Meditation and the Brain

Mindworks | Mindfulness Meditation Blog | Meditation and the Brain

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.

How Meditation Changes the Brain

2022-04-15T20:50:28-07:00By |

Did you know that simply sitting and breathing mindfully can significantly change the brain? It’s true! Meditation Nurtures the Brain We’ve all heard that meditation leads to greater mental clarity, lower levels of stress and reduced anxiety. But how does meditation benefit the brain? Studies have shown that mindfulness practice brings about positive physiological changes [...]

What Happens to Your Mind, Brain and Body During Meditation?

2022-07-24T11:10:46-07:00By |

Your brain is an unimaginably complex electrochemical organ. There’s always a certain level of electric activity going on there regardless of whether you are sleeping or mentally alert, engaged in activities or engrossed in meditation. Scientists have been trying to determine exactly what the effects of meditation are on the mind and body. So [...]

Physical health and the mind-body connection

2022-09-25T01:40:18-07:00By |

What is the mind-body connection? The term “mind-body connection” refers to the understanding that our physical health involves more than just the body. Mind is what connects us and our physical body to the rest of the world. Mind connects us to our thoughts, attitudes, and emotions, as well as to our actions and [...]

Mindfulness and Healing

2022-08-14T20:12:23-07:00By |

The importance of mindfulness to self-regulate and build resilience As a physician who practices mind-body medicine, I truly believe that mindfulness is the most powerful tool that I have. I share it with my patients so that they have access to this tool as well. Mindfulness is more powerful than any drug, surgery, or other [...]

Meditation and Physical Pain

2022-04-30T19:42:04-07:00By |

Physical Pain vs Suffering (optional!) - What are the key differences? By using physical pain as an object of meditation we can transform our relationship to pain and in doing so, free ourselves from the suffering it causes. Whether you’re dealing with chronic pain or any bodily pain that arises during meditation, staying present and [...]

Meditation and the Autonomic Nervous System

2022-06-12T19:02:08-07:00By |

About Your Nervous System: Calming Your Nerves & Heart with Meditation You might have heard meditation can heal your central nervous system, but what does that mean and how does it work? Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect. But it’s balance, not calm, that’s the true signifier of nervous system [...]

6 Simple Relaxation Techniques for Stress

2022-07-03T20:26:35-07:00By |

6 Simple Stress Management Techniques When we experience stress, it triggers a sympathetic nervous system response. Heart rate, breathing and vigilance all speed up. Once activated, it’s not always easy to let go of this hyper-alert state. Stress management techniques can teach the body to return to balance more quickly. Learning how to calm an [...]

Simple Yogic Breathing Techniques for Stress Relief

2022-09-04T19:29:30-07:00By |

Breathe Deeply: Why Deep Breathing Helps to Calm Your Stress When stressed, our breath gets short and shallow, a sign that fight or flight mode (the sympathetic nervous system) has kicked in. Deep, focused breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing anxiety and inducing calm. You can learn simple yogic breathing techniques for stress relief. [...]

Physical Pain, Emotions, and the Brain

2022-04-18T17:23:24-07:00By |

The mind-body connection is a two-way street The concept of the psychosomatic, psychophysiologic, or mindbody process is often misunderstood. This is definitely not to say that the pain you’re experiencing or your problem is make-believe. We’re not saying that you’re creating your pain for some pernicious purpose, or that it has no physiologic basis. What [...]

Healing Trauma Through Meditation

2022-07-03T20:20:07-07:00By |

What Qualifies as Trauma, and How Does It Affect our Brain Structure? Meditation can help you heal from trauma and PTSD, but it’s not always the cure-all we want it to be. For some, meditation may appear to make trauma worse. Meditation brings conscious awareness to the activity in our mind, but we’re not always [...]

How Meditation Works to Stop Bad Habits

2022-04-24T07:15:14-07:00By |

Science points to how bad habits form, but mindfulness helps us break free Research shows almost half of what we do is habitual, and this makes sense. Habits save energy and resources. If we never developed habits, we’d be exhausted by breakfast. And yet we know from experience not all habits are beneficial. If you’re [...]

Can Meditation Help Lower My Heart Rate or Blood Pressure?

2022-07-03T20:22:36-07:00By |

Meditation can lower and regulate your heart rate and blood pressure The physiological effects of meditation include a reduction in stress hormones and adrenaline, improved breathing and blood flow to the brain, and improved melatonin regulation. Two more benefits, a reduced heart rate and lower blood pressure, have encouraged doctors to increasingly recommend meditation to [...]

The Benefits of Exercise, Meditation and Brain Health

2022-11-29T20:31:54-08:00By |

Upon first glance, exercise and meditation offer similar benefits. Both help improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and can lead to a calm, balanced state of mind. But exercise is not a replacement for meditation, nor is meditation a replacement for exercise. The two have distinct benefits that are equally important for maintaining general wellbeing. [...]

The Psychology of Addiction

2022-07-24T11:08:11-07:00By |

The intersection between modern trauma theory, addiction & mindfulness by Stephen Dansiger The problem of addiction is not just a problem for people struggling with addiction. It’s a problem of the ages, and at one point or another, just about every person involved with addiction—especially those in recovery—comes to a point where he or [...]

Meditation Research: What Does Science Tell Us About Meditation

2022-07-16T19:28:57-07:00By |

People have been practicing meditation for millennia. This ancient practice is as pertinent nowadays as it was centuries ago. Meditation helps us quiet our minds, connect with our inner qualities and foster wisdom and awareness. Among the many meditation methods that are commonly practiced, mindfulness and awareness are especially precious given today’s stressful, hectic [...]

ASMR in Meditation

2021-05-24T02:10:33-07:00By |

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Responses and Meditation Do you experience a pleasant tingling sensation (called ASMR) when someone whispers in your ear or gently massages your scalp? Does it send delicious shivers down your spine and help you relax? In recent years those relaxing tingles have become a “thing.” In 2010 they even got a name: [...]

How to Meditate for Better Concentration

2022-04-24T07:27:57-07:00By |

We lead extremely busy lives - more often than not we have to devote our attention to many different tasks simultaneously. Meditation is an antidote to this scatteredness: when we practice, we train the mind to be fully aware of one thing at a time. The result is that our ability to concentrate increases. [...]

Does Meditation Improve Memory?

2022-07-24T10:49:42-07:00By |

The benefits of meditation are far-reaching, and researchers have already identified a number of patently positive effects that meditation can have on the human brain. So naturally, many of us wonder if improved memory is one of those fringe benefits. And the answer is… YES! A number of studies carried out by neuroscientists have confirmed [...]

Seeing White Light During Meditation

2021-05-14T11:36:42-07:00By |

Meditation Experiences It’s not all that unusual for meditators to have an experience of light during their practice session. The experience may be along the lines of “I felt I was dissolving into an intensely bright white light,” or “I could really ‘see’ swirling lights even though my eyes were closed,” or “My mind was [...]

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