A strong mind-body connection may help us feel calmer and happier.
There's no right or wrong way to mediate -- it requires nothing more than a quiet location, a comfortable position, relaxed breathing and focusing your attention on something specific (your breath, a word or phrase, an object). Practicing meditation for just 15 minutes a day can help relieve symptoms of depression.
In a study published in 2006 in the "Journal of Clinical Psychology," mindfulness meditation was found to show promise in reducing thoughts of suicide. And a study published in "Psychology Today" reports that neuroscientists have found that when we meditate, our brains shift activity from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left frontal cortex. Overall, meditation appears to change our brain structure, specifically in regions that regulate our emotions.
Guided imagery is also helpful for reducing stress, coping with chronic pain, immune dysfunction, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. It's based on the idea that body and mind are connected -- what your mind imagines, your body responds to as if the image is real. Instructors or scripts can help guide you (often through meditation or yoga techniques) and help you visualize your way to a relaxed state.