When your mind stops its obsessive churning and begins to slow down, your attention turns from your endless to-do list toward the rhythm of your breath, and you feel more peaceful than you did before.
For many of us, accessing that settled, contented state is difficult to do in meditation. It’s not easy to watch the mind reveal its worries, its self-criticism, or its old memories. Meditation requires patience and—even more challenging for most Westerners—time. So, why would you put yourself through the struggle?
Quite simply, meditation can profoundly alter your experience of life.
The current findings are exciting enough to encourage even the most resistant of us to sit down on the cushion: They suggest that meditation—even in small doses—can profoundly influence your experience of the world by remodeling the physical structure of your brain.
Over the past decade, researchers have found that if you practice focusing attention on your breath, the brain will restructure itself to make concentration easier. If you practice calm acceptance during meditation, you will develop a brain that is more resilient to stress. And if you meditate while cultivating feelings of love and compassion, your brain will develop in such a way that you spontaneously feel more connected to others.