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The Benefits of Focusing Openly and Intently

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Concerned that your inability to concentrate might affect your productivity at work? You might be interested in the results of a powerful scientific study.

According to an announcement posted on, mental exercises can actually impact brain structure in as little as two months. As one researcher explained:

This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.

The scientists asked their experimental group to spend an average of 27 minutes a day on a practice called “mindful meditation.” This term might sound strange for a university program led by qualified medical doctors, but in reality “mindful mediation” is merely taking time to “[focus] on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.” After eight weeks, brain scans showed “increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory” as well as “decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress.”

To gauge the study, the scientists took images of the brain structure before and after they took part in this Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. Those were compared against a group of non-mediators over the same time interval.

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.” says Britta Hölzel, PhD, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. “Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.”

consultant thinking

© Flickr user @boetter

To suggest that the connection between mindfulness and brain structure could hint at a link between concentration and productivity is not a big leap. Science is starting to prove that if you focus openly and intently, you will think more clearly and experience less stress. If you were able to eliminate stress just by focusing in the proper way, would that not be something that you’d want to do?

“These results shed light on the mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based training. They demonstrate that the first-person experience of stress can not only be reduced with an 8-week mindfulness training program but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amydala, a finding that opens doors to many possibilities for further research on MBSR’s potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.”

If this sort of thing is powerful enough to help with PTSD, then it can certainly make great strides in whatever it is you’re dealing with at work. Ideally you’d be able to set up the perfect workspace for your particular working style, but unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Where relocating and redecorating falls short, perhaps properly focusing can fill in the gaps.

At AccelaWork, we’ve been talking for years about the challenges of distractions at the workplace. When you can’t concentrate or take time for yourself, it’s no surprise that you get less done and become frustrated. Take time to be mindful, and give others space to devote to their work. That’s a situation where everyone wins. You’ll soon discover yourself becoming more productive, more satisfied, and less stressed overall!

For more information on how to bring these principles into your day-to-day work, contact the business improvement consultants at AccelaWork today! We can help you take that extra step into a zen-like level of focus.

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