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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Meditation: More Benefits

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: May 8th 2007

Do you want to improve your attention span and your creativity? Read this:

1. According to an article in the New York Times, Dr. Richard Davidson, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, meditation may be able to help people improve their ability to focus their attention. Evidently, there is something referred to as the "attentional blink" that results in a brief loss of attention. Meditation involves using breathing techniques to relax and "letting go of thoughts" as ways of getting into a meditative state. The study demonstrated the fact that meditation allows attention to become more flexible, allowing a person to gain more control and retain information that would otherwise have been lost.

It seems when there is too much stimuli, attention becomes misallocated. If things are happening too fast, the brain may not detect some of the stimuli, resulting in the "attentional blink." Increased experience with meditation seems to result in the ability to grasp competing stimuli rather than it going unnoticed.

With improved ability to focus attention as a result of meditation it is thought that people can improve their ability to focus their attention show by the ability to do such things as listen, see, study and retain information much better. People could improve their ability to learn, drive their cars, and improve piano playing, among many other things.

Because meditation involves letting go of thoughts that easily intrude and interfere with attention, more of the brain is freed of these distracting thoughts so that energy can be better focused on attention.

2. In another study reported in Scientific American magazine discussed research done by psycho biologist Ernest L. Rossi and others, using visualizations in which a student or worker goes on a mental vacation at work actually helps to relieve stress and tension so that people can people can improve their ability to think clearly and creatively. The researchers stress the idea that a twenty minute mental vacation every two hours or so is not a waste of time and actually improves productivity.

In this type of meditation the individual gets into a relaxed state using breathing and muscle relaxation prior to imagining an ideal place to vacation. The use of imagination includes using all five senses to be on the vacation. In other words, if it is at the ocean, imagine the sound of the ocean, the smell of the ocean water, the sounds of the various birds and the feeling of the sand beneath your feet. With practice it is possible to become totally immersed in the experience. The ultimate result for people of all ages is improved attention, clear-mindedness and greater creativity. Soft music can be used to enhance the experience. There are CD recordings available to help guide your way on the journey. Smart employers and school officials should integrate this practice into the work day.

Remember the old saying: "All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy."

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at dransphd@aol.com for details.

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