Scientists are beginning to uncover evidence that meditation has a tangible effect on the brain.
Sceptics argue that it is not a practical way to try to deal with the stresses of modern life. But the long years when adherents were unable to point to hard science to support their belief in the technique may finally be coming to an end.
When Carol Cattley's husband died it triggered a relapse of the depression which had not plagued her since she was a teenager. "I instantly felt as if I wanted to die," she said. "I couldn't think of what else to do."
Carol sought medical help and managed to control her depression with a combination of medication and a psychological treatment called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
However, she believes that a new, increasingly popular course called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) - which primarily consists of meditation - brought about her full recovery.
It is currently available in every county across the UK, and can be prescribed on the NHS.
One of the pioneers of MBCT is Professor Mark Williams, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. He helps to lead group courses which take place over a period of eight weeks. He describes the approach as 80% meditation, 20% cognitive therapy.
Source - BBC