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Maria Konnikova Unlocks Sherlock’s Mindfulness

We’re very fortunate at Big Think to have so many great thinkers and writers in our midst, and the woman of the moment right now is Maria Konnikova, author of the Artful Choice blog who took a timeout to write the forthcoming book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmesdue out in January.

Steven Pinker calls Mastermind “a delightful tour of the science of memory, creativity, and reasoning, illustrated with the help of history’s most famous reasoner, Sherlock Holmes himself.”

Konnikova gives us a sneak preview in an op-ed in today’s New York Times, that we highly recommend.

Here’s a brief tease:

His approach to thought captures the very thing that cognitive psychologists mean when they say mindfulness.

Though the concept originates in ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese traditions, when it comes to experimental psychology, mindfulness is less about spirituality and more about concentration: the ability to quiet your mind, focus your attention on the present, and dismiss any distractions that come your way. The formulation dates from the work of the psychologist Ellen Langer, who demonstrated in the 1970s that mindful thought could lead to improvements on measures of cognitive function and even vital functions in older adults.

Now we’re learning that the benefits may reach further still, and be more attainable, than Professor Langer could have then imagined. Even in small doses, mindfulness can effect impressive changes in how we feel and think — and it does so at a basic neural level.

Read it here

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