Friday, 8 November 2013

Meditation and Sense of Time

To Do lists are a commonly used tools by many people to organize and prioritize tasks in their lives that need to be completed. Unfortunately what a lot people tend to end up with are more tasks on their lists than check marks for completion.  There is no doubt this is a usual occurrence in the lives of undergraduate students as their common complaints include the lack of time they feel they have. More and more students complain they do not have enough time to do all their readings, assignments and study for exams as much as they need to. There just isn’t enough time in a day to get everything on their To Do lists done or at least done to their preferred quality.  This can also be seen on the To Do lists in the lives of people not on the university campus as well.  The same thoughts may cross the mind of a busy working parent as they try to make it to the grocery store, get the Christmas shopping done and make time for their family while still ensuring they work their 40 hour work week. At some point it all just becomes too much and we think “there has to be more time in a day.” Perhaps the solution to this problem is tricking your mind into thinking time isn’t passing you as fast as it is, making your mind believe time is moving slower. Now how exactly can this be done? 

A recently published study provides support for the use of mediation to accomplish this goal.  Kramer, Weger and Sharma (2013) examined the effect of a specific type of meditation, mindfulness meditation, on individual’s s perception of time. It was found that individuals who participated in a ten minute mindfulness meditation breathing exercise came to report longer perceived durations of time elapsing than did individuals who instead listened to an audio tape of the Hobbit novel. Individuals who were part of the meditation exercise later perceived more time passing by as measured by the reported length of time they stated they saw a circle displayed on a computer screen. The overestimation of time experienced by the meditators resulted from an attentional shift that meditation promotes.