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  • 15 June 2022
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The Power of Meditation

Hal Morgan

Meditation has a long history as a practice in spiritual and religious traditions. More recently, it has become popular as a way to reduce stress. Meditation is also being used to complement conventional medicine in treating certain health conditions.

If you’ve heard about meditation, but never practiced it, you might wonder what it is and how it can deliver such a wide range of benefits. Here’s a quick overview.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a mind and body practice that takes many forms. Almost all involve focusing your attention on something—your breathing, a repeated mantra, an object or image, an aspect of your environment, or the movement and sensation of your body. The aim is to clear your mind of everyday thoughts, worries, and distractions and concentrate on the present moment or spiritual connection. Most involve relaxed breathing in a quiet and comfortable setting.

Commonly practiced types of meditation include:

  • Mindfulness meditation, in which you focus on what you are experiencing as you meditate, accept those feelings and sensations, and bring yourself to be in the present moment without thoughts of the past or future.
  • Zen meditation, in which you focus on broadening your awareness of your environment, thoughts, and sense of self without focusing on one specific object,
  • Mantra meditation, in which you repeat a calming word or phrase to focus your attention and quiet distracting thoughts.
  • Transcendental Meditation, in which you silently repeat a meaningless sound that is unique to you, assigned by a certified Transcendental Meditation teacher.
  • Guided meditation, in which a leader guides you to focus your thoughts on a particular object, image, or feeling or helps steer you to suspend your thinking.
    • Guided imagery is a form of guided meditation in which you imagine yourself in places or situations you find calming, with all of their sights, sounds, smells, and tactile feelings.
    • Kindness or compassion meditation is another form of guided meditation, in which you focus your thoughts on unconditional love for yourself and others and on peace and healing.
  • Yoga, tai chi, and qigong all include meditation as elements in their practice.

What are some benefits of meditation?

The benefits of meditation vary with the type practiced. These can include:

  • Stress reduction. The goal of almost all forms of meditation is to induce a state of calmness and tranquility, so your stress is relieved while you are engaged in meditation. But the benefit carries well beyond that. Studies have found that regular practitioners of meditation have reduced levels of stress and anxiety at all times, not just immediately after a session of meditation. In addition to its calming effect in the moment, meditation can help you gain new perspective on stressful situations and help you build skills to manage stress.
  • Improved health. Because of its stress-reducing benefit, meditation is being used more widely as a complementary treatment for certain health conditions, particularly those that can be aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, chronic pain, and certain inflammatory conditions. Meditation can also be helpful in reducing the anxiety, pain, and fatigue associated with conditions such as cancer.
  • Increased patience and acceptance. Kindness meditation focuses specifically on strengthening patience for and kindness toward yourself and others and has been shown to be effective in improving wellbeing among care professionals, such as nurses. Mindfulness meditation, by encouraging you to notice your feelings and accept them, can bring similar benefits in greater patience with and acceptance of yourself.
  • Greater self-awareness. Some types of meditation, such as Zen meditation, involve a focus on self-awareness and self-understanding. Other types of meditation can be used in conjunction with therapy to help steer the mind away from unproductive or self-destructive thinking and toward more constructive patterns of thought.
  • Enhanced memory and attention span. The practice of focusing the mind during meditation appears to have a carry-over effect in improving short-term memory and lengthening attention span.

Try meditation for yourself

There are many types of meditation and no single “right” way to meditate. It’s easy to find local classes if you want to get started. You can also try it yourself. There are plenty of online tutorials for each of the many meditation methods, and no special equipment is needed.

Trying a guided meditation is an easy way to get a taste of the practice. Or you might prefer to experience the quiet and tranquility of meditation by yourself, with no one steering your thoughts.

Once you find a type of meditation that works for you, the next step is to build it into your daily routine. Many people meditate to start their day, others to take a break during or at the end of a busy day.

Both the research and the real-life stories of people who meditate show that it can be time well spent.

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family, and personal needs to become healthier, happier, and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness, and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals, and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more email us at

Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.


Basso, J.C. et al. (Jan 1, 2019). Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Behavioral Brain Research, 356:208-220. PMID: 30153464.

Goyal, M. et al. (March 2014) Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med, 174(3):357-68. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018. PMID: 24395196; PMCID: PMC4142584.

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