".. Mindfulness, the practice of being present and in the moment, is easier for some people than for others. But it is a skill that many believe is worth cultivating—some say, starting with children. Preventing your mind from taking you into the past or future can, after all, be an antidote to depression (which can result from ruminating over previous mistakes, say) and anxiety (about bad things that might happen). Practicing attending to the sights, sounds and other sensations of the moment can, research shows, be calming. It can also train your focus. Both of these effects, it turns out, can have a fundamental impact on brain function.
In particular, mindfulness seems to buttress the brain’s “executive” functions, which are needed to plan and carry out goals. These functions include working memory, where we store data short-term and manipulate it; the ability to shift mental gears and, importantly, self-regulation, which is largely, stopping ourselves from doing stupid things. Many educators now say these basic functions are worth training in schools, because they prepare students to learn and indeed, seem to have a significant impact on academic achievement. They also promote success in other ways.
The ability to pay attention in school and elsewhere, after all, relies on being able to think about the right things, and inhibit thoughts that lead you astray, so it is part of self-regulation. Maintaining focus may also depend on good working memory. Self-regulation itself is closely linked to self-control, the ability to act in a way that furthers your goals even when doing something else seems more immediately appealing. Having a lot of self-control, thus, helps kids get their homework done. Indeed, this trait is advantageous in so many situations that, research shows, it far outweighs IQ when it comes to measures of success, including your health and financial status as an adult...."
For more on executive functions and learning, and the importance of self-control, see feature article By Ingrid Wickelgren“Schools Add Workouts for Attention, Grit and Emotional Control” in the September/October Scientific American Mind.)
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Via Lou Salza, Carolyn D Cowen