Just 20 minutes of meditation can help you make fewer mistakes in life

New research has found mindfulness meditation makes us more sensitive to the "error positivity" response in our brains

man meditating
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Meditation is good for us - we know that. Meditation has been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, it improves our productivity, it's been found to boost memory and fight the onset of Alzheimer's... and this is just scratching the surface. 

Meditation's been found to carry loads of benefits, and science has just found another: meditation can help you make fewer mistakes. There's never been a better time to learn how to meditate by perusing our guide. 

This new research, coming from scientists at Michigan State University, recruited more than 200 participants to check meditation's effects on brain activity by using electroencephalography, or EEG, to measure electrical impulses in the brain that occur after a mistake and after a success.  

Study co-author Jeff Lin said: "A certain neural signal occurs about half a second after an error called the error positivity, which is linked to conscious error recognition. We found that the strength of this signal is increased in the meditators relative to controls."


(Image credit: Matteo Di Iorio (Unsplash))

The researchers found after 20 minutes of meditation, the strength of the signal increased. It made the meditators more sensitive to error positivity signals, helping them to be aware of mistakes they might be making. In turn, this helps regular meditators to avoid such mistakes in future.

Co-author Jason Moser said: "These findings are a strong demonstration of what just 20 minutes of meditation can do to enhance the brain's ability to detect and pay attention to mistakes. It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might really be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment."

How to meditate

Plenty of aids exist to help you get in the meditating mood, such as the best diffusers for essential oils and apps such as Headspace and Calm. Free guided meditations are also available on YouTube. 

However, you can meditate with zero equipment at all: all you need is a quiet spot and a cushion. To start reducing mistakes in your own life, simply sit on the cushion with you back straight, or on a chair if that's more comfortable, and pay close attention to your breathing. 

Watch and follow a 20-minute guided meditation here:

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.