Meditation is the practice of turning one's attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase, known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means pivoting away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. Escaping from a noisy world isn't always easy: It can take a bit of effort to keep oneself focused and to develop a routine, though there is no shortage of tips for accomplishing these things. There are a variety of approaches to meditation, but the concept is deceptively simple. A cartoon from The New Yorker sums it up: Two monks are sitting side by side, meditating. The younger one is giving the older one a quizzical look, to which the older monk responds, "Nothing happens next. This is it."
What Is Meditation?
Clear Your Mind
It’s impossible for us to make our thoughts disappear, and often, the more ardently we try to suppress them, the louder they become. But practicing meditation can help clear away the mind’s chatter, at least temporarily. Those experiencing anxiety or pain may find their symptoms abating with regular meditation. Specific types of meditation are associated with different documented effects: Mindfulness meditation, for instance, has been shown to decrease distraction and rumination, and it can make our negative automatic thoughts seem less frequent and easier to let go of. Likewise, loving-kindness meditation may limit the frequency of our repetitive thoughts, in addition to curbing our charged responses to those thoughts.