As I am wrapping up my sophomore year of college, life seems to be moving faster than I imagined. Especially in a year where the pandemic has challenged us all through online learning and social isolation, things are left feeling a bit unfinished. This got me thinking about how I could be more present in every moment despite it not being the most enjoyable year.
I decided it was finally time to try meditation.
I knew I needed something that would hold me accountable, so I decided to turn meditating into one of my final projects. The project would be an experiment to see if I noticed a difference in my productivity and ability to focus in class. Since I was a beginner at meditating, I decided to use an app called Insight Timer where I could follow guided meditations. I kept a log of how I felt after every meditation to see what styles worked for me and which ones didn't. I meditated at different times throughout the day to see how that affected my mood. At the end of the two weeks, I reflected upon what I had learned from meditating for two weeks straight.
Overall, meditating every day for two weeks greatly impacted my stress levels. Whenever I felt overwhelmed by school or other aspects of life, I turned to meditation. I felt a significant difference in my mood after meditating, giving myself the ability to hit pause on everything going on around me. It became most helpful on days where my classes were extremely close together, requiring me to take notes for over two hours straight. Rather than using my break between classes to scroll through Instagram, I would find a ten-minute meditation to reset. I also found that meditating right after I woke up or right before bed helped me set a good start to my day or have an incredible night's sleep. Ultimately, meditation helped me feel more aware of my thoughts, emotions, and actions.
In terms of productivity, meditation really helped me refocus my energy on school since most of us are doing everything in one space this year. On days where I had to eat, sleep, and work all in my dorm room, I definitely needed that time to meditate and change my space to fit my needs. I felt that meditating before class also gave me a chance to disassociate from any distractions going on around me and focus my energy on class. Meditation and focus are especially critical this year since we can have our cameras off and are the only ones holding ourselves accountable for paying attention. Feeling present in and out of class has been extremely beneficial to me.
As I continue on with my meditation journey, I remind myself of some critical lessons. For one: meditation is a long-term process. There is no way that I could pick up meditation one day and be an expert, so I have to be patient with myself. Some tools that helped me do this were guided meditations that brought my focus back to my breath. I also found that keeping a log helped me keep track of my progress, and I slowly built up the length of my meditations. I have also learned that continuing meditation into my regular routine is my choice and I am the only one who can force myself to do that. Based on what I was able to accomplish in the past two weeks, I definitely will continue to meditate and encourage others to try it out as well!