Understanding how meditation changes the brain
Source: Psychology Today
Meditation has been linked to many life improvements (including clarity, calmness, and reduced anxiety), and these improvements are linked to specific changes in the brain. First, people who meditate regularly experience a breakdown between the sections of their brain that create bodily sensations of fear, anxiety, or the presence of a problem.
As that connection breaks down, practitioners are able to ignore those feelings of anxiety, and to let go of the notion that something is wrong with them or that they are the problem. This helps explain why meditation reduces anxiety.
Additionally, meditation produces a stronger connection in the brain between the lateral prefrontal cortex and the bodily fear centers, so that when a practitioner experiences something potentially dangerous or upsetting, he or she can approach it more rationally, instead of having an automatic and self-centered reaction.
Finally, meditation strengthens connections between the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the bodily sensation center, which enhances the practitioners' ability to empathize, to infer other people's state of mind, and to put themselves in other people's shoes.
To maintain these benefits, daily practice is important because due to the brain's neuroplasticity, the brain can revert back to old behaviors fairly quickly.