The Benefits of Mindfulness
“Breathing In vs. Spacing Out”
The New York Times, January 14, 2014
“Two and a half millenniums ago, a prince named Siddhartha Gautama traveled to Bodh Gaya, India, and began to meditate beneath a tree. Forty-nine days of continuous meditation later, tradition tells us, he became the Buddha—the enlightened one.
“More recently, a psychologist named Amishi Jha traveled to Hawaii to train United States Marines to use the same technique for shorter sessions to achieve a much different purpose: mental resilience in a war zone…‘We found that getting as little as 12 minutes of meditation a day helped the Marines to keep their attention and working memory—that is, the added ability to pay attention over time—stable,’ said Jha, director of the University of Miami's Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative. ‘If they practiced less than 12 minutes or not at all, they degraded in their functioning.’
“Jha, whose program has received a $1.7 million, four-year grant from the Department of Defense, described her results at a bastion of scientific conservatism, the New York Academy of Sciences, during a meeting on 'The Science of Mindfulness.'”. . . Michael Posner, of the University of Oregon, and Yi-Yuan Tang, of Texas Tech University, used diffusion tensor imaging before and after participants spent a combined 11 hours over two weeks practicing a form of mindfulness meditation developed by Tang. They found that it enhanced the integrity and efficiency of the brain's white matter, the tissue that connects and protects neurons emanating from the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of particular importance for rational decision-making and effortful problem-solving.”