by Charles Choi
Meditation is often thought to help open up the mind, and new findings suggest it can steer people away from the mental traps that drag out problem solving.
Meditative techniques could help not only help negotiators and managers find novel solutions to challenges, but perhaps also help people who are depressed or suffer other mental disorders who can’t see ways out of the problems that bedevil them, researchers said.
The psychologists found that, after only a few weeks of training, volunteers who learned “mindfulness practice” were better at switching strategies for problem-solving than volunteers who were not taught the technique.
Meditation is often aimed at expanding the limits of consciousness. Scientists in recent years have discovered that various forms of meditation can alter their minds in a variety of beneficial ways, such as freeing the mind from distractions, boosting attention span, relieving pain, enhancing mood and mental toughness, sharpening the mind and even improving sex.
The researchers, three members of the psychology department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, noted that meditation training often stresses that one should live in the present and avoid dwelling on the past. As such, they reasoned meditation could help people steer clear of rigid, myopic thinking.