Difference between Relaxation and Meditation

It is common to consider relaxation to be synonymous with meditation and vice-versa. But, there are actually a lot of differences between them. The only similarity is however that relaxation, as well as meditation, is that both of them lets your body relax. However, the one major and key difference is that meditation is the process of making your body light by applying the right effort.

Relaxation refers to any activity or process that will make you feel light because you are letting o of the tension by focussing on something else. Therefore, if you consider How we can heal? it is possible through relaxation as well as meditation.But meditation tends to be more effective in dealing with the pain and inner wounds effectively.

Relaxation versus meditation – A study

You can understand the effectiveness of meditation from a study. The participants in the study were about 81 medical students. They were split into 3 groups on a random basis. The groups were

  • Meditation
  • Relaxation
  • No-treatment control group


Meditation group conditions– The meditation group underwent a1.5 hour sessions for four days of a week spread over 4 weeks.  The meditation practices include body scan meditation, sitting meditation, hatha yoga, walking meditation, loving-kindness meditation which means the group focuses attention on feelings such as caring and love and cultivate compassionate awareness.

Relaxation group conditions– This group practised simple relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, simple breathing techniques, guided imagery and even autogenic phrases used by Schultz.


  • The positive mood set as well as the reduction in stress is How we can heal was evident in case of both the meditation as well as relaxation group than those involved in nothing
  • Meditation was slightly more effective than the somatic relaxation technique in reducing stress and positive state of mind.
  • Meditation could reduce distractive and ruminative thoughts better than relaxation techniques. The mindfulness meditation helps to build concentration which also helped to reduce rumination of thoughts.

The differences between meditation and relaxation

Though both these disciplines are quite useful in relieving stress and anxiety as well as deal with sleep disorders and How we can heal our pains and face disappointments, there is a vast difference between the two.

— Relaxation relaxes the body while meditation relaxes the mind. This emphasizes the role of meditation in reducing mental as well as physical stress.

— People who practised relaxation did not report reduced anxiety, overall satisfaction with their life, happiness and better personal clarity as reported by people who practised meditation.

— Relaxation unwinds the body and loosens or slackens the activity of the body or refers to not trying to do much. While relaxing, you let your mind go limp and avoid thinking about anything that can cause stress to you. while in meditation you keep trying to get back to focus everytime your thought wanders.

— When you relax your mind is still active and thoughts flow unabated. This clearly shows that relaxation will keep your thought processes engaged while meditation is a process that will help you to attempt to transcend the thought process.

— Meditation is a mind exercise that gets better with practice. It will help you achieve the state of nothingness which will let you experience exalted states of mind. but relaxation does not necessarily be a continuous process because what one might find relaxing at one point might not be relaxing in another situation.

— While relaxation points to a state of mind that does not think of any stressful situation, meditation refers to the process of slowing down the thoughts and focussing on the single point making you alert, focused and relaxed.


Relations refers to things like listening to music, watching TV, reading a book, etc. without stopping the thought processes that run abated while meditation refers to the process of stopping the thoughts and focussing on a single point such as mantra, breath or creative visualization or body scanning. This means that meditation relaxes you but not to the extent that you get sleepy by keeping the mind active.


Meditation and relaxation can be complimentary

Though meditation is considered to be more effective, How we can heal, actually would be to understand the complementary nature of meditation and relaxation. If you practice some form of conscious relaxation, which when practised in such a way that you are able to experience the inner stillness helpful for meditating.  Likewise, there might be meditation whose secondary effects is relaxation.

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