This is the 5th part of the series which discovers the benefits of having a regular mindfulness practice. I try to add my personal experience regarding the benefit I write about. Those advantages stem from books, articles, videos, and my personal experience.
I recommend to read the 1st part which you can find here.
Good news for all students and those who work with tight deadlines. A multitude of mindfulness-based studies showed significant improvements in cognitive skills after only four days of training. Mindfulness practitioners performed particularly well on mental and physical tasks that required sustained attention. Moreover, this was also true for stressful tasks performed under time constraints. That one is tricky to evaluate for me. Sure, I have deadlines, and I meet those deadlines if nothing unexpected happens. However, I consider my current job not really as significant when it comes to really tight and stressful deadlines. Maybe I don’t see it, because I have a different perception regarding stress (trained through practicing mindfulness), but maybe it is just not as stressful as other jobs. Maybe it has something to do with being aware of a time constraint. When I know how much time I have, and I plan accordingly, I don’t get stressed so easily and can therefore perform better under stress. And, if I have strong sustained attention, it also means that I might be faster in solving those tasks.
Research also shows that practicing mindfulness keeps you bright and alert. A study done at the Emory University in the US compared brains and cognitive skills of meditators to a similar group of non-meditators. In the control group, older participants had lower accuracy and speed of response, as you might expect. However, this age-related decline was not found in the meditator group. They found that the reduction of grey matter that is typically accompanied by aging had been offset by the mindfulness practice. Something that is also difficult to assess as I consider myself still young (yeah, I hear my younger friends say I am already old… you are lucky I cannot hear you so good anymore :D). Future will tell =).
Practicing mindfulness helps you to be more kind towards yourself. Okay, this takes some time. Maybe at first it gets worse. You will be more aware of your thoughts. The good AND the bad ones. However, with some more practice and time you will discover the reasons behind those thoughts and you will see them in others as well. You will understand yourself and understanding can then be the foundation for compassion. You can see watch things from the outside and this distance also takes away some of the intense feelings. This is pretty helpful if those feelings are negative. This is based purely on my own experiences with mindfulness. I am interested whether you experienced something similar?
Take care, Stephan