Rimma Teper, co-author of the study and Ph.D student at the University of Toronto-Scarborough, says research thus far has demonstrated that individuals who meditate have better facility with tasks and self-control. She says until now, it's never been clear why that is.
Psychologists define self-control as the ability to pay attention to appropriate stimuli and initiate the appropriate behaviour, while inhibiting inappropriate behaviour. Quite simply, we know self-control to be "that thing" that keeps us from cracking open some brewskies at our office desk instead of cracking open a Word document, or what gets us out of bed for a morning jog instead of pressing the snooze button.
Researchers found that between 'awareness of the present moment' and 'acceptance of emotional states'—the two primary practices emphasized in most meditation traditions—the latter was more successful in their tests. This means that mindful awareness, described as the "more cognitive" aspect of mindfulness, had little to do with success on the test.
The research is forthcoming and will be presented in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. To read more about how the researchers conducted their study, click here.
[photo © flickr.com/—Sam—]