Well into the frenzy of the holiday season, we could all use some sound, easy-to-implement method for maintaining focus and clarity. We're tired of myriad distractions derailing us from our ever-lengthening to-do lists, and overwhelmed by stimuli at the mall that pull us off course. Just in the Nick of time, a ray of hope shines forth from this past Sunday's New York Times: an article about new research that tells us, with a bit of practice, we can all attain a mindfulness that would make Sherlock Holmes proud.
The author, Maria Konnikova, writes about studies from University of Wisconsin and University of Washington that prove even a small amount of meditation can help us achieve real-world benefits: "As little as five minutes a day of intense Holmes-like inactivity, and a happier outlook is yours for the taking. . . But mindfulness goes beyond improving emotion regulation. An exercise in mindfulness can also help with that plague of modern existence: multitasking. Of course, we would like to believe that our attention is infinite, but it isn’t. Multitasking is a persistent myth. What we really do is shift our attention rapidly from task to task. Two bad things happen as a result. We don’t devote as much attention to any one thing, and we sacrifice the quality of our attention. When we are mindful, some of that attentional flightiness disappears as if of its own accord."