Productivity

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.


Rewire Your Brain and Become the
Best Version of You

Get personalized cognitive training proven to
enhance the structure and functioning of the brain.


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.


1-8_1qGzIGtw76_8MRX9uvjQ.jpg

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

 


Want to Upgrade Your Learning Abilities?

Get personalized cognitive training proven to
change the structure and functioning of the brain.


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.

How to Kill Burnout and Upgrade Your Performance the Easy Way

how-to-kill-burnout-and-upgrade-performance-the-easy-way

If you're like me, you've experienced how crippling burnout can be. Despite critical deadlines, burnout can keep your motivation at zero. Everything seems harder. And when it hits, the timing often couldn’t be worse.

Our subjective experience of burnout is validated by brain research. Burnout compromises the cognitive and emotional processes in the brain.

burnout-compromises-the-brain

But what are the most effective ways to prevent and recover from it? 

Your brain works best if you give it even the tiniest breaks (as little as 60 seconds can greatly improve your performance).

Here’s why:

Burnout is caused by too much focus on achieving goals for extended periods of time. We know from many studies that the longer you stay focused on achieving goals without taking breaks for enjoyment and relaxation, the more your work quality and performance decline. You need to turn down activity in the concentration center of your brain (the Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [DLPF]) several times an hour to allow your glial cells to clean away the stress-related byproducts generated by the neurons in this area.

The fastest way is to take relaxation break and to fully immerse yourself in any pleasurable activity for 1-3 minutes. This could be a taking a short walk, sipping a warm drink, massaging your own head, sketching a picture, looking at travel photos, watching a video on YouTube... Anything that you enjoy!

This cat massage video may help you.

That said, the most effective way to give your DLPF a rest is to enter a trance-like daydreaming state. Research shows that repeating the word "OM" like a yogi may be the fastest way to do this (other sounds don't appear to work!). That said, you may get some strange looks if you do this around others in the office and want to fall back on a more covert strategy.

Don’t feel guilty taking tiny indulgences throughout the day. In fact, we recommend getting very intentional about them. Set a timer to take quick breaks 1-3 times an hour. When you return to concentrate on a specific goal or task, you'll feel less stress and your productivity and performance will skyrocket. You’ll feel better, get more done, and you’ll protect your brain from debilitating burnouts.


Rewire Your Brain and Become the
Best Version of You

Get personalized cognitive training proven to
enhance the structure and functioning of the brain.


SOURCES:

Neurohemodynamic correlates of 'OM' chanting: A pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Kalyani BG, Venkatasubramanian G, Arasappa R, Rao NP, Kalmady SV, Behere RV, Rao H, Vasudev MK, Gangadhar BN. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jan;4(1):3-6.

Can we predict burnout severity from empathy-related brain activity? Tei S, Becker C, Kawada R, Fujino J, Jankowski KF, Sugihara G, Murai T, Takahashi H. Transl Psychiatry. 2014 Jun 3;4:e393.

Structural changes of the brain in relation to occupational stress. Savic I. Cereb Cortex. 2015 Jun;25(6):1554-64.


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.