Is Meditation Right for You?March 6, 2019
By Sydney Glass
March is officially here, and for many of us, that means that midterms and mid-semester projects have also arrived. With so much happening, it is easy to place our self-care on the back burner or forget about it entirely. I am here to tell you from personal experience that you will often function best when you take time out for your self-care. One way in which I do this is through meditation. While there are a number of meditation practices, I will share with you the two popular forms of mindfulness training and the reasons that I recommend everyone try them at least once.
Types of Mindfulness Training:
- Focused-attention Meditation: This form of meditation is great for when you want and/or need to tune out the distractions around you. Whether you are a full-time or part-time graduate student, you often have multiple assignments due at the same time along with a list of engagements, and it can be difficult to know when and where to start. By taking a minute to focus on a specific object, image, or sound, you can center your thoughts and increase your overall concentration and productivity, allowing you to accomplish more in a timely manner.[i]
- Open-monitoring Meditation: Open-monitoring meditation deals more with increasing one’s sense of awareness in relation to yourself and the people and world around you. When you open your mind and allow yourself to be present in the moment, you are able to notice the complexity of your thoughts and emotions. This form of meditation has been linked to increased creativity, which can be beneficial both in grad school and the workplace. The key to it is letting your guard down and allowing your mind to roam free of judgment.[ii]
Reasons You Should Try It:
- Benefits for Your Health:Because of the demands of graduate school, grad students often experience high levels of psychological stress, which can become chronic if left untreated. Through meditation, grad students can learn to manage their stress by improving their response to stressors. Research has shown that this can reduce stress hormone levels, decrease the heart rate, and lower blood pressure and sugar levels, thus returning the body to equilibrium.[iii] In addition, repeated meditation has shown signs of boosting the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies that fight infections and improving the function of other body systems.[iv] So, if you want to increase your chances of not getting the flu this season, I would suggest you take a moment to meditate.
- Benefits for Your Graduate Education:I think it goes without saying that as grad students, we are always looking for ways to improve our academic performance. Meditation makes this easy as it is affordable (it’s free!), convenient (you can do it anywhere!), and you don’t need to prepare or bring any additional resources (just bring your mind!). Students who meditate have found that they have greater efficiency and are able to complete tasks quicker. This is great for those moments when you are crunched for time and are working on several assignments or are writing a paper the night before it’s due. In addition, meditation improves your quality of work through increased memory recall, which can be beneficial when you are taking a test or giving a class presentation. Lastly, those who meditate have expressed an increase in their confidence and abilities as a student.[v] How many of us have struggled to complete a project or paper simply because we did not feel that we were capable? While meditation may not solve all of your problems, I do believe that it will increase your self-appreciation and put you in the mindset to believe in yourself, knowing that you have made it to this point for a reason.
If you want to learn more about meditation and the resources available at Mason, make sure you visit the links below.
I hope that after reading this post, you all will consider meditation as a way to decompress from your studies and daily life and remember that even if you only have a minute, it’s your minute.
“There is enough time for self-care. There is not enough time to make up for the life you’ll miss by not filling yourself up.” – Jennifer Williamson
This blog post has been edited and updated to reflect current changes in information.
Edited by Sydney Glass, 03/16/2020
[i] Elizabeth Scott, “How to Get Started with a Focused Meditation Practice,” Verywell Mind, last modified July 31, 2018, https://www.verywellmind.com/practice-focused-meditation-3144785
[ii] Timothy Burgin, “The Best Meditation Technique for Boosting Creativity,” Yoga Basics, last modified June 12, 2018, http://www.yogabasics.com/connect/yoga-blog/best-meditation-for-creativity/
[iii] Deepak Chopra, “7 Ways Meditation Can Help You Reduce and Manage Stress,” The Chopra Center, last modified 2019, https://chopra.com/articles/7-ways-meditation-can-help-you-reduce-and-manage-stress
[iv] Jennifer Frye, “Meditation Boosts Your Immune System,” mindbodygreen, last modified September 21, 2012, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6218/Meditation-Boosts-Your-Immune-System.html
[v] Appachanda Thimmaiah, “The Mind/Body Connection for Students: Reaching & Staying in the Zen Zone,” Community for Accredited Schools, last modified 2019, https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/zen-lifestyle-in-school/