Some of the most obvious benefits we associate with mindfulness practice are immediate stress reduction from living in the present and deeper enjoyment of our lives. In addition, a 2012 study (1) uncovered another benefit from this awareness practice known in psychological terms as a decrease in cognitive rigidity.
In other words, those who participate in mindfulness practice have proven to demonstrate more open, flexible thinking and, as a result, can problem-solve more successfully than their non-practicing peers.
In this particular study, participants were presented with an on-screen task of using three jars of varying sizes and amounts of water to fill a target amount in a final jar by adding or subtracting volumes of water in the most easy and straight-forward way. Those who were experienced in the practice of mindfulness or had undergone a six-week mindfulness intervention outscored those who had no mindfulness practice experience.
Mindfulness promotes the “beginner’s mind”; a mental stance not clouded by past experiences, prejudices and what it thinks it already knows. These assumptions hold us back from seeing new, simple, and sometimes novel solutions right under our nose. Astonishingly, the demonstrated benefits of this beginner’s mind were seen in as little as six weeks of practice.
This practice can have monumental effects on your day-to-day life, and there can be much larger health benefits from jumping into the mindfulness movement.
Depression, risk of suicide and substance abuse have all been linked with narrow thinking. In these cases, perceived lack of options leads down a slippery slope that could even prove fatal. (2)
For health professionals, managers, leaders, and decision makers, adaptive thinking proves paramount in in the ability to be effective, strategic and, ultimately successful. (3)
The simple concept of taking up mindfulness practice might interest you as a way to decrease your accelerated pace of living and appreciate small details of your day. However, be prepared for your mind to flourish in new directions as mindfulness practice proves itself an avenue to maintain flexible thinking. This may be the way to keep the path wide, our vision broad, and our options vast. There is not an area of life that would not be impacted by such a monumental change in perspective.
Greenberg J, Reiner K, Meiran N (2012). “Mind the Trap”: Mindfulness Practice Reduces Cognitive Rigidity,7(5).
Cangemi J, Miller R (2007). Breaking-out-of-the-box in organizations. Journal of Management Development, 26(5).
Coleman D, Kaplan MS, Casey JT (2011). The social nature of male suicide: A new analytic model. International Journal of Men’s Health, 10(3).