 86.

Kandel, E. In Search of Memory. Norton, 2006.


This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

The Science of Weakening Trauma and Becoming More Positive

 The #Science of Weakening #Trauma and Becoming More #Positive

NOTE: This article is intended for educational purposes only. If you are struggling with trauma, we highly recommend that you seek the help of a licensed therapist.


A sense of positivity is essential for our wellbeing. Positivity enables us to have a well-connected brain. Conversely, negativity triggers neurotoxins that poison the brain. Unfortunately, life is often harsh and tragic. It is hard to maintain a positive mentality when we experience horrible things. So, to live our lives to the fullest, we need to develop a skill-set that helps us stay rooted in a positive mindset in the midst of the traumas we experience over the course of our lives.

 The #Science of Weakening #Trauma and Becoming More #Positive

For many, feelings of anger, fear and sadness from past traumas seem insurmountable. Once their traumatic memories are triggered, they become overwhelmed with debilitating emotions.

Fortunately, there are powerful, research-backed techniques that regulate and dramatically weaken these crippling feelings. Many trauma therapists suggest that if you do something pleasurable when a painful memory comes up, the pleasure interrupts the pain, anger, and fear sparked in the brain. Theory of memory strongly suggests that painful memories get altered when they are recalled in a relaxed and pleasant way. The next time the memory gets recalled, some of that relaxation and pleasure gets embedded into the memory circuit. The result is that the person does not feel the full impact of the original trauma. The trauma becomes neurologically weakened.

On the other hand, if you talk about or dwell on the trauma without being extraordinarily relaxed, you end up traumatizing yourself more. You end up strengthening that trauma in your brain.

 The #Science of Weakening #Trauma and Becoming More #Positive

An outstanding way to achieve a relaxed state is to yawn, stretch, and then stroke your hands, arms or face in an exquisitely mindful and enjoyable way. Sensory-awareness through self-touch is a proven technique to increase one's sense of groundedness. It helps the brain build a stronger self-image. Meanwhile, the pleasurable sensations weaken the effects of the traumatic memory.

When in a relaxed state, you can more safely allow yourself to visualize and recall a trauma. It is best to limit your visualization to one small piece at a time. You can allow yourself to feel the feelings, and let them float away. This way, you end up turning down the volume of negativity in your mind.

Concurrently, whenever anything positive comes to mind, spend a moment to deeply connect and savor those feelings. Turn up the volume on thoughts about your successes, your confidence, and your positive self-esteem. By deeply experiencing the good, you wire your brain for positivity.

 The #Science of Weakening #Trauma and Becoming More #Positive

The above post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. Josiah Hultgren is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a NeuroCoach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain. His mission is to help create a more vibrant world and apply neuroscience in ways that help people reach their highest potential. The content was derived from the Neuro Coach Pro Certification Program training created by Mark Robert Waldman.