Just 15 Minutes a Day to Fewer Mistakes

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

March 7, 2022

It’s odd how the mind works.

Maybe you’re in the grocery store and pick up some garlic stuffed olives. You get home, and a couple of days later you open them up. Your salivary glands are dripping in anticipation of that garlicky flavor as you place one in your mouth.

You chomp down, and your taste buds are shocked!

It turns out you accidentally picked up olives that were stuffed with blue cheese. When you look at the label, you realize that the label is a different color than usual. And it clearly states “Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives.” But you never even noticed these details when you plucked them off the shelf.

This kind of stuff happens to all of us. We make mistakes. Some of them are as harmless as picking up the wrong olives. Others can be serious – like putting the wrong medication in your pill box.

These are things we all want to avoid. And while there’s no sure-fire way to stop ourselves from making errors altogether, there may be a way to reduce their frequency.

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It’s something called mindfulness meditation. The goal of this type of meditation is to center you in the moment… in the here and now. To keep you zeroed in on the present.

Mindfulness meditation is great for relieving stress, anxiety and depression. It works to reduce pain and fatigue. It appears that it might even help lower inflammation, improve immunity and slow down biological aging.

And it turns out that mindfulness meditation has another thing going for it.

A study published in the journal Brain Sciences discovered that after people meditated just a single time – and then took a test – certain neural signals in the brain occurred about a half a second after they made a mistake on the test. So their brains were immediately alerted to the error!

Other results back this up, showing that the brains of mindful people recognize incorrect responses before a person is even aware of it.

Immerse Yourself

A few months ago I introduced you to something called “sound bathing,” a form of meditation that uses things like singing bowls, chimes, tuning forks, rattles, bells and the voice to keep you focused and centered.

With mindfulness meditation, your breathing is often used to center you. It’s easy enough to give it a try with this simple exercise:

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Sit down in a calm and comfortable spot. You can choose any position you want. Just make sure you can stay in it for a while.

Slowly and deeply breathe in, breathe out. Focus on the sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. That’s the only thing you want to think about.

If you’ve never tried this before, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you forget to focus on your breathing. Whenever you notice your attention starting to wander, just reign it in and return your attention to breathing.

Remain in this state for 15 to 20 minutes, then allow your attention to return to your immediate surroundings

That’s it! It sounds simple enough. And it is – once you learn to keep your mind from wandering. That’s the hard part.

Not everyone has the time, or the patience, to spend 15-20 minutes meditating a couple of times a day. So I have a special tip for you.

Save Time with 4-7-8 Breathing

There is a quick and easy form of mindful breathing called 4-7-8 breathing.

Just slowly inhale through your nose for a count of four, and hold it for a count of seven. Then exhale through pursed, rounded lips for a count of eight. Do this for about five minutes in the morning or shortly after awakening when your cortisol is surging.

I also recommend doing it again in the afternoon around one and then again around 4pm (when natural cortisol surges happen) – or whenever you feel particularly stressed.

It just gives you a reset for a short period. It helps your blood flow and metabolic stress on the brain – so you can think clearer. So it should work similar to mindfulness meditation to increase attention and error signaling in your brain.


Khoury B, Lecomte T, Fortin G, Masse M, Therien P, Bouchard V, Chapleau MA, Paquin K, Hofmann SG. Mindfulness-based therapy: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Rev. 2013 Aug;33(6):763-71.

Davis MC, Zautra AJ, Wolf LD, Tennen H, Yeung EW. Mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral interventions for chronic pain: differential effects on daily pain reactivity and stress reactivity. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2015 Feb;83(1):24-35.

Black DS, Slavich GM. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Jun;1373(1):13-24.

Lin Y, Eckerle WD, Peng LW, Moser JS. On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring. Brain Sci. 2019;9(9):226.

Eichel, K., Stahl, J. The Role of Mindfulness and Emotional Stability in Error Detection. Mindfulness. 2017;8:311–324.

Levinson DB, Stoll EL, Kindy SD, Merry HL, Davidson RJ. A mind you can count on: validating breath counting as a behavioral measure of mindfulness. Front Psychol. 2014;5:1202.