Scientists have theorized that mindfulness promotes cognitive
awareness, enhances the ability to be attentive, and decreases rumination.
These cognitive gains contribute to strategies involving “emotion-regulation.”
specifically, the research on mindfulness techniques has found that mindfulness
has these benefits, especially for very busy people:
decreases rumination. There have been many studies showing that mindfulness
decreases rumination about the future. For example, researchers asked twenty
meditators to participate in a ten-day mindfulness meditation retreat. After
the retreat, the participants who practiced mindfulness had a higher degree of
mindfulness and decreased rumination. Those who practiced mindfulness had a
better working memory and were better able to focus on daily tasks.
reduces stress in busy people. There have been several studies
indicating that practicing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and
mindfulness-based stress reduction may be helpful in altering cognitive and
These findings are similar to evidence that mindfulness decreases negative
affect and anxiety, and increases positive affect. One study showed that
participants assigned to an 8-week mindfulness-based stress program were
compared to controls on measures of psychopathology, anxiety, and
It also measured neural activity as
measured by a functional MRI scan after watching several sad movies.
Additionally, the functional MRI scans showed that those who practiced
mindfulness had less neural reactivity when they were exposed to the movies
when compared to the control group.
This suggests that mindfulness shifts the person’s ability to make use of
emotion regulation strategies in such a way that enables them to experience
emotion selectivity. The emotions they experienced might be processed
differently inside the brain.
increases working memory. Improvements in the working memory of busy people
seem to be another benefit of mindfulness. In a 2010 study, for example, there
were documented benefits of mindfulness among a group of participants who
underwent an 8-week course in mindfulness training.
Both groups were highly stressed. The researchers found that those that didn’t
meditate had a decrease in their working memory, while those who meditated had
an increase in working memory. In addition, mindfulness was related to positive
affect and inversely related to negative affect.
improves focus in busy people. There was another study that
looked at how mindfulness meditation affected the participant’s ability to
focus on attention and their ability to suppress distracting information.
The researchers looked at those who were experienced in mindfulness with those
who had no experience with the technique. Those who practiced mindfulness had
better performance on attention tasks and had a greater degree of self-reported
decreases emotional reactivity. Researchers also supported the
idea that mindfulness lessens emotional reactivity. In a study of those who had
from a month to 29 years of mindfulness practice, those that had practice in mindfulness
helped people disengage from emotionally-upsetting pictures and helped them
focus better on cognitive tasks when compared to those who did not practice