Meditation is a process by which an individual trains his mind to achieve a unique state of consciousness different than that of everyday normal consciousness. The meditative state of consciousness is thought to have certain psychological, spiritual and physiological benefits. In some traditions, the meditative state of consciousness is a prerequisite for insight or enlightenment. In other traditions, benefits include increased health and longevity, spiritual ascendance, visions, or other transcendent experiences.
When meditating, a person usually concentrates their minds on a specific focal point. Otherwise, he may attempt to empty his mind of all thoughts. In the case of the latter, he may still initially concentrate on a certain word, sound or image as his mind clears. Body posture is usually an important component of meditation. Other rituals might govern the use of the meditative space.
A review of the scientific literature reveals that there are several physiological and psychological benefits to meditation. Meditation has been shown to regulate heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism. It also appears to reduce stress and increase individuals’ self-image and outlook on life.