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Lions Roar : January 2018
URING THE PAST TWO decades, we’ve discovered a lot about mindfulness. Specifically, there have been many studies of meditation, which is one of the best ways to culti- vate moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment. But sometimes, journalists and even scientists (who should know better) overstate the benefits. Indeed, the science behind mindfulness meditation has often suffered from poor study designs, lack of funding, and small effect sizes. As a result, there is still a lot we don’t understand about mindfulness and This article was largely adapted from content in Greater Good Magazine (greatergood.berkeley.edu), which covers the science of a meaningful life. Jeremy Adam Smith edits Great- er Good with Jill Suttie and Kira Newman. Hooria Jazaieri, lmft, is a former graduate research fellow with the Greater Good Science Center. The Science of Meditation What We Know and What We Don’t While people have believed for thousands of years that meditation works, the search for scientific proof is just beginning. The team at Greater Good Science Center assesses the current state of the evidence—what we do, don’t, and might know. meditation. Here’s a rundown of ques- tions that seem fairly settled, for the time being, and questions researchers are still exploring. Meditation almost certainly does sharpen your attention. It’s not surprising that meditation would affect attention, since many practices focus on this very skill. And, in fact, researchers have found that meditation helps to combat habitu- ation—the tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have BY JEREMY ADAM SMITH, HOORIA JAZAIERI, JILL SUTTIE & KIRA NEWMAN PHOTOBYMARVINMOORE D LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2018 63