Monday, December 12, 2022

Mindfulness: Memory

Another translation of the word sati is memory. There are times when paying too much attention or overthinking can actually be detrimental. In fact, a recent study has found that a mindful state can be detrimental to certain kinds of learning.

When you learn to ride a bicycle, for example, you pay less attention to the process of yourself pedaling. Instead, much of the learning occurs subconsciously in what is known as muscle memory. Muscle memory is one example of a special kind of memory called implicit memory. This type of memory occurs through practice. Musicians who read music at a certain point in practice no longer consciously think about what the squiggles on the page actually mean. In fact, reading in general relies primarily on implicit memory. If you tried to be really mindful of what you were reading by focusing on the shape of each letter or the makeup of each sentence, you would likely miss the overall meaning of a written passage.

Mindfulness is helpful in tasks that make use of another kind of memory called explicit memory. This type of memory is helpful in learning new things and in memorization. However, when you wish to develop a habit, the combination of mindfulness when you consciously will yourself to do or notice something and then scale back your awareness as you allow the new task to be taken up in your unconscious mind through implicit memory, is the ideal way to go.  

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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