Do you ever worry about your dwindling attention span or struggle to focus on studies or work? In today’s world, our brains are constantly in the receiver mode. More often than not, there’s no time to fully process what has happened as we constantly let our mind hop from one thing to another. Consequently, this mind hopping pattern leads to a decrease in our attention span. But, the good news is that mediation acts as the perfect antidote to this problem. So, let’s find out does meditation increase attention span.
Does Meditation Increase Attention Span?
Meditators are less likely to find themselves at the mercy of distractions and an unruly mind than people who don’t meditate. Several studies have found that intensive meditation training can enhance your cognitive benefits, which, as long as you keep practicing, last a long time.
A study published in New York Times showed that just three days of mindful strengthens the connection between areas in your brain related to focus and those that process reactions to stress.
Another more recent study conducted by Havard in 2011 unveiled that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing.
Meditation Forms That Increase Attention Span
Although all forms of meditation aim for a similar goal, certain types are more productive for different people. Some include:
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Among the many meditation techniques that are easily accessible, one of the most effective and best-known ways to improve concentration is to practice mindfulness. This technique specifically focuses on your breath and observes thoughts as they drift through your mind. The purpose is to simply be aware of how you are feeling, not to become absorbed. As you train the mind to remain present and fully focused on one object – physical sensations or the process of breathing, for example – you learn to let go of all other thoughts and distractions as well.
How To Meditate?
- Find a quiet spot where you feel most comfortable.
- Set a timer for the amount of time you want to meditate. Start with five minutes and move up from there.
- Sit on a chair or on the floor, whichever is more comfortable.
- Shut your eyes and focus on your breath; on where it feels the strongest. When thoughts enter your mind, don’t reject them. Simply acknowledge them and gently return your attention to your breath.
2. Guided Meditation
If you find meditation challenging, guided meditation for concentration might be a place to start. In this method of practice, the voice of an instructor guides you through your meditation session. The session could take place at your home or in a group setting. Practicing guided meditation often seems easier than doing it alone, but it’s important to remain vigilant because the very comfort of being guided and following instructions is so soothing that the mind will want to wander – or you’ll doze off. If that happens, don’t get carried away. Bring your mind back to the practice.
Start with this simple guided meditation to release stress.
3. Focused Meditation
In this method you need to focus your attention on an object, sound, or sensation rather than trying to achieve a clear mind without a specific focal point. Focused meditation is also feasible without an instructor or teacher, which makes it accessible to anyone with a few minutes of time, something to focus on, and a quiet place.
4. Moving Meditation
When we think of meditation, we picture ourselves sitting like Buddhist monks in silence. But, it’s not mandatory. At least not in moving mediation which is an umbrella term used to refer to a rich variety of meditative techniques that include mindful and repetitive movements. In this method, you move slowly, firmly, and rhythmically, with correct postures and with deep continuous breaths. The physical movements help you focus your thoughts on the movements themselves, allowing you to flow in the river of your unguided thoughts while keeping your mind clear and focused.
5. Breath Cycles
Another method of meditation that is especially useful for those who find it difficult to concentrate is to count your breath cycles. Combining mindfulness with deep breathing, which is suggested to improve your ability to combat stress, makes counting your breath cycles a particularly great method to sustain focus.
To practice this type of meditation, remain fully aware while counting your breaths like this: inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three, and so on. Since counting breath cycles requires full awareness, this is a powerful practice to strengthen concentration. If you find that your mind has wandered, simply start again. With time, patience, and practice, you’ll soon find yourself able to count to higher numbers.
When you start practicing meditation for focus, you’ll realize that the sessions won’t be easy initially. But remember that with meditation, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So, start with a short meditation practice and slowly work your way up to longer sessions.
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About the author:
Suhasini Jha is a Mumbai-based ex-journalist who has previously worked with Firstpost and Moneycontrol.