Most meditation techniques are grouped into two major categories: concentrative meditation and mindfulness meditation. Concentrative meditation focuses on the breath, an image, or a sound in order to still the mind and allow a greater awareness to emerge. In mindfulness meditation, the meditator simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind without reacting or becoming involved with thoughts, memories, or worries. In both forms of meditation, one becomes keenly aware of reactions to stress, providing the individual with an increased internal sense of control.
One form of meditation, transcendental meditation (TM), practiced in the West for the past thirty years, can bring about a healthy state of relaxation in which the heart rate, pulse rate, stress hormones, and respiration rate decrease while EEG alpha brain waves, associated with relaxation, increase. Studies show that after TM, reactions are faster, creativity is greater, and comprehension is broader. Aside from the management of stress and pain, meditation offers numerous psychological and spiritual benefits.