The Remarkable Brains of Long-Term Meditators

Researchers suggest that people with an advanced meditation practice might operate at a different level of awareness — and it shows in their brainwaves.

As science begins to dig into the long-term impacts meditation has on the brain, researchers are turning to the minds “Olympic-level” meditators for answers—people who have done up to 62,000 hours of meditation in their lifetime. 

Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman says the brainwaves of long-term meditators may look a lot different than the rest of ours.

Inside the mind of long-term meditators

In this video from BigThink, Goleman describes how neuroscientist Richard Davidson, his co-author on the book Altered Traits, measured the brainwaves of advanced meditators. Davidson found their brainwaves showed never-before-seen levels of gamma, one of the strongest types of brain waves,  theorized to appear when the different regions of the brain harmonize. 

“We get [gamma] when we bite into an apple or imagine biting into an apple,” explains Goleman, “and for a brief period, a split second, inputs from taste, sound, smell, vision, all of that comes together in that imaged bite into the apple.”

The typical person will have a gamma wave very briefly, for example when we’ve solved a problem we’ve been grappling with, and for a second all of our sensory inputs come together in harmony. The brainwaves of long-term meditators,…