Meditation is a mind-body practice in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). There are many types of meditation, most of which originated in ancient religious and spiritual traditions. Generally, a person who is meditating uses certain techniques, such as a specific posture, focused attention, and an open attitude toward distractions. Meditation may be practiced for many reasons, such as to increase calmness and physical relaxation, to improve psychological balance, to cope with illness, or to enhance overall wellness. This Backgrounder provides a general introduction to meditation and suggests some resources for more information.
Preventing Chronic Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Meditation is one of several relaxation methods evaluated by the National Institutes of Health and found to be of benefit. Many cancer treatment centers offer meditation or relaxation therapy with standard medical care. Although it is not used to treat cancer, meditation is a useful complementary therapy for treating chronic pain and sleeping problems, such as insomnia, and for reducing stress and anxiety in both the mind and body. In a controlled study of 90 cancer patients who did mindfulness meditation for 7 weeks, 31% of participants had fewer symptoms of stress and 65% had fewer episodes of mood disturbance than participants who did not meditate.
The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society
The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society is a visionary force and global leader in mind-body medicine. For thirty years, we have pioneered the integration of mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness-based approaches in mainstream medicine and healthcare through patient care, research, academic medical and professional education, and into the broader society through diverse outreach and public service initiatives. Directed by Saki F. Santorelli, EdD, MA, since 2000 and founded in 1995 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD , the Center is an outgrowth of the acclaimed Stress Reduction Clinic – the oldest and largest academic medical center-based stress reduction program in the world. Information about the stress reduction program is available here.
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