Rational Roundup #5 – Part II/III: Focus through Mindfulness?

The Rational Roundup, as previously announced, provides our readers with regular updates on rational thinking and current discussions among cognitive scientists. This is the second part of the latest edition, addressing positive psychology and the behavioral enhancement of your professional productivity. In this short briefing, I will share further thoughts on how to improve your professional work based on scientific evidence.

There is a reason why the Business Insider refers to Silicon Valley as obsessed with meditation. Scientifically proved, meditation is effective against stress (1), increases focus (2) and lowers blood pressure (3). To give some examples: Military personnel experienced a significant change in their stress-resistance (4), gray matter density can be increased (5) and attention improves from fourdays of practice on (6)!

But what is meditation after all? Do not worry: You do not need to wear special clothes and hum while waiting for a singing bowl to chime. Meditation is all about mindfulness. And this term stands for nothing more than focusing on your five senses to anchor your mind in the present moment. The principle is easy to understand: By focusing your mind on the exact moment, you are giving your brain a break from its day-to-day combination of worries, goals, reminders. This is helpful to reduce stress and fight high blood pressure.

But how to start? Again, the mobile-app Happify offers some free tracks to discover mindfulness. But you can start as easily as taking five to ten minutes per day off, focusing on your breathing in your throat, chest or abdomen. Further, try to experience life with all the senses. Catch yourself on autopilot: When brushing your teeth, showering or running to the bus, there is no need to shut-off your five senses.

If you are still not sure about mindfulness, discover this great science-based infographic: Click HERE


1: Chiesa/Serretti (2009). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Stress Management in Healthy People: A Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. May 2009, 15(5): 593-600.

2: Zeidan/Johnson/Diamond/et al. (2009). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training.

3: Ditto/Eclache/Goldman (2006). Short-term autonomic and cardiovascular effects of mindfulness body scan meditation. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2006, Volume 32, Number 3, Page 227

4: Stanley/Schaldach/et al. (2011). Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training: A Case Study of a High Stress Pre-deployment Military Cohort. Cognitive and Behavioral Pratice 18.4 (2011): 566-576.

5: Hölzel/Camody/et al. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30; 191(1): 36–43.

6: Zeidan/Johnson/Diamond/et al. (2009). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training.