Meditate to learn from past mistakes

May 26, 2019

Legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson (aka the “Zen Master”) knows that meditation is a great discipline and an effective tool for creating winning basketball teams. From the Chicago Bulls to the LA Lakers, Jackson has won 11 NBA titles, and his mantra has always been “one breath, one mind.”

But you don’t have to be part of an official team to use meditation to help you become more mentally agile when you’re interacting with others on your team or in the opposition at work and in school. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, meditation can help you learn faster from past experiences, both positive and negative. Non-meditators, on the other hand, tend to repeat past mistakes and react more intensely to negative outcomes. The researchers concluded that meditators learn quickly from their mistakes, while non-meditators tend to have a harder time finding the right solution.

The researchers had participants use focused attention meditation, a practice that involves sustained attention on, say, the sensations of breathing or the sensations while doing a walking meditation. This differs from mindful meditation in which you allow your attention to shift to whatever comes to mind (some tasks at work or a worry) and then let it drift away. Instead, you recognize such thoughts as distractions and release them, returning your focus to your intended point of concentration.

So, if you’re ready to play ball with focused meditation, you may find that you’re a champion when it comes to navigating life’s playing fields.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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