Meditation is a type of mind-body medicine. People have meditated for thousands of years. Those who meditate train themselves to focus on one thing, such as their breath. When the mind wanders, the practice of meditation trains the mind to return to the focus.

There are many forms of meditation. But most meditation forms involve:

  • A quiet setting.
  • A comfortable position.
  • Focused attention.
  • Openness to what happens without judgment.

Why it's done

Meditation may offer many benefits. Meditation might help you:

  • Focus.
  • Relax.
  • Sleep better.
  • Improve mood.
  • Lower stress.
  • Lessen tiredness.
  • Change thought patterns that don't serve you.

Research has found that meditation may help lower symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. When used with conventional medicine, meditation may improve health. For instance, some research suggests that meditation might help manage symptoms of:

  • Ongoing pain, also called chronic pain.
  • Asthma.
  • Cancer.
  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Experts believe meditation has few risks. But there haven't been many studies on what harm meditation can cause. For some people, meditation might cause anxiety or depression. More study is needed.

How you prepare

Many forms of meditation exist. If you're just starting, focusing on the breath is a simple way to start meditating. Follow these steps:

  • Find a quiet space where you won't be disturbed.
  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Set a timer for how long you want to meditate. You might try 10 to 15 minutes at first.
  • Close or partly close your eyes.
  • Focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out as you usually do. If it helps you to stay focused on your breath, try saying "breathe in" to yourself while breathing in. Say "breathe out" to yourself while breathing out.
  • When your mind wanders, simply notice it. Then bring your focus back to your breath.
  • To end the meditation, stop focusing on the breath. But stay seated and keep your eyes closed for a minute or two.
  • When you're ready, open your eyes.

What you can expect

Meditation takes practice. Even if you've been meditating for years, your mind might wander. Don't judge. Accept what happens during meditation and keep going back to your focus.

If you need help, you might try taking a class with a trained teacher. Or try one of the many videos you can watch online or a meditation app you can download from app stores.


Meditation releases tension from the body. You might feel calmer after each session. Over time, you might find yourself feeling less stressed and more relaxed overall. You might find yourself better able to handle life's events.

Feb. 10, 2024
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