Training the Brain with Mindfulness Meditation

Discover how to use mental exercise to stay psychologically fit and cognitively capable.

I’d like to offer you a bit of an historical perspective on the brain science of attention and the role that mindfulness has to play. Picture in your mind a scene from 100 years ago. Imagine yourself walking down the street—remembering that this is a time when there were very few cars and lots of bicycles and people walking and moving around. For someone from 1919, the idea of getting on a bicycle that’s without a back wheel and be asked to pedal as hard and fast as possible, for, say, 30 minutes, getting absolutely nowhere, would seem preposterous. Similarly, if you saw someone running down the street in 1919, you might be concerned: Are they being chased by a bear? Running from a fire? The point is that seeing people jogging or taking a spinning class 100 years ago would have been completely out of the ordinary. It’s a great reminder just how new these activities are. And it leads me to this question for all of us tuned into Mindful30 right now: Does physical activity improve physical well-being?

I suspect each of you listening may agree this is a strange question. It’s obvious that physical activity is necessary…

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About the author

Amishi Jha

Amishi Jha is a neuroscientist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami and author of a forthcoming book Peak Mind (2021, Harper One) on the science of attention. Her research focuses on the brain bases of attention, working memory, and mindfulness-based training. With grants from the US Department of Defense and several private foundations, her current projects investigate how to best promote resilience in high stress cohorts using contemplative/mind training techniques that strengthen the brain’s attention networks. She was selected as a Science and Public Leadership Fellow by PopTech, and serves on editorial review boards of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Frontiers in Cognitive Science, and Frontiers in Psychology.