It happens to everyone. You need to concentrate but your mind wanders. Perhaps you had a spat with your boyfriend and you can’t get it out of your mind. Or your boss is being a jerk. Again. Maybe there’s a big important test coming up and you’re worried about it. Instead of studying for the test, some part of your brain is listing all the bad things that are going to happen when you blow the test: you won’t get into grad school, you’ll lose your scholarship, it will be humiliating, your parents will know that you’re a hopeless failure and you’ll be lucky to get a job in a laundromat folding someone else’s underwear.
Don’t despair, research scientists to the rescue! A team from UC Santa Barbara including Michael D. Mrazek, PhD, Michael S. Franklin, PhD, and Dawa Tarchin Phillips conducted a study to see if mindfulness meditation would enable better test performance for some of their undergrads trying to score high enough on the GRE to get into a graduate program. Participants took tests that mimicked parts of the GRE to establish a baseline. Then they were separated into two groups, one of which took two weeks of mindfulness meditation training. You won’t be surprised to learn that meditators performed meaningfully better on the actual GRE. Research link here. Have a friend or family member who goes into brain lock facing a standardized test? Perhaps some meditation would be in order.
Seems like that would have been a good idea for those parents who were bribing schools to get their kids in. Might have saved money, pride, relationship with children and jail time.
BTW, Phillips is now an author, speaker on leadership and an executive coach. Phillips and Mrazek also now operate the Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential.
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