Mindfulness May Help You See The ‘Invisible Gorilla’
Most of us have experienced “inattentional blindness” at one time or another, even if we didn’t realize what was happening: when we are so focused on certain things in the environment, we are quite literally unable to notice the unexpected — even if it is happening right before our eyes — from road hazards while driving to something burning on the stove while cooking.
The phenomenon was famously spotlighted in the 1999 “invisible gorilla” experiment conducted by Harvard University psychologists Dr. Daniel Simons and Dr. Christopher Chabris. They showed students a video featuring a group of people passing a couple of basketballs, and asked them to count how many times the balls were tossed.
Try it for yourself by watching the video below:
Did you notice something odd? In the midst of the ball tossing, someone in a gorilla suit walked right across the frame. About half of the students who watched the video simply didn’t notice, because they were so focused on counting the tosses that they were “blind” to the gorilla.
In a new experiment, an international team of researchers has demonstrated that people who practice mindfulness — a psychological technique to focus your mind and maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment — are less likely to experience inattentional blindness.
“This could provide support for the idea that mindfulness helps people notice but not dwell on things in their environment,” Dr. Timothy Schofield, a research fellow at the Australian National University and lead author of the study, told The Huffington Post in an email.