Many students are searching for healthy practices that relieve stress, calm frazzled nerves and help them relax. Mindfulness is a natural, easy-to-follow meditation method that offers college kids who are feeling the grind important physical, emotional and psychological benefits. No fancy meditation equipment to buy, no member’s card to acquire: a few minutes a day is all that’s required.
It seems like from grade school to college, today’s students can barely find time to take a breath of fresh air and smell the roses. College students, in particular, find themselves completely engrossed in campus life, from classes and exams to the requisite parties, and they may feel like they have no time for themselves. The intense rhythm of college activities can be relentless; as a result, many students suffer from stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation. This can have a negative impact on their health, grades, relationships and joie de vivre.
For this reason, more and more colleges and universities as well as high schools, recognizing the positive impact on their students’ well-being, are offering dedicated meditation spaces to help students destress and replenish.
Top 6 benefits of student meditation
1. Decreased stress
A reasonable amount of stress is healthy – it prompts us into action and helps us achieve our goals. Too much stress, on the other hand, is extremely unhealthy. Most students have to deal with an assortment of stressful situations: assignments, tests, admissions exams, co-curricular activities and social pressures are all part of the college experience.
Scientific evidence has shown that mindfulness meditation improves our ability to cope with stress. A regular practice – even a few minutes once or twice a day – gives our batteries time to recharge. Those who build a meditation practice and stick with it develop the inner resources they need to find that place of serenity and attentiveness when they need it most.
2. Improved concentration
Meditation also helps improve concentration – a top priority for any student. Through guided meditation for focus, we train in placing the attention on the present moment. When we begin meditating, one of the first methods we learn is how to settle our attention on the breath. This disciplines the mind to focus on a single activity at a time. It actually takes a lot of willpower to set the mental clutter and chit-chat aside and concentrate on the here and now. Research has found a compelling link between regular meditation sessions and enhanced attention spans.
3. Emotional wellbeing
Meditation practice has also been shown to promote creativity, improve happiness levels and foster peace of mind. These are all crucial facets of emotional health. Tokpa Korlo, a sobriety activist and meditation instructor, teaches that mindfulness helps us overcome the fear of now. By acknowledging what we presently feel and working with it directly, we develop a more positive mindset. Exam meditation, for instance, helps students overcome their fear of disappointing results so they can develop a more positive attitude towards the exam process here and now.
Confident minds also enjoy the challenge of finding inventive solutions to problems and puzzles. Good professors generally appreciate students who are willing to think outside the box. Meditation has been shown to bolster creativity and give inquisitive minds free rein to innovate.
4. Better sleep
There is conclusive evidence that mindfulness meditation promotes quality sleep and is an effective treatment for insomnia. For students, it’s often difficult to find time to sleep. When they do finally turn in, their minds are so busy that they find themselves ruminating about the next paper or exam instead of falling asleep. Once again mindfulness comes to the rescue! Just a few minutes of regular practice can help train the body and mind to disconnect from the busy-ness and pressures of college life. Research has shown that regular meditation can be a more effective remedy to sleeplessness than medication.
5. Lifestyle Choices that enhance concentration
It is a fact that lifestyle choices greatly impact energy and concentration levels. Little things like sleeping hours and food choices can make a lot of difference to studies. Too much or too little sleep leads to the mind either feeling lethargic or tiresome respectively. Similarly, too much food makes the mind drowsy, too little food or spicy food intake makes the mind agitated.
This doesn’t mean that you need to live a military lifestyle or take bland food all the time. But by monitoring sleep and meals, and a little attention on daily routine can go a long way in sustaining concentration levels and retention power.
6. Take a step back
Even if you love what you are doing, when the mind is trained at a single thing for too long, it tires out. So, after every few hours, take a break and do something completely different for a few minutes. Whether it is exercise, word jumbles, throwing the ball around or just lying down, let the mind disengage. Just like a bow is pulled back for the arrow to shoot forward, this could be the break that helps power through the work more effectively.
Meditation vs. substance abuse
Addiction has become the new reality in learning institutions worldwide. It’s the elephant in the room that doesn’t often get the attention it deserves. Addictive behavior is caused by an assortment of social and psychological triggers that include, but are not limited to, stress, peer pressure, relational conflicts, a need to escape, the absence of healthy coping mechanisms and the search for meaning. Most studies and programs – such as the University of Virginia’s Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention – have focused on the use of mindfulness to help prevent backsliding into addiction, which is easier to quantify than addiction prevention itself. Many experts believe that meditation exercises can also go a long way in heading substance abuse off at the pass. For more information on a path to recovery, see Tokpa Korlo’s program on Journey from Addiction to Meditation.
Guided student meditation
A specific benefit for students, exam meditation can help reduce the fear and anxiety associated with taking tests. Many students, regardless of how well prepared they are, worry about exams. Unfortunately, the negative energy and anxiety associated with exams can make students perform poorly, even if they know the material. By creating space in your mind, meditation instills renewed confidence in yourself and a more balanced view of life, allowing you to handle exam questions better. If you want to handle your whole life better, you could try guided gratitude meditation.
If you’re interested in learning how student meditation actually works, check out our blog Beginner’s Guide to Meditation and sign up to our Mindworks Meditation Courses even from your smartphone. You could choose a zen guided meditation if that appeals to you and set the mindful ball rolling. Mindworks contains a rich array of daily meditations as well as inspirational Mind Talks from authentic meditation teachers such as Trungram Gyalwa and Tokpa Korlo. Have fun as you develop a more confident approach towards college life, and remember that (meditation) practice makes perfect.