A group of people meditating in a park in Washington, D.C. A group of people meditating in a park in Washington, D.C. A group of people meditating in a park in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)

Never meditated? This simple hack can make you smarter

New study shows that a mere 10 minutes of daily meditation significantly improves your cognitive dexterity.

With schools starting back up across the country, students will be looking for any way they can to get a leg up on their studies. Whether it's an all-night study session or getting a sneak peek at the test, having that edge can make all the difference.

Well, according to a new study, a 10-minute lifehack might be all that they need. College students who listened to a 10-minute meditation tape were able to complete simple cognitive tasks more quickly and accurately than peers who didn't listen to that tape. Both groups were then given simple tasks designed to measure cognitive dexterity. Those who listened to the meditation recording performed significantly better, across two different studies. The study was published this month in the science journal Frontiers of Neuroscience.

De-stress by watching these YouTube videos. Students who meditated performed better on cognitive tests. (Photo: CHAIWATPHOTOS / Shutterstock)

Hedy Kober, an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale, was the senior author of the study. "We have known for awhile that people who practice meditation for a few weeks or months tend to perform better on cognitive tests, but now we know you don't have to spend weeks practicing to see improvement," she said.

Kober has been studying the way the brain works for quite some time. The Israeli scientist started college at the age of 16 at Tel Aviv University. She eventually received her Ph.D. at Columbia University and is now the director of the Clinical & Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. You can watch her TED Talk on the topic of mindfulness below:

"I'm not a Buddhist evangelist," Kober explained. "I myself meditate, and I've been meditating myself quite sometime ... What I found was that it did to my mind what going to the gym does to my body. It makes it both stronger and more flexible." She credits meditation with helping her deal with everything from physical illnesses to her fear of public speaking.

So how do you know if you're meditating correctly? Kober's fellow Israeli, Doron Libshtein, founded the Mentors Channel, which now has a global audience of 3 million people. He said there is no wrong or right way to meditate. "Nor is one technique better than another. It is a very personal practice that differs from one practitioner to the next. The main thing is to take the time to clear the mind as much as possible and just relax with as little outside stimulation as possible. You know when you are doing it right because you will feel calm and renewed upon finishing."

Looking to get started meditating? Check out Libshtein's other advice for beginners.


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