Opening Your Mind to Meditation

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Opening Your Mind to Meditation

Art credits to Karen Fung!

Art credits to Karen Fung!

Art credits to Karen Fung!

Art credits to Karen Fung!

Diya Kulkarni ‘20

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Numerous studies have shown that positive effects of meditation are plentiful when practiced routinely and with correct guidance. Studies have shown that daily meditation practice can greatly increase positive thinking and overall happiness at school amongst students. Some results have shown that students’ test scores increase as a result of meditation. As a result, teachers and school districts are also advocating to teach meditation in their schools in order to reduce stress and anxiety within the classroom.

The benefits of meditation are infinite, and can be as simple as concentrating on your breathing or focusing on the little things around you. Being mindful of the little things make it easier for one to be satisfied in everyday life. It allows one to savor every second in the present, rather than feeling regret for past events or anxious for future ones. Additionally, mediation can be used as preparation for adversities in everyday life. Scientists have also discovered that meditation can positively affect one’s physical health. It relieves stress which can help with heart diseases, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems, and hypertension. Recently, psychiatrists and psychotherapists have turned to a lot of meditation-based techniques before prescribing drugs to their clients. These professionals have said the results they have received are much more efficient than anything they have seen before.

A public school in Dallas, Texas has been incorporating mindfulness and meditation into their school schedule and has tracked students’ progress so far. The students have displayed many positive effects such as better memory, ability to handle stress better, better organization skills and higher test scores. Ninety-five percent of the students in that school reported that the daily mindful practice has or can potentially have improved the atmosphere of their classes as a whole. Almost half of the students believed they saw drastic improvements in their moods. Furthermore, the teachers who have practiced mindfulness along with their students have become more creative and patient in their teaching style.

Meditation can change a person’s lifestyle drastically if they have the proper tools to efficiently practice, many of which are accessible through technology. Some free mindfulness apps for those starting to meditate include Insight Timer, Aura, Omvana, and Calm. These apps have received great reviews and allow for both busy students and adults to take some time out of their day to focus on themselves. The apps also have thousands of recordings of instructors guiding meditation sessions directed toward specific topics such as compassion, nature or stress relief. There are many other techniques that are very easy to learn if the technological approach is not appealing. Simple things can go a long way such as solely focusing on each of your five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound) for a short time. Another technique is simply sitting quietly, focusing on your breathing or a “mantra”, and keeping your mind clear of any negative thoughts. It is important to not get frustrated if your mind constantly wanders but to calmly refocus your conscience on yourself and breathing. If you cannot take out time in your day to practice mindfulness, paying attention to your surroundings is a great way to stay in the present. Asa Faherty ‘20 comments, “a difficult part of practicing mindfulness was that on certain days I did not feel like sitting down and trying to be more in tune with myself and the world around me.” However, professionals highly recommend trying to overcome such restlessness as it usually leads to better self-awareness and relaxation.

For Ridge students,  it is very easy to become wrapped up in the stresses of academics and extracurricular commitments. One of Ridge’s English teachers, Mr. Pernice, has begun integrating mediation sessions into his classes. When students were asked their opinions on meditation mostly positive feedback was given. Neha Razak ‘20 states “it helps with staying relaxed in the midst of a stressful day of school and I am very happy some of my teachers have implemented it into our classes.”  Mr. Pernice is also the advisor of a new club called Club Chill which meets to practice meditation techniques. If students took out just five minutes a day to practice mindfulness, Ridge High School would definitely be a much safer and positive environment.

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