Meditation offers ways for college students to cope

Miki Akiyama, a sophomore marketing major from Tokyo, Japan, is meditating while studying to clear her mind and focus on school. It is important to take a break to meditate and reduce the stress that has accumulated throughout your day. Photo by Misha Mosiichuk.

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Imagine yourself in a quiet, peaceful surrounding — your happy place — eyes closed, breathing in and out, releasing every negative thought from your mind and bringing awareness to your breath and every inch of your body.

This is what meditation feels like. Meditation is what keeps you in tune with your mind and body.

Benefits of meditation scientifically proven

Harvard scientists have explored meditation as an approach to improving individuals’ mental and physical health.

According to Harvard Dr. Herbert Benson: “The mind plays a critical role in the body’s health and disease states… A simple intervention aimed at emptying the mind of the constant barrage of intrusive thoughts can achieve major benefits for the body.”

A 2018 study indicated that people who meditated over an eight-week period exhibited a decrease in blood pressure, which in turn decreases the chance of experiencing heart attacks, strokes, organ damage and premature death.

Importance of college students meditating

The challenges college students face include taking several classes, retaining loads of information and attempting to absorb and memorize it all, said Jasher Feellove, yoga instructor and owner of Be Hot Yoga. You may start to feel like a failure if you aren’t doing as well as you’d like, then you lose motivation to work hard, which leads your mind down a slippery slope to depression, anxiety, fear and stress.

“Meditation helps you appropriate stress into strength,” Feellove said.

Fear and anxiety disconnects the brain’s ability to solve problems, so when you bring awareness to your breath instead of your thoughts, you are going to feel better, and when you feel better you can solve the problems you are facing.

“Either you feel as if you are in a state of limitation or in a state of possibility,” Feellove said. “Meditation helps you go from a state of limitation to feeling like there are many paths.”

Elizabeth Reeder, a sophomore emergency services major from Logan, said during her time in a yoga class, she learned about the different techniques of meditation pertaining to different energy levels of her body. This taught her how to get in tune with herself and specific areas of her body.

“It actually really helped me focus a lot and learn a lot more about myself,” Reeder said. “It was nice to get in the zone where you have nothing on your mind.”

Reeder said she would recommend other college students implement meditation into their daily routines because it’s a valuable time to focus and destress.

What is meditation?

A misconception people may have about meditation is that it’s something you need to just start doing, but you first need to locate what it feels like to you personally, said yoga instructor Hollie Fillmore. You need to find your own style of meditation and practice that.

“Meditation for me is locating myself, my true essence,” Fillmore said. “The purpose of meditation is to know without a doubt that I am a creator of my own universe.”

Feellove said meditation is taking one type of practice, applying it to yourself and creating a personal experience with it.

“You are in your body, but you’re dealing with the consciousness of your body,” Feellove said.

Think of your body compared to a smartphone. A smartphone is limited by software and hardware that exists; your body is like the hardware of your phone, but the software — your consciousness — is what you’re dealing with.

Imagine if we didn’t understand a smartphone could connect to the internet and give us access basically anywhere we are without Wi-Fi. The same goes for our bodies and minds. We have access to our minds beyond what we think is capable.

Fillmore said meditation comes in various forms, and sometimes we may not even realize we are meditating.

“When you’re doing what you love, you are participating in meditation,” Fillmore said. “When you take big sighs and you start to breathe differently, [that’s meditation].”

Meditation can be kissing your significant other, holding a puppy, drawing or painting, or even taking photos; whatever may be a happy, relaxing activity for you is your personal form of meditation.

As we go throughout our day, we are pulled in several directions, and we need time to bring our bodies and minds back to a comfortable space, Fillmore said. It’s important for everyone to take a few minutes every day to ease their minds.

While you’re sleeping, your subconscious cleans itself out, so when you wake up, your mind is completely free and clear. While there is no wrong time to meditate, it is most efficient between the time you wake up and before the stresses of your day start to creep in.

Fillmore said her experience with meditation consists of hearing what she feels inside her body. She said she can locate herself, locate where her energy is specifically, where she feels locked up, and where she is breathing from.

“It was so mind blowing to me the things that were happening inside of me because of it,” Fillmore said. “It’s a cornucopia of endless possibilities. Anything is possible, and you feel that happening.”