We think that meditation works by changing the neural circuits in the brain. Whenever we put our attention on something, it becomes more prominent in our lives. So if all day long someone is thinking about their pain – their pain, their pain – then that becomes their life.
When people learn meditation, they learn how to shift their thought processes. They go from focusing on one thing to consciously distracting themselves, thinking about other things, shifting their attention and intention.
When people meditate, MRI scans show that different parts of the brain light up. The parts of the brain that are involved with pain become less active. So on a physiological level, we know that our attention influences what parts of the brain dominate our awareness.
David Simon, M.D., is a board-certified neurologist and ayurvedic practioner; co-founder, CEO, and Medical Director of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing; and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Neurosciences at The University of California. Dr. Simon has authored popular wellness books including his newest book, Free to Love, Free to Heal: Heal Your Body by Healing Your Emotions and Grow Younger, Live Longer: 10 Steps to Reverse Aging (co-authored with Deepak Chopra, M.D.). Dr. Simon is a keynote speaker for the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, California Medical Association, Harvard Medical School, and other prestigious institutions.