What Our Brains Do During Meditation



333-big


By Gabrielle White


Ever wondered what happens in your brain during meditation?

Neuroscientist Richard Davidson and colleagues scanned the brains of 8 buddhist monks who altered between a “neutral” state of mind and a meditative state. Many traditional forms of meditation involve focusing on fostering a sense of compassion toward others and the larger world, usually known as loving-kindness meditation.

The kinds of brainwaves that appeared during the monks’ meditation, including loving-kindness meditation, were “high-amplitude gamma-oscillations in the brain,” the same kind of waves associated with neuroplasticity, or a state of learning. This suggests that the brain is actively re-organizing neural networks or generating new neurons as you meditate.

The regions of the brain seen to activate during meditation are actually some of the older regions, which are associated with our so-called primal instincts, as well as some bodily functions. This might explain why some studies have found improved immune responses in meditators.

Most religious and spiritual practices invoke some form of meditation such as prayer or reflection, as well as a call for compassion toward others, such as taking care of the poor. If these aren’t inherently good practices, scientists can begin to confirm some of the ways they benefit our health, both mentally and physically. Whether you’re a meditation newbie or a long-time practitioner, taking time to reflect and foster a sense of compassion probably stands to offer some benefits to your wellbeing. 

writer photo

Gabrielle White

Gabby is a Contributing Editor at Mend. Her ultimate heartbreak cure is a repeat cycle of rooibos tea, puppy snuggles, and salted dark chocolate.

Instagram

Wow, thanks!

We know your inbox is busy, so we feel honored that you'd like to include us in your email life. Here's what to expect: a weekly update from our founder Ellen, with the latest posts and sneak previews of upcoming launches. Oh, and don't forget to follow us on Instagram: @letsmend and Snapchat: lets.mend.

If you're a Gmail subscriber, sometimes our emails end up in the Promotions tab of your inbox. If you want our newsletters to show in your Primary tab, just drag and drop one of our newsletters in there.

See you soon!

×