Complementary Health Approaches

Frequently Asked Questions

8. What is meditation?

Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being. Mind and body practices focus on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior.

(Watch this video to see how meditation is practiced. To enlarge the videos on this page, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner of the video screens. To reduce the videos, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common: a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; a specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions); a focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath); and an open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them).

(Watch this video to learn more about the origins and traditions of meditation.)

See what the science says about the effectiveness of meditation.