Cognitive Brain Therapy | Benefits of Meditation on the Brain

Meditation Alters Cognitive Brain Function/
Benefits of Meditation on the Brain

The most universal forms of meditation evolved from the spiritual cultures of Hinduism and Buddhism which can be traced to around  1500 BCE.   Over the course of time, meditation practices and techniques have been interpreted by the cultures in which they were introduced.

There exists a great diversity of technique but the results of meaningful meditation, in every form, maintain a common denominator.

The advancement of medicine has allowed researchers to study the benefits of meditation in the brain as never before, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly evident that meditation can actually alter brain function and structure.   The modern world has resulted in the production of the most highly sophisticated medical equipment, allowing researchers more access to functions of the human body than was ever expected a few decades ago.

In conjunction with skilled masters of medicine, engineering and computer technology, the knowledgeable teams of physicians and other medical professionals who have dedicated themselves to how meditation affects the brain, the answers are more reliable than ever.

In fact, meditation has been scientifically proven to be so effective that it would not be a misnomer if it were known as Cognitive Brain Therapy.

Different Techniques Influence Different Brain Function

Different cognitive brain functions are involved when comparing the meditative states influenced by Hinduism (loss of sense of self/duality) with Buddhism (mindfulness).  Each practice activates different brain networks.

Involvement of the Senses  – How Many Senses do Humans Have

To help us relate to how meditation can possibly promote physical changes to brain structure, it is relevant to understand the involvement of the senses.   While there are probably many who have studied the body, most of us interpret the senses as the commonly referred to “Five Senses.”

However, one definition of “sense”:
Brain and the 5 Senses

Any system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.

The senses can be divided into exteroceptive and interoceptive:

  • Exteroceptive senses perceive the body’s own position, motion, and state, known as proprioceptive senses.
  • Proprioceptive senses include nociception (pain); equilibrioception (balance); proprioception (awareness of position and movement of parts of one’s own body).
  • External senses include the traditional five: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste, but also includes asthermoception (temperature differences) and an additional weak magnetoception (direction).

Interoceptive senses are senses that perceive sensations in internal organs.

When you’re mindful and paying attention to breathing, sounds and the present moment, cognition is slowed down which enhances the senses.

With this extended definition of the “senses,” and the following explanation of the differences in the cultural influences on meditation:

Buddhist Influence – Mindfulness is achieved through focused attention on the body, breathing and control of thought.

Hindu Influence –  The goal is to reach a state of nothingness, resulting in a loss of sense of self and duality (the mind and body acting as one). 

I, for one, was in a better position to accept what the research revealed.

Evidence – Affected Brain Structures

The brain network related to Buddhist-influenced meditation stimulates activity in part of the frontal lobe structures of the brain.  The frontal lobe structures are associated with the working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control (coordinating with each other).  This confirms that the essential element of “mindfulness” based meditation is neuro-biologically effective.

Hindu-inspired meditation triggers a left lateral network of areas of the brain, including the postcentral gyrus, the superior parietal lobe, the hippocampus and the right middle cingulate cortex.

Separating the anterior (front) and posterior (back) networks of the brain scientifically establishes that various meditation styles are linked to different patterns of neural activation networks. This simply means that neurons in the brain will process information based on external sources (meditation techniques) and the front and back of the brain are affected differently.


MRI brain changes after meditation

Long-term meditation increases brain gray matter in the following regions and these changes are evident within eight weeks of daily meditation.

  • insula
  • sensory regions
  • sensory and auditory cortex

Sara Lazar, PhD (who began her studies on the effects of meditation after using Yoga as physical therapy from a marathon training injury) explains:

Meditation literally changes brain structure.


Like this post? This is how I learned to do it.


Introduction to Healing with Meditation

Prehistoric Roots


Meditation has been practiced since as early as 1500 BC.   If you are curious about the origins and evolution of meditation and how it relates to modern techniques and teachings, the source material is voluminous.

Each method of meditation has its own ancestry.  Each form or technique has developed over 4500 years of cultural and religious influence.

