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Can Meditation Help Your Health?

Q. What is meditation?

A. Meditation is a technique that can relax the body and calm the mind. The practice involves sitting and repeating a sound or phrase, called a “mantra.” Some practitioners focus on their breathing patterns instead of on a mantra. You can even meditate by painting or playing an instrument. The goal is to relieve tension by focusing all of your awareness on a single thing.

Q. Can meditation help prevent or treat specific conditions?

A. Meditation can be used in addition to conventional medical treatment. Studies confirm that meditation may be beneficial for patients with:

  • Chronic pain

  • High blood pressure

  • Insomnia

  • Certain mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression

Meditation also may help lower cholesterol levels, slow pulse and breathing rate, and reduce anxiety. And it has been found to be helpful in treating substance abuse. Several studies indicate that meditation also may reduce risk for heart disease.

Q. What other benefits can be gained from meditation?

A. Regular meditation has been shown to improve quality of life. And it may even boost intelligence test scores.

Q. How can I start meditating?

A. Follow these steps to experience the benefits of meditation:

  • Choose an environment with few or no distractions.

  • Settle into a comfortable posture so that you can stay in that position for at least 10 minutes.

  • Select something on which to focus: a word, a phrase, a prayer, or your breathing rhythm.

  • Adopt a passive attitude by clearing your mind. Dismiss any intruding thoughts. Maintain focus by concentrating on your breathing, or by repeating your chosen word or words over and over.

Many communities and institutions offer classes in which an instructor guides students in the practice of meditation. Or you can refer to books that provide step-by-step instructions.

Online Medical Reviewer: Godsey, Cynthia, MSN, APRN, MSHE, FNP-BC
Online Medical Reviewer: Watson, L Renee, MSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2019
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