There are many forms and traditions of meditation, as well as various ways or positions in which a person may meditate (usually a part of a particular tradition, although often simply the way an individual finds it easiest to relax and meditate through/ in). The one thing they all have in common is the focus on relaxing and quietening the mind.

The goal is not simply to remove any kind of stimulation to the mind, but to direct the concentration of thoughts onto one single, healing element - this can be a word, a sound, an image or simply the rhythm of one's breath.
Filling the mind with a feeling of peace and calmness will stop worrying, stressful thoughts to take over. With the mind calm and focused on the present, it neither reacts to old memories nor becomes preoccupied with fears and worries relating to the future, the two factors most likely to lead to chronic stress, a condition which can result in serious health problems.

There are two main forms of meditation - concentrative and mindfulness. In concentrative meditation, the attention is focussed either on an image, a sound (for instance a mantra being repeated) or the breath. This will still the mind, allowing the emergence of greater clarity and awareness. The simplest way is to concentrate on the breath. As the mind is becoming more and more absorbed in the inhalation/ exhalation rhythm, breathing will slow and deepen, resulting in the mind becoming more aware and tranquil.

In mindfulness meditation, thoughts, images, worries, feelings and sensations are allowed to parade through the mind, but are not given any attention. The individual just sits quietly and let's them go through his or her mind, without reacting to or getting involved with them. This will result in a state of mind which is clear, calm and non- (as opposed to over-) reactive.

It has been shown in studies that meditating will produce a state of healthy relaxation by generally reducing a variety of biochemical and physiological markers, as for instance respiration, heart and pulse rate and the release of major stress hormones. At the same time, the EEG alpha, a brain wave particularly associated with relaxation, is increased. While the body achieves a profound state of rest, the mind and brain become increasingly alert - a state of healthy, restful alertness. After an individual has meditated, faster reactions. broader understanding of situations and greater creativity are noted.

But meditation not only reduces stress related problems. it can also be used for the enhancement of immune functions in autoimune patients as well as in relation to AIDS and cancer. It can also help sufferers from addictions like alcohol and drugs, as well as others, for instance, by helping to normalise brain chemistry and rhythms (usually in conjunction with neuro - feedback). Many medical practitioners now recognise it's value and will recommend regular practice to anyone seeking improved, high levels of well being, both in physical and emotional/ mental aspects of their lives.

Author's Bio: 

Rachel Ann writes for the psychic & metaphysical arena and is a reiki master.

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