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Surprising Science

Stuck in a Rut? Meditation Can Help Get You Out.

Experimental psychologists at the University of Negev, Israel, have found that just three weeks of meditation training helped individuals discover novel solutions to old problems. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Experimental psychologists at the University of Negev, Israel, have concluded that just a few weeks of meditation training are sufficient to help individuals think more creatively and change mental patterns that may be harmful to their health. One experiment asked two groups of people–12 experienced in Buddhist meditation and 15 with no experience–to solve a brain teaser requiring different hypothetical jugs of water to be filled. The experienced meditators were quicker to use different strategies in filling the jugs. When the experiment was repeated with a group of newcomers, half of whom were given three weeks meditation training, these meditators were also better at solving the problem creatively.

What’s the Big Idea?

Perhaps the central practice of meditation is mindfulness, i.e. becoming more aware of your own consciousness and thereby expanding its reach into your daily mental life. “The results [of the experiments] demonstrate that mindfulness makes us less automatic, less blinded by our habits and past experiences, and enables us to better consider alternatives, to experience things in a fresh way, and with more of a ‘beginner’s mind,'” said researcher Jonathan Greenberg. Meditation has also been known to help patients struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts to escape their cyclical thinking and reach a new perspective. 

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