Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind for relaxation, increased awareness or for spiritual purposes. Meditation can have beneficial health effects by decreasing the negative impact of chronic stress on the body and mind. Meditation can support physical and emotional well-being by reducing muscle tension and quieting the mind, reducing anxiety and stress.
Most kinds of meditation include these common elements:
Meditation practice has been found to help conditions which are caused or exacerbated by stress. Meditation induces deep relaxation by reducing muscle tension, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Meditation helps quiet the mind and reduce emotional reactivity.
Research into the benefits of meditation is ongoing. Research has found evidence that treatment programs including regular meditation practice can help reduce depression; improve sleep, improve pain management, quit smoking, improve self-esteem, improve concentration, decrease menopausal symptoms, and reduce the severity of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
You can start with just a few minutes at a time. It is normal to be distracted during meditation. When you’re distracted by a noise or a thought, don’t judge the distraction and yourself for being distracted. Simply note the distraction and re-direct your focus to your breathing or whatever you were using as a focus. Meditation is not a skill, it is a practice. Working up to 10- or 15-minute sessions daily or a few times a week can be a reasonable goal to begin.
Mediation is one of many positive lifestyle practices that can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing. Meditation isn’t a substitute for healthy living habits or for medical treatment you might need. Sometimes people need a more comprehensive treatment program to address their issues, such as managing chronic pain, depression or hypertension.
Certain health conditions might interfere with your ability to practice meditation. People with PTSD, for example, might benefit from the guided support of a therapist when learning meditation practice and to help them find the type that is best for them. If you have mobility issues, for example, meditation methods with movement might not be helpful, or there might be a version of the method that you can do while sitting down.
Meditation is considered to be safe for most people. Sometimes people experience strong emotions might even cry during meditation. If meditation causes an experience that is distressing to you, please talk to your doctor.
The Cleveland Clinic offers meditation classes. For more information visit this web page: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/wellness/patient-resources/events
You can also use Cleveland Clinic Stress Free Now, an iOS app that is available in the App Store. It offers guidance on various kinds of meditation.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 08/01/2018