“A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind.” Matt Killingsworth, behavioral scientist.

Research suggests that actually being present with what we’re feeling and experiencing in the moment—good or bad—is better for our happiness.

The benefits of building focus

To train one’s attention systems to become more aware of the mind’s natural tendency to wander. Behavioral research shows that practicing mindful meditation trains various aspects of attention, improves working memory, fluid intelligence and even standardized test scores. In this foundational style of meditation, the practitioner is instructed to keep her attention on a single object, often the physical sensations of breathing.  This repeated mental exercise is like going to the gym for your brain.

The nature of the mind is to wander during the practice of mindfulness. At some point, you will realize that your mind is no longer focused on the breath. You proceed to disengage from the thought that had drawn you away and steer your attention back to your breath. A few moments later, the cycle will repeat. Use it as an opportunity to become more aware of your own mental experience. But you may still want to return to the present moment. Thoughts become less sticky because your brain gets re-wired to be better at recognizing and disengaging from wandering. And if you’ve ever struggled with rumination—re-living a negative experience over and over, or stressing (unproductively) about an upcoming event—you can appreciate how being able to let go of your thoughts is beneficial.

“It does look like activities that foster meaningful positive psychological change, like meditation, positively impact cellular ageing.” Dr. Clifford Saron, UC Davis

“The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.” Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson