Meditation Changes Your Brain for the Better, Even if You’re Not a Monk | Wendy Suzuki


Wendy Suzuki: We know a lot about or are growing
our knowledge about the effects of meditation, long-term meditation in people like monks
that meditate for 50,000 hours in their lifetime. And we know that this completely changes the
electrophysiological responses of their brains. They have much higher levels of what we call
gamma waves, which is a particular frequency of wave. Not only that but even their resting
baseline — even when they’re not meditating they’re brainwaves are more like meditation,
the meditation kind of brainwaves than novice people that don’t have any experience meditating.
So it really changes both the baseline level of physiological activity as well as the response
when you’re asked to actually meditate. There are kind of two categories of studies
that have been done on meditation. One on these lifelong meditators, the monks, and
the other category of studies on people like you and me that started out with no meditation
experience and started to meditate. And those perhaps are more relevant studies for most
people. And those studies have shown significant improvements in attention functions with increased
exercise. And also actual anatomical changes in the brain with perhaps a little bit more
experience with meditation, maybe five years of meditation experience increased the size
of white matter bundles in the prefrontal cortex. So there are, you know, substantial,
physiological, anatomical changes that have been shown with meditation and there’s also
effects on depressive symptoms. So decreases of depressive symptoms, decreases in stress
symptoms. So meditation is doing lots of positive things. And some very, very similar to exercise
and some slightly different. So I think there’s definitely going to be a difference, but there’s
overlapping positive functions that exercise and meditation have on your general brain
health. How do you get to be a regular meditator and
the answer is, I think, start very, very small. I know, for myself, I have a subchapter in
my book called Confessions of a Yo-yo Meditator because I think I have tried all different
kinds of meditation. And my big mistake early on was to try and meditate for too long at
a sitting. So I would try to meditate for 20-25 minutes with no meditation experience.
And it was a disaster. I forced myself to do it for 30 days thinking that that would
be it and I would form my habit. And day 31 I took a little break and I never came back.
But then when I came back again starting very, very small with things that, you know, I could
just do on my own — just breathing meditation. Focusing on the breath. Something that we
all do at the end of yoga classes. That’s what really kind of helped me build my muscle.
And I just had to stick with that very short meditation and build it up that way. And I
think people too often either start too long or don’t stick with it enough. But again,
shorter is better and I think that’s a key for people that want to start to meditate.


100 Responses

  1. Mr. Cherry

    June 27, 2015 5:06 pm

    I've been meditating since seven years. The results are fascinating. My abilities are extraordinary now.

  2. reetismatic

    June 27, 2015 5:18 pm

    I have dabbled a bit in meditation. I came to realize that I have been doing a type of meditation on my own since childhood. I suppose I just had an affinity for it.

    One really interesting thing I have discovered is that I am capable of hearing spoken English (my native language) while simultaneously completely bypassing or subverting the associations with those words. This has allowed me to hear what English sounds like to people who don't speak it, i.e., how Cantonese would sound to someone who only speaks English. This is quite an experience.

    I can attest to the benefits of meditation. It is like the most broadened view of introspection, resulting in a humble demeanor that allows you to question even the most basic components of understanding and preconceptions. Due to this unique perspective, reasonableness, tolerance and open-mindedness were my resulting traits throughout the years.

  3. C Henrique

    June 27, 2015 7:01 pm

    What the heck 11 people disliked this such interesting and educational video? Is there meditationphobics around? Why is that?

  4. Alex Trusk

    June 27, 2015 7:11 pm

    i just had to firefox tabs open this one with the video paused and the other a Alltime10 video called could you have sex until you exploded also paused.  I resumed playing this on the bit near the end when she said "shorter is better"….LOL!

  5. Digital Mobile Posts

    June 27, 2015 7:20 pm

    I am finding meditative practices a way to shut off chatter that does not matter. Crochet and sketching work really well for me,  However I am working on the happy light when my eyes are shut.  Its fleeting but at least its coming back..For people who have to work at a desk, buy some sunglasses, put your hands on the keyboard and pretend you are typing while you meditate.

  6. Ra Coon

    June 27, 2015 7:32 pm

    Actually, I've meditated quite a lot and I feel like the changes that I associate with it are not only positive. I am a lot calmer now, but you don't always want to be balanced. I hardly ever get very sad or very happy about anything anymore. It even goes so far that I feel disconnected from my own life and my own experiences. I wonder if I would feel different if I had never meditated.

  7. Hoki

    June 27, 2015 7:34 pm

    hmm…if somebody would mediate for 50000 hours in lifetime… wouldn't they be like 2000 years old?

  8. Interioroutbreak69

    June 27, 2015 9:06 pm

    I read a quote from some random user on some random movie website about how people assume everything "western" is superior, however, east Asians seem to be more advanced when it comes to mental health, and I've been wondering whether there was some truth to that.

  9. lightsidemaster

    June 27, 2015 9:17 pm

    Are there any experienced "meditators" in the comments here?

    If yes how long do you meditate per day?

    Do you think 20 minutes/ 30 minutes a day is enough?

  10. Jonathan Fu

    June 27, 2015 10:44 pm

    Is it possible to make an artificial magnetic field for earth? CAUSE EARTH IS GONNA BE A COMPLETE DEAD LAND WITHOUT A MAGNETIC FIELD!! We might die! 😩

  11. Being Brilliant Every Day

    June 27, 2015 10:47 pm

    Meditation is the only researched method confirmed to accelerate vertical development at present. It has other benefits as mentioned in this video.

  12. Roedy Green

    June 28, 2015 2:05 am

    Why would meditation be any different from napping?
    It is in ENORMOUS investment in time. The benefits sound barely noticeable. Why is anyone bothering?

  13. 45von

    June 28, 2015 2:48 am

    But even with all this meditation the monks have no better concept of life, death or any other philosophy… The do Not live longer, do not live better, and likely are no better for the Years of effort. So What is the demonstrable advantage you are suggesting.??

  14. Your Favorite Troll

    June 28, 2015 4:13 am

    But what is the implications? what can you do "better" when having more white matter in your prefrontal cortex?

  15. Justin Case

    June 28, 2015 5:45 am

    Is meditation basically just introspection?
    If so, I find it horrifying that the practice is considered so novel. Do some people really never contemplate their thoughts, actions, and habits?

    By the way, there is nothing mystical about the beneficial effects of meditation. One's mental state has effects on the body and vice versa. I thought that was common knowledge.

  16. Becoming Alpha

    June 28, 2015 7:05 am

    I hate it when my ego tells me not to bother meditating at all. I have to force myself every single day, but now it is a little easier 🙂

  17. Faceless

    June 28, 2015 9:55 am

    (visit my channel and if you like the content subscribe) well I don't actually believe 100% on that but let's listen to the woman talking.. Well I guess that meditation is kind of…uhm..oh found's like a stretchin' for the brain…well, maybe kinda..

  18. Brett

    June 28, 2015 10:59 pm

    Meditation is absolutely essential to my well being. I meditate every day for 15-20 minutes and I view it as MORE important for my overall health than even exercise and a healthy diet.

    Its also a great way for secularists, agnostics and atheists to come into contact with the religious experience without having to adhere to any absurd metaphysical claims or theistic dogma.

  19. cybersekkin

    June 29, 2015 3:59 am

    Is it too much to ask for links to the studies that show this? A little too often heard claims only to find the studies use small sample sizes or are based on self selected data sets.

  20. Chuichupachichi

    June 29, 2015 11:40 am

    I am willing to take her word for it that validly conclusive measurement of the increased size of white matter bundles in the prefrontal cortex has been achieved. However, completely lacking are any words explaining the effects, if any, from the increased size of such matter in the prefrontal cortex

    Dr. Suzuki doesn't explicitly state that the physiological change does, indeed, have a positive, desirable effect. But rather, the desirability or positive value of the white matter growth is merely implied

    Of course, there would still remain the necessity for the explanation of precisely what are the beneficial effects of the physiological change and by what process would that be discoverable in an evidentially conclusive manner

  21. Backtobassics500

    July 3, 2015 4:47 am

    Did the studies look at people who don't believe meditation works too? It seems like meditation is a mind game really. Fool the mind and you can accomplish so much more in your life.

  22. Andrewsarcus

    July 3, 2015 11:21 am

    I use meditation recordings with binaural beats as the stimulus to alter the brain.
    You can relax and let the recording enable the process to occur.  I find the Holosync
    is an easier way to start than the traditional methods. When I first got interested in Meditation in the 70s I heard about SUBUD, so I first went to Subud practice.  I found that a much more effective start.  Now I just relax and it happens at any time I want.

  23. FNA

    July 5, 2015 8:25 pm

    Goodbye, Big Think. You were an awesome experiment for a while! But I think it's beyond time I admit that's over now.

  24. valar

    July 6, 2015 6:23 pm

    The good news is that there is a large movement now called 'consciousness hacking' which is designed to find ways to being technology onto the spiritual path, to help us achieve the same results that full-time meditators get much more quickly and easily. They have leads made some promising findings. Before anyone gets weirded out, remember that meditation itself is a technology, and an old one that hasn't really evolved with the times.

  25. Trackman2007

    July 26, 2015 8:29 pm

    This is what i need. It is great that brain can change itself! Now the hardest part is to commit yourself and have a discipline to such a lifestyle for the rest of your life. I'm sure, if you decide to meditate, then do it ALL YOUR LIFE, no matter what.

    Btw for everybody, i noticed that if i decide to do something, i can do it for a very long time in a very disciplined way, without ANY excuses. One of the examples is that i run several years already and do it every other day, like a Swiss watch. I believe this is because i always ask myself – are there any other options? And i KNOW that really there are no BETTER alternatives, so this is why i do it no matter what, because my answer is always NO. Of course you can skip to run, but will it lead you to a better version of you and healthy life? No. So even if i don't always want to do what's needed, i still do it no matter what, because i always ask that one question. I know that what i sow today, person (me) of tomorrow will reap. It helps me several years already and it always works. Hope it helps someone. Cheers!

  26. Gabriel Ayres

    September 5, 2015 5:12 am

    One friendly advice to the channel: instead of writing on the video "Wendy Suzuki, Author", try using "Dr. Wendy Suzuki, professor of neural science and psychology". This is a stronger argument to support what she says 😀

  27. renardo mooij

    November 30, 2015 10:04 am

    when you realise yourself you are that what your meditation on. There is no need for meditation any more. You are that silence etc.

  28. santam saha

    March 5, 2016 5:02 pm

    She said that white matter increases but not only that, grey matter also increases. That's important since grey matter is your processor and the white matter is the wiring between those processors. The increase of grey matter causes more compaction(since our cranial capacity is constant that's 1400cc). This compaction causes change in neutral density and change in brain structure.

  29. Nelson Castillo

    March 26, 2016 4:06 am

    Meditation together with the anchoring method, is great for relaxing when in stressful situations

  30. wallbreaker larry

    July 5, 2016 12:57 pm

    common people will use meditation for competition such as scoring higher grades, being more productive in work which in turn will lead to even more competition while the ultimate goal of meditation is cessation of desire

  31. Marvelous Whiskers

    July 29, 2016 3:04 am

    Is she being serious about taking up meditation slowly at the beginning? Because if she is, that would put some serious doubts in me about the benefits of meditation. If meditation was the "lost medicine" to brain and mental health, I would think the body will accept as much as you can get asap and bring you up to a better state quickly, just as if you were malnutritioned or dehydrated and were then fed the right substances, you would heal very soon. But if you only have to practice it slowly and considerately, then it doesn't strike me as something the body really needs, and more like just another skill to your list of abilities.

  32. Michael

    August 22, 2016 11:08 pm

    Another example of the "more, bigger, better, and faster" approach to doing meditation, or really anything.

  33. Elon Fucking Musk

    April 19, 2017 4:48 am

    I would say meditation is a good step but simple meditation will only get you so far. You need to progress with it. You can't just treat it the same as physical exercise by increasing the duration. I started meditation where I could go do it for 3 hours and it would feel like just 10 mins had passed. There are certain types of meditation you can perform for different activities and results but essentially you can do Kriyas which are powerful daily spiritual exercise which essentially promotes well being. You need to just adopt a style of kriya or meditation for like a few months to a year at least. Do it everyday not missing a single day and after a year or a few months ask yourself if you're more peaceful, joyful, or simple in a much better overall place than before. You will notice with some kriyas that they are so powerful they change your physical body. I do kriya which is only 20 mins a day which in includes like 10-12 mins of meditation but I've stopped all my medications and lost about 17 lbs in 2 months without any exercise or diet. If you really dedicate yourself to learn a few practices by the people who brought this meditation then you will really be amazed at what you've been missing out on.

  34. Maureen O’Connell

    September 8, 2017 10:54 am

    Meditation is quite simply mental hygiene: clear out the junk, tune your talents, and get in touch with yourself.

  35. Prime Captain

    November 17, 2017 2:00 pm

    Nice video content! Excuse me for the intrusion, I would appreciate your opinion. Have you heard about – Marnaavid Unexplainable Intervention (should be on google have a look)? It is a great one off product for learning how to hack your flow state without the normal expense. Ive heard some extraordinary things about it and my cousin after a lifetime of fighting got amazing results with it.

  36. danvil identity

    November 18, 2017 12:02 pm

    Great video content! Forgive me for chiming in, I would appreciate your opinion. Have you considered – Marnaavid Unexplainable Intervention (should be on google have a look)? It is a great one off product for learning how to hack your flow state minus the normal expense. Ive heard some super things about it and my friend at very last got excellent success with it.

  37. Sugar Cane

    January 13, 2018 3:23 am

    If monks were so goddamn great why haven't they changed their own countries mindsets that human rights need to change along with the problems of poverty and gov't corruption. It's easy …..all they do sit on their asses and speak bullshit.

  38. truereality84

    January 29, 2018 9:22 pm

    it is hard sometimes to dedicate each day to sit down and meditate, until you get into the habit of it, but do it anyway, just sit down and turn on a timer and do it, you will feel so much better and it will have long term benefits that are priceless.

  39. Maxim Petrov

    February 19, 2018 7:50 pm

    Lovely Video clip! Excuse me for butting in, I am interested in your thoughts. Have you researched – Marnaavid Unexplainable Intervention (Have a quick look on google cant remember the place now)? It is a great one off product for learning how to hack your flow state without the normal expense. Ive heard some amazing things about it and my mate finally got amazing success with it.

  40. Enzo Otto

    March 24, 2018 12:02 am

    I meditated lying down, fell asleep, and was late for a date, and drove around the city in road rage until I calmed down.

  41. rideforever

    April 6, 2018 5:40 pm

    WE KNOW … no you do not. In your false mind you have some ideas, but you are in no way connected to reality and the more you play inside your mind the fewer hours you have to cultivate yourself so that you survive death.
    This is not intelligence.
    You "comprehend" meditation by meditating.


    May 4, 2018 4:10 pm

    Imust admit , that i find the idea that meditation perminantly alters the structure & functions of your brain rather frightening! but , even so, it won't stop me doing it for 20 minutes every day.

  43. Harbajan Chadha-Boreham

    September 12, 2018 11:47 pm

    Mantra meditation (I have a few favorite ones) while doing not very engaging jobs (e.g. washing dishes, ironing, etc.) is a great way to stay in the present moment to enjoy the work and the result.


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