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Meditation to Relieve Chronic Stress

What is meditation?

Meditation is a technique that helps you focus your attention on something that has no emotional value to you. When you meditate, the goal is to find a way to clear your mind of disturbing thoughts that activate the stress pathways in your brain.

Meditation trains your mind to become less responsive to stress, resulting in physiologic changes that lower the concentration of the stress hormones in your blood and counteract the harmful effects of stress throughout the day.

Contact Us

For more information about UPMC's Healthy Lifestyle Program, call 800-533-8762.

Or, e-mail Dr. Bruce RabinDirector, Healthy Lifestyle Program, at

Is there a trick to get me to stop thinking about things that disturb me?

When you're trying to relax your mind and an intrusive thought enters, try the following tricks:

  • Focus your attention on a word, phrase, sound, or repetitive movement (such as achieved with Tai chi).
  • Take a few minutes to focus on the neutral event rather than the bothersome thoughts.
  • Understand that there's nothing you can do about certain disturbing thoughts and let them go.

Will I learn to do this quickly?

It's not easy to train your mind to be less responsive to stress, but your mind gets better with practice. Just like playing an instrument or sport, you must practice and repeat these stress-coping techniques to improve. The more you practice relaxing your mind, the easier and more effective it will become.

Is there a reason that I should be concerned about doing this?

No. Learning to relax will not make you a less effective person or negatively affect your work performance. In fact, learning to relax will make you more efficient in your everyday life, increase your feeling of being calm, and enable you to interact better with others.