The ancient practice of meditation is being lauded as a primary stress fighter and booster of the immune system.

Ten million Americans now say they practice some form of meditation regularly. People know their lives are more stressful than before. They are practicing meditation on their own or taking classes offered in a wide variety of settings.

Physicians especially recommend meditation for stress-related conditions where research has proved it to be very effective. And many physicians now use it as a way to control the pain of chronic diseases like heart conditions, AIDS, and cancer. It's also being used to help those suffering from depression and psychiatric disturbances.

According to Daniel Goleman, author of Destructive Emotions (Bantam), tests show that meditation can actually reset the brain, changing the point at which a problem sets the blood boiling.

Meditating in silence for 10 minutes or more a day while concentrating on breathing or a word can train you to focus on the present rather than the past or the future. Here's how to do it.

* Find a quiet place. Tune out distractions. Turn out the lights if that helps.

* Close your eyes. Shut out the world so your brain can stop processing information from the senses.

* Pick a word, any word whose sound or rhythm is soothing when repeated.

* Say it again and again to yourself with every outbreath. This will help you focus.

Ancient Christian meditations such as the Rosary can have the same effect.

It's not snake oil, it's modern medicine. It's free, convenient, and anybody can do it.