Getting serious about meditation
Yesterday the University of Pennsylvania announced the results of a study aimed at understanding the benefits of meditative mindfulness training.
Amishi Jha, a cognitive neuroscientist at UPenn, worked with U.S. marines to instruct them in the practice of mindfulness using a trademarked Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT™).
“Our findings suggest that, just as daily physical exercise leads to physical fitness, engaging in mindfulness exercises on a regular basis may improve mind-fitness,” Jha said. “Working memory is an important feature of mind-fitness. Not only does it safeguard against distraction and emotional reactivity, but it also provides a mental workspace to ensure quick-and-considered decisions and action plans. Building mind-fitness with mindfulness training may help anyone who must maintain peak performance in the face of extremely stressful circumstances, from first responders, relief workers and trauma surgeons, to professional and Olympic athletes.”
Particularly exciting to me is the fact that this study was conducting within the context of military training, indicating a certain degree of institutional sanctioning and a positive indicator that meditation is moving further into the mainstream of Western culture. It makes me wonder how far off we are within the United States from integrating mindfulness training in public grade school curriculum, much like physical education (P.E.) was integrated into public education in the U.S. in the post-World War II era.