One of the often mentioned benefits of a regular meditation practice .. is an improvement in our ability to focus and concentrate.

This is often something we realise for ourselves quite quickly, once we start a meditate practice .. it’s like going to the gym and lifting weights; in meditation we are flexing, relaxing, strengthening and building our ‘concentration muscle’ (the brain).

There is a mountain of research going right back to the 1970s when research was focused on Buddhist monks who had regularly meditated for years; and were found to perform better than most on concentration tests. Over the past five years, further studies have gone on to show that meditation can also yields substantial gains in concentration for laypeople who take up the practice.

A recent paper in the journal Psychological Science reported on a study which showed intensive meditation can help people focus their attention and sustain it – even during the most boring of tasks. And another recent study even suggested that meditation doesn’t have to be intensive to have an effect.

Scientists at the University of North Carolina found that students were able to improve their performance on cognitive skill tests after just four days of meditation training (20 min. a day). On one particularly challenging computer test of sustained attention, students who meditated did 10 times better than a control group; and also performed better on timed information-processing tasks designed to induce deadline stress.

Findings reported in the Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging journal found that meditating for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks produced measurable changes in gray-matter density in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory; and reduction of gray matter in the amygdale the region connect with anxiety and stress.

Always great when science catches up with these ancient time-tested practices .. after all .. why would people have continued to practice and share, for thousands of years, these amazing life tools?  Ah, because they work!