Meditation is a popular way to relax our overworked minds. It involves focusing continuously on 1 thought, word (mantra), object, or mental image for a period of time. It can also involve focusing on your breathing or on sensations in your body. The goal of meditation is to quiet your mind, which may reduce stress and the connection it has to long-term diseases like heart disease.
Meditation is thought to suppress the part of the nervous system that increases heart rate, breathing rate, or blood pressure while enhancing the relaxing side of the nervous system.
There are many types of meditation, but here is some basic information that to help you get started.
Meditation is believed to help you achieve calmness, relaxation and psychological balance. These changes accompany deep relaxation and may include:
Researchers have studied relaxation therapies, including meditation, as a way to treat a number of conditions, such as:
There are many different types of meditation and no right technique for everybody. Find out what works best for you. Most types of meditation include the following basic elements:
Before engaging your mind, follow these guidelines to make your body comfortable:
In order to direct your thoughts, do the following:
At first, you may find it difficult to focus but like most things, meditation should become easier with regular practice. Experiment to find out what technique works best for you. Consider taking a meditation class where many different techniques are taught. Some have a spiritual focus and others are more focused on stress reduction. Talk to the instructor about your goals and preferences to understand if the class may be right for you. With a little practice you'll be on your way to a more peaceful existence.
Mental Health America
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Public Health Agency of Canada
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Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 1, 2016. Accessed July 19, 2016.
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Hypertension alternative treatments. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 1, 2016. Accessed July 19, 2016.
Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 21, 2016. Accessed July 19, 2016.
Meditation: An introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) website. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm. Updated April 2016. Accessed July 19, 2016.
Relaxation therapies. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated July 2012. Accessed July 19, 2016.
Last reviewed July 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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