A study conducted by Harald Harung of Oslo University College (Norway), Yvonne Lagrosen, University West (Sweden) and Fred Travis, Maharishi University of Management (USA) showed that advanced meditators as well as the world’s great achievers (classical musicians, top business leaders, world-class athletes, etc.) possess “high mind brain development”.
Their brains have developed in such a way that allows greater focus and attention, their thinking is clearer; they are able to plan and think logically and focus on details. A 2010 study at the Donders Institutes for Brain, Cognition and Behavior’s Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging (Netherlands) found that meditators were better at orienting and attention, resulting in greater accuracy at higher speeds during testing.
The ability to remain “in the zone”, in that intensely focused, alert yet relaxed state gives top achievers and meditators a distinct advantage during times when the average person becomes too stressed or distracted to think logically, or allow for full physical or creative capacity (such as athletes or musicians).
Retention of information is increased with meditation due to the ability to focus and to be in the alpha brain wave state, which is simultaneously relaxed and receptive. Meditators often report better quality of sleep due to their ability to reduce stress and to control their thoughts (instead of allowing them to run wild during the night); this results in being more awake and alert during the day - thus allowing meditators to focus and to think with greater clarity.
RMIT University in Melbourne conducted a study that showed a correlation between self-mastery and a continued desire for improvement. The study was mainly focused on competitive athletes, but applies equally to any high-achieving segment of the population as well as advanced meditators.
Essentially, when one achieves mastery of the mind and controls thoughts and emotions and when one’s mind operates at this high level, the desire to keep improving is high. High achievers never settle for what they have achieved. They keep striving to hone their skills. They have developed the ability, and the desire, to learn, grow and expand.
Self-knowledge and self-mastery require time and effort. The more you engage in mental training, the more insight you gain and the more you trust that it is effective as you learn to manage stress through thought/emotional control and use both hemispheres of the brain to problem-solve.
One very interesting fact is that meditators and the world’s top achievers develop intrinsic (internal) motivation as opposed to extrinsic (external) motivation to achieve their goals. Their focus on intrinsic rewards allows them to be confident and satisfied with their performance without the “learned helplessness” that comes with doing your best and never getting the external results you wanted - the trophy, the accolades, the contract, etc.
Time spent in daily meditation has far reaching effects, beyond relaxation and stress reduction. It gives you a way to train your mind to work for you rather than against you so you can achieve your greatest goals.