We all know that meditation comes with a variety of health benefits. Research has shown that it can alleviate anxiety and reduce stress. It can lower your blood pressure and help you stay sharp as you age. One study even found that as little as 10 minutes of meditation can be as beneficial as a vacation day and another deduced that the same short session is worth an extra 44 minutes of sleep. Now, a new study published in Brain Sciences indicates that there’s yet another benefit to add to this long list: A 20-minute meditation session can help you make fewer mistakes.
For the study, researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) asked 200 people who had never meditated before to complete a 20-minute meditation exercise, followed by a computerized distraction test. Lead author Yanli Lin, a psychology PhD candidate at MSU, and his colleagues then measured subjects’ brain activity through electroencephalography, or EEG. The results showed that while the session did not necessarily make the participants better at completing the computer task itself, it did seem to enhance their awareness of their mistakes.
“The EEG can measure brain activity at the millisecond level, so we got precise measures of neural activity right after mistakes compared to correct responses,” Lin said in a statement. “A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, which is linked to conscious error recognition. We found that the strength of this signal is increased in the meditators relative to controls.”
To Lin, these findings provide evidence that “just 20 minutes of meditation can … enhance the brain’s ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes.”
Omri Kleinberger, a yoga and meditation expert and the founder of the wellness company Ometa, told Best Life that this makes sense, considering that “one of the first principles of meditation is to understand that your thoughts are not you, and they don’t define you.”
Once you recognize how much control you can have over your own thoughts and mistakes, you can better evaluate the choices that you make, and reprogram your responses to stimuli so that they are more in line with your ideal vision of yourself.
And for more reasons to make mindful time for yourself, Here Are the Major Health Benefits of Being Kinder to Yourself.