By Riley Webster, The Lotus Journal
Whether it’s achieving that sought-after GPA to get into your dream university, figuring out how to tackle the mountain of homework on your desk, or studying for finals, we as students all experience a certain degree of stress.
The good news is that meditation can alleviate some of this school-related anxiety while simultaneously helping to improve academic performance.
When I was a university student, I saw first-hand the benefits of incorporating meditation into my daily life. I’ve used my experience teaching yoga to create a step-by-step guide on how students can create a meditation routine and why it can help you accelerate in both your school and personal life.
How meditation will help you achieve your academic goals
1. Increases focus
We are bombarded with so many media and stimulation in our fast-paced world that society as a whole has developed an extremely short attention span. Meditation helps develop better concentration, focus, and attention – necessary tools for better study habits.
2. Releases stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety can hinder academic performance by limiting proper brain function and sending stress signals to the cells in the body. This puts our bodies in “fight or flight” mode, something we definitely need to avoid for productive studying. By focusing on our breathing, we become more aware of our bodies versus our thoughts, and stress and anxiety dissipate. This creates a clear, calm mind ready to tackle anything academia may throw your way.
3. Enhances creativity
Meditation brings us back to the present moment, and when we are in the present moment, our brains can function optimally. By quieting our thoughts and constant mind chatter, new ideas are sparked that aren’t drowned out by any incessant, repetitive thought patterns.
4. Creates a healthier body
No more getting sick during crunch time! Meditation has been scientifically proven to boost immunity, increase energy, lower blood pressure, and lessen inflammation in the body.
How to meditate
1. Choose a quiet spot to sit.
Your quiet spot can be in your bedroom, backyard, kitchen, bathroom floor, you name it. As long as this space is somewhere you can sit uninterrupted, it will work.
2. Sit with your eyes closed and palms facing upwards on your lap.
You can sit with your legs crossed or kneel if you are on the floor, otherwise sitting in a chair is perfectly fine. Closing your eyes helps to remove distraction, and the upward facing direction of your palms helps you receive energy.
3. Pay attention to your breath.
Notice each inhalation and exhalation through your nose. How does each breath feel as it passes through your body? Can you feel the cool air enter your nostrils, fill your lungs, expand your belly and chest as you inhale? Can you feel the gentle contraction of your lower back and ribcage, and the warm air leave your nostrils as you exhale? Become aware of all the sensations occurring in your body.
4. Notice your thoughts, and then let them go.
The goal of meditation isn’t just to not think, the goal is to become aware that you are thinking, and then let the thoughts go without getting caught up in the stories and emotions that they carry. It is ok and completely natural to have thoughts connected to a myriad of feelings, but by becoming aware of these thoughts, you are able to release them, and move on to peace and clarity.
How to develop a meditation routine
1. Meditate first thing in the morning.
It is so much easier to stay committed to your meditation practice if you do it immediately upon waking up in the morning. This way, you won’t have any excuses stemming from being “too busy” later on in the day, and you’ll feel much more focused and relaxed in the morning as you haven’t had anything happen in your day to throw you off-track.
2. Make a commitment to your practice.
Decide how often you will meditate and stick to your goal! While I recommend meditating daily, this may be daunting to some people. Choose the days that you will meditate at the beginning of the week, put a reminder in your phone, and be consistent.
3. Start small.
Don’t sit down for your first attempt at meditation and expect to sit there in utter bliss for 45 minutes. Set a timer for five minutes and increase the time as you feel more comfortable.
4. Don’t sweat it.
Some days, it will be extremely difficult to clear your thoughts and get in the zone. Don’t sweat it and don’t judge yourself. Any yogi or enlightened meditator has experienced the same frustrations; the key to successful meditation is to simply be aware of your thoughts without getting caught up in their stories.
5. Be patient.
There is no exact timeline of when you will notice the benefits of your meditation routine, but if you stay consistent, encouraged, and believe in the power it carries, you will notice tremendous improvements in your academic life, as well as many other aspects of your personal life.
Riley Webster is the owner and publisher of The Lotus Journal, a blog dedicated to her love of travel, yoga, health and wellness. She writes with the intention of inspiring people to live adventurous, joyful and mindful lives. As a yoga teacher and plant-based health junkie, Riley loves learning about alternative medicine to achieve optimal health, and much of her knowledge comes from her experiences traveling the world. The Lotus Journal provides a platform for Riley to share her passions and encourage others to chase their dreams.