What is Meditation?

When you think of meditation, you may picture an Indian yogi sitting in a lotus pose, perched high in the Himalayas. Or you might think of your local yoga teacher, Bob.

Either way, understanding what meditation is and what it isn't can help you get started on the right foot.

So... What is meditation?

Meditation simply means relaxing and reposing in your true nature. You could call it peace, love, or bliss. The key thing to understand is that you must relax to meditate.

There are hundreds of different meditation practices, like walking meditation, mantra meditation, and SKY Breath Meditation, and they are all intended to lead you to the same place. The state of complete relaxation. Which, in turn, leads to stress reduction and improved mental and physical health.

Wondering how to get started? We’ve got you covered!

Art of Living teachers

We have been teaching meditation for more than 40 years. With millions of people from all walks of life already benefiting from our meditation practices, you can trust that you're in good hands. Our instructors undergo more than 1,000 hours of training, and our techniques are based on ancient yogic practices that have stood the test of time.

You can dig into our articles to learn all the ins and outs of meditation, how to get started, how to avoid common pitfalls, and more, all for free!

And we're here to answer any and all your questions about the vast topic of meditation, so you can begin with confidence and establish a formal meditation practice that brings you peace and happiness for years to come.

Check out this infographic about how to meditate to whet your palate.

how to meditate infographic

What are the benefits of a regular meditation practice?

The benefits of meditation are truly astounding. From increased mental clarity and energy to reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, there's almost nothing that meditation isn’t good for.

For a deep dive into the benefits of meditation, read this article: 

Topics covered include:

  • General benefits of meditation
  • Physical benefits of meditation
  • Mental benefits of meditation
  • Complex physical and mental benefits of meditation
  • How to get the benefits

Most of these benefits can be traced back to a single source. Meditation reduces stress.

Stress is the root cause of so many problems in our lives, whether physical, mental, or emotional. In fact, the American Medical Association has noted that stress causes more than 60% of all human diseases and illnesses.

Let's briefly go over the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of meditation.

Physical health benefits of meditation

relaxed state

Even 20 minutes to half an hour a day of regular meditation practice can offer tremendous benefits to your physical health.

Here's a list of just a few.

  • Improved circulation
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Healthier blood pressure
  • Improved immune function
  • Enhanced quality of sleep
  • Decreased cellular inflammation

For a deeper understanding of how meditation can enhance your quality of sleep, read Meditation for Better Sleep: How to Tuck Your Mind Into Bed.

Mental health benefits of meditation

Meditation session

Who doesn’t want to overcome mental health conditions and issues? And meditation has been shown to help.

So, what exactly happens to your mental health when you begin meditating?

  • Increased focus and clarity of mind
  • Decreased stress
  • Increased sense of calm and peace in life
  • Increased energy
  • Improved memory
  • Decreased symptoms of ADHD

Emotional health benefits of meditation

When you worry or regret, your emotions suffer. But meditation can help you stop regretting the past and worrying about the future so that you can have deeper experiences of the present moment.

Here are some of the amazing benefits to your emotional health meditation offers:

  • Improved symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders
  • Reduced symptoms of depression
  • Enhanced ability to be natural and centered in any situation
  • Improved self-confidence


Spiritual benefits of meditation

While physical, mental, and emotional benefits are great reasons to meditate, many people meditate for the spiritual benefits. 


Here are some of the spiritual benefits you can expect to experience in the long term:

  • Inner peace
  • Contentment
  • Resilience
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Live more in the present moment
  • More compassion
  • Balanced chakras (energy centers)
  • Deeper connections with people and the world around you

Read The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Balancing Your 7 Chakras to learn more about the body’s energy centers and their connection to spirituality.

Now that you know about the benefits of meditation, jumpstart your practice with our blog about meditation for beginners: 

Topics covered include:

  • What is meditation, and what are some of the benefits?
  • Before you start: Preparation
  • Creating a meditation routine
  • How to learn meditation

How long will it take to get results?

