Meditation is a health practice that has been utilized by many cultures for thousands of years. Almost every type of religion has its own meditation practices; however, it isn’t just for religious people. In recent years, it has been used as a form of independent self-care to benefit both the body and the mind.

By definition, meditation is a mental technique or techniques that can be performed with the goal of heightened awareness and improved focus. People meditate today for religious reasons, to help ease physical pain and mental issues, and to help combat stress in everyday life.

What are the different forms of meditation?

There are nine specific forms of meditation, all of which are performed in different ways and by different cultures. Each type has its own focus, though many seem to share a similar goal of achieving peace and calmness.


Mindfulness meditation is a Buddhist type of meditation and is the most widely practiced form in the western world.It is aimed at acknowledging thoughts and allowing them to pass without dwelling on them. It tends to push towards observation and pattern recognition when it comes to the way people think.


Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Daoism use spiritual meditation. It is done using essential oils to enhance the experience, with the goal of reflecting on silence and connecting deeper with the universe or God.


Focused meditation revolves around concentration using internal or external influences. Examples of focused meditation include counting objects, listening to a repeating sound, or watching a candle burn. It is meant to help control and sharpen the mind’s focus.


This type of meditation revolves around activities that require movement, such as yoga, walking in the woods, or gardening. It is meant to bring about a sense of peace from the movement.

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Using one particular sound on a loop, this type of meditation is designed to clear the mind. This could be through repeating a word or phrase over again or humming the “Om” sound. It is thought that practicing mantras helps a person become more in tune with their surroundings, enhancing awareness.


Studies have investigated the effects of transcendental meditation on things such as anxiety and found that it can help those suffering from the condition find relief from their symptoms.It involves similar techniques to the mantra type of meditation; however, the mantra chosen here is more unique and specific to the person practicing.


This type of meditation is also referred to as the body scan, because it involves tightening and relaxing one part of the body at a time. The goal of progressive meditation is to help relieve physical tension.


Loving-kindness meditation is exactly as it sounds in the sense that the practice revolves around both sending and receiving love and kindness. The goal is to promote compassion, love, and acceptance towards others as well as oneself.


This type of meditation relies heavily on the imagination and is performed by visualizing positive images in the brain using all five senses. It is designed to promote relaxation, peace, and calmness.

What are the long-term effects of meditation?

Practicing meditation over a longer period of time is the best way to reap the benefits of the techniques. There are multiple different health effects of meditation, both physical and mental.


Meditation has long been thought to be a helpful aid in reducing stress and promoting relaxation. However, it has also been proven to help in the treatment of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Other mental health benefits include a high self-awareness, enhanced compassion and kindness, and higher levels of empathy. Transcendental meditation, in particular, has also been found to help combat addiction.  


Practicing meditation regularly can lead to many physical health benefits. One such benefit is better sleep. Research has found that those with insomnia who practiced meditation found relief from their condition and a better night’s rest.

Meditation has also been shown to help elevate brain activity and improve cognitive functions such as memory, attention span, concentration, and executive function in the brain. It does this by positively changing both brain function and structure.

Studies have also shown that meditation regularly could help those with chronic pain alleviate their symptoms. Meditation has also been linked to a decrease in blood pressure in those with high blood pressure.

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Image by Mor Shani on Unsplash: Does meditation boost the immune system?

Meditation and immune health

Another of the physical health benefits of meditation is that it can help with the health of the immune system. Practicing meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation, can help to modulate immune system function. Certain processes (such as the proinflammatory response, cell-mediated defense, and enzyme activity) have been shown to be positively influenced by regular practice of meditation.

Meditation also lends a hand in immune health because of the effects it has on overall stress levels throughout the body. Since chronic levels of stress can wreak havoc on the way the immune system functions, and meditation can improve stress levels over time, it indirectly leads to a better-functioning defense system.

The many health benefits of meditation have been studied rigorously in recent years, and for good reason. The practice is a proven technique that people of all ages and backgrounds can utilize on the road to better physical health and mental wellbeing.

Featured image by Benjamin Child on Unsplash