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Various forms of meditation have been practiced for thousands of years throughout the world, with many techniques originating in Eastern religious practices. In modern times, numerous meditation types are in use, often outside of their original religious and cultural contexts. The definition of meditation is variable. A classic definition of meditation is the deliberate self-regulation of attention through which the stream of consciousness is temporarily suspended. A common goal is to attain a state of "thoughtless awareness" of sensations and mental activities occurring at the present moment. However, meditation is often popularly perceived as any activity through which a person's attention is focused on a repetitious thought or word. Meditation generally does not involve suggestion, autosuggestion, or trance. Techniques that make use of constant repetition of syllables, visualizations, or other thought forms, but do not achieve thoughtless awareness, are sometimes described as being "quasi-meditative." There are many forms and sub-types of meditation or "quasi meditation," and several techniques are described below. Mindfulness is an approach in which attention is focused on a physical sensation (such as the breath). When thoughts intrude, the individual returns to the focus. Attention is placed on the present moment, rather than on the future or past. This technique may involve a "body scan," in which one focuses on the body from head to feet, concentrating on areas of pain or illness. This is usually performed while lying down. Regular practice is suggested to enhance self-awareness. Analytical meditation differs from other forms in that the practitioner does not repeat a word over and over, but rather strives to comprehend the deeper meaning of the object of focus. Guided meditation or guided imagery is a technique that directs the imagination towards a conscious goal. Yoga nidra or yogic "sleep" is considered to be a form of guided meditation. Breath medita...
The practice of acupuncture originated in China 5,000 years ago. Today it is widely used throughout the world and is one of the main pillars of Chinese medicine. There are many different varieties of the practice of acupuncture, both in the Orient and in the West. The most common forms available to westerners are as follows. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) usually combines acupuncture with Chinese herbs. Classical acupuncture (also known as five element acupuncture) uses a different needling technique and relies on acupuncture independent of the use of herbs. Japanese acupuncture uses smaller needles than the other varieties. Medical acupuncture refers to acupuncture practiced by a conventional medical doctor. Auricular acupuncture treats the entire body through acupuncture points in the ears only. Electroacupuncture uses electrical currents attached to acupuncture needles. Aside from needles, other methods of stimulation are also considered forms of "acupuncture." These include the use of heat from the burning of herbs placed on specific points ("moxibustion") and the placement of herbal pastes on specific points. Research on the effectiveness of acupuncture has special challenges. These include the diversity of approaches, the practice of individualizing treatment for each patient, differing skill levels between practitioners, and difficulty separating out the effects of acupuncture from placebo effects (i.e., how the patient's beliefs and expectations affect his/her perception of symptoms). Based on acupuncture's long history of use as well as the limited research available, both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have identified many conditions for which it may be recommended. However, many common uses do not yet have formal scientific evidence to support them.