Happy man in meditation

Wondering how long it will take to reach enlightenment?

Starting a meditation practice is just like starting to exercise at the gym. You may be eager for quick results, but in most cases, the full spectrum of benefits takes time to manifest. If you go to the gym once, you get one step closer to health—and it’s better than not going to the gym at all. At the same time, when you go to the gym regularly, you start to get more and more benefits—strength, abs, more stamina, etc.

Also, with meditation, consistency is the key. 

Will one meditation help you? Yes. Will a regular practice build up even more benefits? Also yes. So, the more regularly you meditate over time, the better you’ll feel.

And—like going to the gym—while it may feel challenging at first, with practice and proper training, sinking into deep meditation becomes easier and easier.

How long should you meditate?

The answer here depends on where you are in your journey. As a beginner, even dedicating a few minutes a day to meditation is better than nothing. But most people really start to see benefits when they commit 20 minutes a day over the long term.

Different meditation practices

Now that you know what to expect when you get started, let's take a high-level look at some different types of meditation practices.

Body scan meditation

Body scan meditation is the simple technique of bringing your awareness to different parts of the body in a systematic, relaxing way. It may sound simple, but this method is extremely effective and easy for beginners to practice. This can be a great intro to the world of meditation.

Basic mindfulness meditation

There are many mindfulness meditation practices, all of which center on bringing attention to the present moment. The most basic mindfulness practice is to sit still while focusing awareness on your breath. When your mind wanders, you gently bring your awareness back to the breath without judgment.

Consistent practice of mindfulness meditation helps break patterns of overthinking and keeps you rooted in the present moment.

Walking meditation

Walking meditation

A walking meditation is actually a vertical version of mindfulness meditation. To practice this form of meditation, you walk slowly, feeling every sensation in your feet, legs, and body. When you feel your mind wandering, you just bring your attention back to the bodily sensations of walking.

This meditation exercise will break negative thought patterns and reduce stress.

Breath-based meditation

For thousands of years, meditators have used breathwork to prepare for meditation. Breathing techniques, like SKY Breath Meditation, can balance emotions and calm the mind, inducing a deep state of relaxation. This centered state of calm makes meditation possible for almost anyone.

Guided meditation

Guided meditation allows you to enjoy the benefits of meditation without having to worry about whether you're practicing correctly. Simply relax and gently follow the instructions. You don't need to focus too intently on the instructions. Remember, relaxation is the key.

Click below to try an amazing guided meditation with world-renowned meditation master Gurudev.

How to meditate

Now that you've explored many of the different forms of meditation, you're probably wondering how actually to practice meditation.

Check out this article to find out how!

Topics covered include:

  • Dropping preconceived concepts
  • Do not try to control the mind
  • Learn from an expert
  • Bonus tip from a master of meditation

The connection between mind and breath

If you've tried meditating before, but your mind and/or emotions just wouldn't settle down, try adding a simple breathwork-based technique like SKY Breath Meditation to the beginning of your practice and experience how easy and effortless meditation can be.

Good luck on your meditation journey. We’re with you all the way!



SKY Breath Meditation


Helps busy people who struggle with stress and anxiety to clear their minds with a breath-based meditation that works from day one.

Sahaj Samadhi Meditation


This mantra-based meditation technique makes meditation easy. It uses a subtle sound (mantra) that effortlessly allows the conscious mind to settle down, letting go of tension and stress and centering itself in the present moment.

Silent Retreat


Go beyond your usually active mind and experience peace and renewed vitality through uniquely powerful guided meditations, yoga, and an experience of silence.

Real People, Real Voices

Guided Meditation

It can be hard to meditate on your own, if you haven't learned a technique or having someone guide you. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living, is an expert at leading people into meditation in an effortless manner, and has done so for millions of people worldwide.

Experience the benefits of meditation starting today with these free online guided meditations >>