Effects of Meditation on the Brain

By Samira Soroory

The practice of meditation extends beyond relaxation and the typical yoga class. There are different types of meditation such as Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation that have received the most scientific attention. Meditation can be practiced on its own or as a part of yoga, t'ai chi and other practices. (Horowitz, 2010, p. 223). Other forms of meditation include body scanning, guided meditation, and deep breathing. Practicing meditation has the ability to benefit individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) through the association of neuroplasticity. Slight bursts of electrical activity can be detected during mental activity and thinking. Mental training through meditation can restructure the circuitry of the brain (Kaufman, 2005, p. 1). Individuals who have TBI range from athletes, veterans, those with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), domestic violence, and other related traumas. Practicing meditation allows the individual to heal and have a whole sense of self.

Transcendental and mindfulness meditation are the two most recognized forms of meditation. Transcendental meditation is the technique where the individual's mind is settled in a quiet space. A silent and/or peaceful level of awareness is occurring during this kind of meditation. Mindfulness meditation is also known as the Buddhist practice called Vipassana or Insight Meditation. Mindfulness meditation encourages the individual to pay attention to his or her experience with acceptance and compassion (What Happens When You Meditate, 2014).

Several studies have been done using samples of groups who have been practicing meditation for years as compared to new students to meditation. In one study, The Dalai Lama allowed eight of his practitioners to be a part of a lab study with ten student volunteers with no previous meditation experience. The Dalai Lama's practitioners practiced meditation for 10,000 to 50,000 hours. The individuals were hooked up for electroencephalography (EEG) testing and brain scanning. There was an unusually powerful gamma waves in the monks. They also found that the movement of the brain waves was more organized than in the students. The result was that those who spent the most years meditating were healthier than the average person (Kaufman, 2005, p. 2).

With adequate research, the practice of meditation will be able to help heal those with traumatic brain injuries. Individuals who experience traumatic brain injuries may also have life-changing results. At least half of all individuals with TBI experience chronic pain and sleep issues. Many individuals do not return to their previous occupations due to their severe injury. Others report a decline in their ability to remain independent in daily living activities. TBI is also associated with symptoms of depression, behavior problems, substance abuse, and other related disorders. A loss of "self" may also occur which can also be traumatizing to the individual (Bedard, 2005, p. 8). Mental training through meditation can restructure the circuitry of the brain (Kaufman, 2005, p. 1). Transcendental and mindfulness meditation will be useful in mental training.

With many studies on meditation it would be beneficial for research to be focused on traumatic brain injuries and how meditation helps ease pain in individuals. Meditation does not have to be done in a quiet space. One can meditate while doing an activity; this required the individual to focus on one thing without letting his or her mind wander. The practice of meditation is a practical way of decreasing pain, stress, and other health related issues.


1. Bedard, M., Felteau, M., Gibbons, C., Klein, R., Mazmanian, D., Fedyk, K., & Mack, G. (2005).

2. A mindfulness-based intervention to improve quality of life among individuals who sustained traumatic brain injuries: One-year follow-up. The Journal of Cognitive Rehabilitation, 23, 8-13.

3. Horowitz, S. (2010). Health benefits of meditation: What the newest research shows. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 16(4), 223-228.

4. Kaufman, M. (2005). Meditation gives brain a charge, study finds. Washington Post, 3. What happens when you meditate? (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2014, from http://www.tm.org/meditation-techniques