What is meditation?

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally calm and stable state. This is the definition according to Wikipedia.

Meditation is practiced in several religious traditions. The earliest records of meditation are found in the Upanishads and meditation plays an important role in Buddhism and Hinduism. Meditation is known as dhyana in Hinduism and Buddhism. Since the 19th century Asian meditation techniques have spread to other cultures.

Benefits of Meditation

Reduces Stress

Meditation brings a sense of calm and well being to the mind and body and can reduce stress. Reducing stress is one of the most common reasons people meditate. Research shows that meditation lowers the levels of the hormone cortisol that causes stress. Reducing cortisol decreases the stress you feel.

Increased sense of well being

Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit your emotional wellbeing. These benefits can help carry you more calmly through your day. Meditation also reduces negative thoughts.

Reduces anxiety, depression and insomnia

Meditation helps reduce anxiety and depression. It reduces negative thoughts and gives a more positive outlook to life. Studies have shown that meditation therapies reduce the symptoms of depression. It helps one stay in the present moment and alters your perception of life in a positive way.
People with a regular meditation practice often sleep better. Meditation promotes deep, restful sleep.

Lowers Blood pressure

Studies have shown that Transcendental Meditation (TM) might lower blood pressure. TM is a simple natural technique in which a assigned word or mantra is repeated silently in the mind for about 20 minutes.

Increases happiness

Regular meditators say that they feel happier and more contented. Long time meditators experience feeling of happiness and joy even when there are no external causes to feel that way.
You will only feel the benefits of meditation by starting and maintaining a regular practice. To get the most of your meditation practice aim to meditate at least once a day. This does not need to be a lengthy practice. Studies have shown as little as 5 minutes a day to be beneficial. There are several techniques to choose from such as Kriya Yoga, Transcendental meditation, Metta meditation, Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana, and several other Buddhist meditations. Which ever meditation you decide on remember regularity is the key to get the most out of your practice.