People come to meditation for different reasons. Some are interested because of meditation’s calming effects; some are looking to gain understanding about how the mind functions; and some have heard that meditation can improve brain power. So what does meditation do to the brain? The brain is a phenomenally complex organ, but certain aspects of how the brain goes about its business are pretty straightforward and can give insight to how meditation changes the brain. We know that meditation does affect the brain by effectively rewiring it so that old, unhelpful patterns can actually be replaced by new, helpful ones.
What mindfulness meditation in particular does to the brain is create a habit of presence, attention, and focus, as recent scientific studies confirm. Meditation in general has been shown to actually beef up parts of the brain connected to happiness and shrink parts of the brain connected to stress and repetitive unpleasant emotions. It has also been found to increase feelings of kindness and empathy. This—in a tiny nutshell—is how meditation changes your brain—and your life.
To learn about the various types of meditation and how they affect your brain, we recommend our free ebook: Getting the Most out of Meditation.