Meditation — When Doing it Wrong Works out Just Right

By | December 16, 2013

Exercising willpower

It seems like everywhere we turn we are being urged to meditate in order to reduce stress, improve concentration and otherwise enhance awesomeness (Here’s some bullet points from the Mayo Clinic on the potential benefits of meditation.)

Kelly McGonigal, Ph. D., author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It recommends meditation as a way to train the brain and teach the mind how to handle both inner distractions and outer temptations. The book recommends a meditation practice of spending five minutes, eyes closed, observing your breath.

The challenge is that other thoughts sneak in. According to McGonigal, being “bad” at meditation is exactly what makes the practice effective.

The act of catching yourself being distracted and re-focusing your attention on breathing is the same impulse required by willpower. Teaching yourself to return to meditation uses the same “muscle” as teaching yourself to skip dessert or avoid making a snarky remark.

Have you tried meditation? Share your experience in the comments.