Jeena Cho, a Forbes contributor who covers mental health, mindfulness and work-life integration, is also a lawyer who teaches other lawyers and professionals to practice mindfulness and meditation. She notes the irony in this, as layers may seem like an unlikely group of professionals to practice mindfulness and meditation, but there’s a growing number of law schools and firms teaching these tools for improved concentration and emotional regulation—even top companies such as Google and Goldman Sachs Group, are now practicing mindfulness for its many other scientifically proven benefits.
1. Mindfulness Reduces Anxiety
Cho says she started practicing mindfulness and meditation because of debilitating anxiety. Much of the work she does as a lawyer requires anticipating all the bad things that can happen in a case—conditions ripe for anxiety. In a 2013 Massachusetts General Hospital study, 93 individuals with DSM-IV-diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were randomly assigned to an 8-week group intervention with mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or to a control group, stress management education (SME). The group that went through the MBSR program was associated with a significantly greater reduction in anxiety.
2. Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Implicit Age and Race Bias
Humans naturally rely on established associations and cognitive shortcuts to navigate through the world. Some shortcuts are necessary—for example, knowing your bias towards what you prefer to eat for breakfast. However, these associations can be destructive when it comes to certain biases, especially related to age and race. In the criminal law context, for instance, it’s crucial that everyone involved in the system, from police officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys to the judges, be mindful of their own biases.
3. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) May Prevent And Treat Depression
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) combines elements from mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). According to the American Psychological Association, “MBCT is an eight-week, group-based program that incorporates mindfulness exercises including yoga, body awareness and daily homework, such as eating or doing household chores, with full attention to what one is doing, moment by moment.”
4. Increase Body Satisfaction
Body dissatisfaction is a major source of suffering among women of all ages. In a study by researchers Ellen R. Albertson, Kristin D. Neff and Karen E. Dill-Shackleford, women were assigned to either a meditation intervention group or a control group. Those in the intervention group received three-week self-compassion meditation training. Compared to the control group, the women in the intervention group “experienced significantly greater reduction in body dissatisfaction, body shame and contingent self-worth based on appearance, as well as greater gains in self-compassion and body appreciation.” Interestingly, these effects were maintained three months later.
5. Mindfulness Meditation Improves Cognition
In a 2010 study published in Consciousness and Cognition Journal, researchers assigned 24 people in the intervention group. They received four sessions of mindfulness meditation training. The control had 25 people, and this group listened to an audio book. Results showed that both the mindfulness meditation training group and the control group showed improved mood, but only meditation training reduced fatigue and anxiety and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory and executive functioning. Researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that four days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.”
6. Mindfulness Meditation Help The Brain Reduce Distractions
Training the mind to focus and concentrate is becoming more critical than ever in this 24/7 world where our attention is being pulled in 100 different direction at once. In a Harvard study, researchers reported that “brain cells use particular frequencies, or waves, to regulate the flow of information in much the same way that radio stations broadcast at specific frequencies. One frequency, the alpha rhythm, is particularly active in the cells that process touch, sight and sound in the brain’s outermost layer, called the cortex, where it helps to suppress irrelevant or distracting sensations and regulate the flow of sensory information between brain regions.”
Read more on: forbes.com.