Meditation Research by Siegfried Othmer, former president of the neurofeedback division of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, found that people using brainwave training (a specific form of meditation) showed an average gain in IQ of 23 percent.
It’s been known for some time that meditation can play a role in healthcare by reducing stress and boosting the immune system. Now we find that meditating also makes us smarter. Not only did the people in Othmer’s study improve their IQs, but the effect was lasting. A follow-up study conducted one year later found that the participants continued to enjoy significant gains in creativity, concentration, and self-awareness.
Wow. The big takeaway from this study and others (summarized below) is that even brief meditation can have extraordinary benefits.
Multiple Studies Show Benefits
A 2009 study published in Consciousness and Cognition found that people who meditated for just 20 minutes a day for four days demonstrated measurable improvements in memory, cognition, and stress reduction. The study, “Mindfulness Meditation Improves Cognition: Evidence of Brief Mental Training,” found that “brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning. Our findings suggest that 4 days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.” The group that meditated scored as much as 10 times better on a working memory task — an important part of fluid intelligence.
How Does it Work
In layman’s terms, meditation pulls us out of our daily routines where we are usually working to address past or future concerns, and allows us to focus on the here and now. As thoughts enter our minds, we are asked to notice them without judgment. Our thoughts slow down as we become more mindful of our body, mind, and life situations. As brainwaves slow down, the brain is thought to increases its own plasticity, or ability to reorder thoughts. Meditation techniques vary, but most involve focused attention on your breath, a mantra, or music that help gives the brain the space it needs to relax and reorganize. It’s also thought that meditation helps us tap into the unconscious mind that drives a good deal of our thinking and behavior, and can make it easier for us to make health-enhancing changes in our lives.
There’s an App for That
As you might expect, where there is beneficial activity, there is a mobile application (app) to support it. Meditation is no different. Health website Healthline rates the best meditation apps of 2016, with the number 1 position held by Buddhify. “This is a mindfulness and meditation app that is built around you,” the judges said. “Buddhify is perfect for those who are ready to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into their entire day, with meditations that target every aspect of your life, from sleeping, to traveling, to being online. Even if you have never tried meditation before, Buddhify is a life-changer.”
Stress Relief, Inner Peace, and Intelligence
“Meditation is mind without agitation,” Indian meditation teacher Shrimati Bhanu Narasimhan says. Agitation, AKA stress, is linked to many health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, “If stress has you anxious, tense, and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.” Now we know that meditation can also make you smarter!