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  • Ahana Wali

Meditation Matters, and Here's Why

How often do you daydream in class, while your eyes momentarily flick up to the clock to check how much more time till class ends? I’m sure the answer varies, but I’m also willing to bet that the majority of Edgemont students are hoping for a break from the rigors of the academic day.

Reynolds from Harvard Summer School reports records some alarming data: “About 43 percent of teens surveyed in 2020 said their stress levels had gone up, and 45 percent said they had a hard time concentrating on schoolwork. Many reported feeling less motivated.” 

It is hard to deny that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic set us all back to some degree, as restlessness and brain fog during classes are far from foreign feelings. Although not much can be done to change the entire schedule of classes at our school, there is a potential solution: introduce meditation. By definition, meditation is the habitual practice of thinking deeply or focusing for a period of time, typically done in silence. Before you snicker, give meditation a chance! 

In the definition itself, it mentions “thinking deeply.” In the context of meditation, this refers to being present in the moment: to be aware of your surroundings, to be at peace with that awareness. Another phrase similar to being aware and present is to be “mindful.” Meditating in a moment of peace, as the deep breaths help your muscles slowly relax, will help your mind to think clearly. It is not embarrassing to admit that this sort of peaceful experience is desirable.

What benefits can meditation bring? The Mayo Clinic lists building skills to manage stress and emotions, increasing self-awareness, as well as boosting creativity and patience. Along with this, studies conducted by Harvard and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) presented results that support those same benefits. 

One may still question, “Who cares about self-awareness or stress management when there are multiple deadlines to meet and tests to be studying for?”. It might surprise you, however, that those same deadlines and tests could be better handled when approached with a more balanced mindset achieved through meditation. Also, much more work can be completed efficiently when you are able to prioritize the important tasks over the menial, a skill that mindfulness allows. 

Along with all said academic benefits that meditation brings, it also gives us a chance to be real with ourselves. That moment of silence is intimate; our thoughts are the only voice we hear and/or see at that moment, not on display for anybody else. That moment of peace invites a wave of calm to wash over tired minds.

How does one actually practice mindfulness and meditation, let alone incorporate it into their daily lives? There are far too many websites and articles that talk about the “right way” to meditate, but they are super deceiving. Everyone meditates in his or her own unique way, similar to how everyone’s mind and heart functions in its own way. There is no way that there can be a specific set of steps that all humans are supposed to be able to follow with guaranteed results. What might work greatly for some might backfire for others, so it is much better to have several options at one’s disposal. 

To meditate, all that is required is a period of time to yourself, no distractions nor interruptions, and a space for you to think clearly and mindfully. The rest is up to you, how you want to heal, relax, or help yourself focus. Some simple examples include a sort of activity similar to puzzle making, mindlessly doodling, gardening, doing the chores, and maybe even bringing in some yoga for the “full body” experience. 

A style more personal to me is by journaling my thoughts. Just a few words on paper goes a surprisingly long way when helping with releasing stress. It is an excellent way to unload your thoughts and prevent them from swirling around in the back of your mind, ready to distract you whenever it is most inconvenient. 

One of the “easiest” methods is to set time aside during the day to just sit down and close your eyes. That might be tricky for some people, especially if they get fidgety and irritated by the lack of achieving a quick sense of spiritual mind and body connectedness. I know this, because I can speak from experience. 

I must admit: I don’t maintain a fixed routine to meditate, but if there’s anything I have learned, it is that meditation is forgiving, and the purpose of this article is not a hypocritical one – far from it. 

Personally, I want change – in my life and for the rest of us – in the form of a life with less stress and overwhelming feelings. Fortunately, I can see that meditation will get me there. It is unlikely that deep breathing and affirmations will completely cure symptoms of chronic stress, but it at least helps a person to get through the day and eventually the week and beyond, when practiced consistently. It will not just help me, but many, many others, too. Ultimately, our community could work together to dash the notion that meditation is far from practical and to familiarize ourselves with the methods to start to practice it. 

The suggestions is at least worth a shot to deal with a very mutual and relatable problem. You can benefit if you just spare a bit of your time and let meditation work its magic.


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