Meditation is an ancient practice that can have many benefits in contemporary times. It can reduce stress and anxiety, and it can also improve physical health.

While there are different types of meditation and different approaches to this practice, at the core, they all have a similar effect, which is that they calm the individual and place them in the present. One reason that most forms of meditation focus on breath to some extent is because this is something that an individual can refocus on over and over again as their attention wanders.

Among the mental and emotional benefits of meditation are becoming more self-aware and less negative and increasing creativity. Physical benefits can include making it easier to sleep at night, reducing high blood pressure and lowering the heart rate. In addition, many chronic and acute illnesses are worsened by stress, and meditation can help reduce that stress, improving the well-being of people suffering from those illness. Meditation can help people who have cancer, asthma, chronic pain and heart disease. It can also help people with depression.

It is not necessary to meditate for hours at a time to enjoy these benefits. In fact, meditating for as little as five or 10 minutes each day can lead to improvements. Short daily meditations are generally better than occasionally trying to meditate for long periods of time because meditation is a little bit like exercising a muscle. Doing it regularly, even for brief periods, can make it easy to draw on its effects in moments of stress. A regular meditator may be able to calm themselves with breathing exercises and focusing on the present moment instead of losing their temper or otherwise reacting badly in a stressful situation. The return to the calm mindset can become like second nature.

Meditation can be guided, may involve repeating a mantra or can simply involve paying attention to the five senses. Although beginners may find it easier to meditate in peaceful surroundings, it can be done anywhere. It can even be done while walking or running. People who are interested in exploring it for better health can experiment with different types to see what works for them.