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Meditation can benefit people who are ill or overwhelmed by stress. It also promotes well-being in healthy people. In general, people who meditate regularly experience less anxiety and depression. They also report more enjoyment and appreciation of life, as well as better social relationships. Meditation produces a state of deep relaxation and a sense of balance, or equanimity. According to Michael J. Baime in Essentials of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, meditation allows one to fully experience intense emotions without losing composure. The consequence of emotional balance is greater insight regarding one's thoughts, feelings, and actions. Insight, in turn, promotes confidence and awareness. Meditation also facilitates a greater sense of calmness, empathy, and acceptance of self and others.

Meditation is sometimes suggested as a complement to medical treatments of disease; in particular, it is an important complementary therapy for both the treatment and prevention of many stress-related conditions. Regular meditation may reduce the number of symptoms

Anxiety—A feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by physical symptoms (heart palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress, for example).

Anxiety disorders—Chronic conditions that can be characterized by an excessive and regular sense of apprehension, with physical symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, and feelings of stress. Anxiety disorders can be caused by biological and environmental events.

Anxiety-reduction techniques—Skills taught by a therapist to help an individual overcome anxiety, stress, and tension, and can include relaxation, visualization and imagery, diaphragmatic breathing, stress inoculation, and meditation.

Biofeedback—Biofeedback is a technique that uses monitoring instruments to measure and feed back information about muscle tension, heart rate, sweat responses, skin temperature, or brain activity.

Bodywork—Any technique involving hands-on massage or manipulation of the body.

Dervish—A person who belongs to one of the various mystical and ascetic Muslim orders, such as the Sufis. A whirling dervish meditates by whirling or spinning an ecstatic dance.

Hypnotherapy—The use of an induced trance state, or hypnosis, as a therapy.

Mantra—Originally, a sacred word or phrase repeated over and over to help focus the mind during meditation; in the Western world, this may refer to any repeated syllable, word, or phrase used to meditate.

Pain disorder—One of several somatoform disorders described in the revised, fourth edition of the mental health professional's handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term "somatoform" means that symptoms are physical but are not entirely understood as a consequence of a general medical condition or as a direct effect of a substance, such as a drug.

Progressive relaxation—A technique for managing stress in which the person relaxes major muscle groups in a fixed sequence, often beginning with the feet and moving towards the head.

Transcendental meditation (TM)—A meditation technique based on Hindu practices that involves the repetition of a mantra.

Yoga—A system of exercises for achieving bodily or mental control and well-being.

experienced by patients with a wide range of illnesses and disorders. Based upon clinical evidence, as well as theory, meditation is seen as an appropriate therapy for panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance dependence and abuse, ulcers, colitis, chronic pain, psoriasis, and dysthymic disorder—a disorder that involves a steady, depressed mood for at least two years. Moreover, meditation is a valuable adjunct therapy for moderate hypertension (high blood pressure), prevention of cardiac arrest (heart attack), prevention of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), arthritis (including fibromyalgia), cancer, insomnia, migraine, and stroke. It is a complementary therapy for moderating allergies and asthma because it reduces stress, which is prevalent in these conditions. Additionally, meditation may improve function or reduce symptoms of patients with neurologic disorders such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.

In 1995, the authors of a report to the National Institutes of Health on complementary or alternative medicine reviewed 30 years of research and reports of individuals and health care providers. They concluded that meditation and related methods for the enhancement of relaxation are cost-effective ways to improve health and quality of life.

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