Meditation is a type of therapy that has been around for thousands of years. In the past, it was used to help monks understand and try to achieve enlightenment, otherwise known as spiritual awakening or coming to know transcendental truths. Today, meditation can be used for a number of different purposes, but most commonly it is used to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Meditation is a kind of mind-body medicine or complementary therapy. It may be used in conjunction with other alternative therapies or conventional medicine in order to help patients cope with mental or physical illnesses, disabilities, or chronic conditions.

Elements of Therapy

Meditation may be conducted in different settings. Some people practice it on their own at home and learn about how to meditate online or through books or self-help videos. Others take meditation classes or work one-on-one with a professional. During a meditation session, most of the time the goal is to focus one’s attention and eliminate the thoughts that enter the mind at random and cause undue stress. Techniques used in a meditation session may include one or more of the following:

  • Guided meditation: involves helping the participant to form mental images. It is sometimes referred to as visualization or guided imagery and involves listening to a teacher or tape and imagining the places or sequence he or she describes.
  • Mantra meditation: is based on the repetition of a mantra or chant which is meant to inspire calm and prevent distracting thoughts from entering the mind.
  • Mindfulness meditation: is popular in the Western world and involves increasing what is known as “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and living in the moment. During mindfulness meditation the participant is encouraged to focus on his or her breath and practice non-attachment with respect to thoughts.
  • Yoga: includes a series of breathing exercises and movement postures that promote flexibility and strength alongside mental tranquility.

businessman meditating


Meditation has been studied in a number of clinical and community settings. In general, it gives individuals power of their own emotional well-being and feelings of wellness. Practicing meditation on a daily basis has a beneficial effect over time, helping participants to change their outlook on stressful situations, manage their stress, increase their sense of self-awareness, live in the present moment, and reduce pessimism and negativity. Meditation may also be used to help individuals suffering from anxiety disorders, depression, cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, insomnia, and chronic pain. Research on meditation has shown that it can produce physical changes in the brain to promote happiness.

Pregnancy meditation


Meditation courses are not regulated by any governing body. They may be offered by community organizations such as the YMCA or religious organizations. They may be offered for free or at a fee. Teachers or meditation guides are not required to have a set of credentials including certification, although most have experience practicing a certain type of meditation and leading meditation courses. It is important to do some research into the style of class before signing up.


Meditation is beneficial for persons of all ages, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is an age-old practice that can help people to reduce stress and anxiety in their day-to-day lives. Meditation courses may involve guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, yoga, or the chanting of mantras. Meditation can be used to help individuals with different goals, such as overcoming depression or insomnia. It is not regulated in the United States but courses are usually offered by religious organizations or community groups.