For people like myself who had heard of  meditation and yoga but never learned much, or, technically for beginners, “Meditation” is a catch-all term encompassing forms of self-discipline techniques designed to gain insight into love through self-knowledge and the human connection to the spirit realm by knowing one’s own mind and heart.

As human beings we are eternal spirits with a soul (our mind, will and emotions) and we live in a body. It is the conscious and subconscious mind that bridges the spirit and the body  uniting them in the physical realm and where we can receive conscious revelation of the truth of our beliefs.

More than Mind-Over-Matter

Diet, exercise and proper nutrition regimens nurture the physical body.   It is equally important to nurture to our mind and spirits.  The mere nature of our society promotes stress and anxiety which lead to chronic diseases that decrease the quality of life and increase mortality.  One of the first symptoms of excessive stress is insomnia.  Sleep is one of the most critical needs of the human body because it helps us to maintain brain function. Scientific research and clinical trials support that including periods of meditation and relaxation into our daily schedule will assist with relieving stress and allow us to maintain control over the anxiety that can lead to a complex imbalance of mental, physical and spiritual health.

If we believe what the research suggests, meditation techniques should be as familiar to us as going to bed every night.

MFHL is here to assist everyone who wants motivation to develop a lifestyle of mindfulness through meditation, generating harmony and balance with the spirit, soul and body.

Educate Yourself

While medical advice and seeking medical treatment when it is needed are absolutely necessary, it is equally important that you be educated, informed and take an active participation in treatment decisions affecting your physical and mental health.Yoga Book

Meditation for Healthy Living will offer insight from available sources (and there are many) on how the various techniques and methods of meditation can be easily learned, taught and incorporated into your lifestyle to aid in maintaining the highest quality of health.  We have watched some people realize that they are passionate about meditation, sought training and education and are now teaching and leading others.

Mental and Physical Conditions

For over 70 years medical/scientific research has been conducted by various research facilities, including the Harvard Medical School’s diverse research departments and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, under the National Institutes of Health (a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services).

Below is a list of the physical and mental health conditions studied at length:

Fibromyalgia/Lupus and OTHER Immune Disorders

All forms of meditation and hypnosis have been proven effective with allowing us control over our thought processes and beliefs:



Meditation includes our immediate environment and surroundings.  Teachers of mediation suggest that it take place in a natural environment.

By educating ourselves and experimenting with a variety of techniques we discover the the methods that provide the best benefit.  You will discover your own preferences and may even surprise yourself with what works best for you.  For those who are limited in physical activity it is possible to obtain the same benefits while comfortably sitting or lying down.  One goal should be to designate a room or space in your home that is inviting to meditate.

Curriculum and Meditation Aids

Psychologists, therapists and other trained professionals have compiled specific technique curriculum, webinars, books, affirmation guides, recorded guided meditation and hypnosis sessions on every topic, as well as meditation music and other mood enhancers such as essential oils and incense.  We have selected our favorite items and included them in our All Things Meditation Store.  We believe you will appreciate the diversity.  Check back frequently because we will continue to add interesting and useful items with touches of nostalgia.

If you are looking for something specific please contact me through our Contact Form and we can use our resources to locate anything you are interested in, or make suggestions and recommendations.

Not a Substitute for Medical AdviceMedical Conditions

The information and techniques discussed throughout this website are not a substitute for medical advice, nor should it be interpreted as such.  It is imperative that you consult with your medical providers before making any decisions concerning participation in meditation or other relaxation or hypnosis techniques.  We encourage you to talk with your physician about how meditation can enhance your quality of life.

Physical illness and mental health disease processes vary and must be monitored by mental health professionals.

Interestingly, results of scientific studies are published in medical journals around the world involving 70 years of research that support the health benefits of practicing meditation and relaxation on a regular basis.  It has been confirmed time and time again that meditation does influence healing of the mind and body.  Additional clinical trials continue to take place based on results of previous findings, with plans for future studies.

Have you decided which technique you want to try next?  The menu bar above this blog can give you a few ideas.  Look around and comment below with your own experiences.