Meditation is the practice of
focusing your attention to help you feel calm and give you a clear awareness
about your life. Eastern philosophies have recognized the health benefits of
meditation for thousands of years. Meditation is now widely practiced in the
West, with the belief that it has positive effects on health.
meditation techniques are most commonly used: concentrative and mindful.
Concentrative meditation, such as
transcendental meditation (TM), focuses on a single image, sound, or mantra
(words spoken or sung in a pattern), or on your own breathing.
Mindful meditation, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), does not
focus on a single purpose. Rather, you are aware of all thoughts, feelings,
sounds, or images that pass through your mind.
Meditation usually involves slow, regular breathing and
sitting quietly for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
What is meditation used for?
People use meditation
to help treat a wide range of physical and mental problems, including:
Addictive behaviors, such as drug, nicotine,
and alcohol use.
hot flashes, which are sensations of intense body heat
that affect women around the time of menopause.
Most of these conditions may also require conventional
treatment for best results.
People also use meditation to relieve
anxieties from long-term (chronic) conditions such as
HIV and cancer.
Is meditation safe?
Since meditation usually
involves sitting quietly for a period of time and breathing deeply, anyone who
cannot sit comfortably or who has respiratory problems may have difficulty
practicing meditation. Some people with mental health problems, such as
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or
schizophrenia, may not be able to use meditation
Meditation is not thought to have any
negative side effects or complications alone or when combined with conventional
medical treatment, but it is not considered appropriate or safe for acute,
Always tell your doctor if you are
using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an
alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be
safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.