What Happens To Your Brain When You Meditate


Evolutionary psychologist Robert Wright explains what happens inside your brain when you sit to meditate and how it can change your perception of the outside world. Wright is the author of "Why Buddhism is True."

Robert Wright: In real mindfulness meditation, calm isn’t the only object of the game. I mean, it's good. Calm is better than not calm by and large. but the point of having a calm mind is then you can start examining other things that are going on.

You just get a finer view of things and you often see beauty in things you wouldn’t have seen it in.

Now when you turn your attention to what's inside your mind, that's when things can get more therapeutic, in a way. Because one thing you can look as problematic feelings. You’ll feel a feeling surface and the fact that your mind is calm will let you examine the feeling rather than get carried away by it.

So like a feeling of anxiety that might have triggered just a train of unpleasant thoughts and like disaster scenarios won't do that because you're not blindly following it. Instead, you're observing it. And that is the way you handle things inside your head, in general in mindfulness meditation. Thoughts, feelings, etc. Doesn't mean the feelings go away necessarily but it does give you the option of changing your relationship to the unpleasant feelings in ways that not only take some of the unpleasantness out of them but gives you an actual clearer view of the world.

Because face it, anxiety very often gets you to come up with thoughts that are kind of semi-crazy. You know, you're just exaggerating the chances that things will go wrong, you're imagining people are thinking about you, thinking unpleasant things about you. When in fact they just don't care about you that much, they’re probably not thinking about you at all. So it can be very clarifying exercise and is that’s the whole premise of Buddhism. Is that we don't by nature see the world clearly and so meditation is one of the disciplines in Buddhism that helps you see things more clearly.

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