Stressed Out? Try This!

Starting a new semester of college is stressful to say the least. You’re trying to get all your textbooks and figure out what you need for class, and the work starts piling up quickly. Self-care and relaxation are critical for mental health, but how do you find time when you’re too busy to even watch your favorite show on Netflix? Good news! Meditation is a perfect way to calm down, and the best part is, it only takes 5 minutes out of your day. Or less!!!

Meditation has countless benefits. Not only does it almost instantly decrease stress, but it improves concentration, increases happiness, and increases self-awareness. It is the perfect way to practice mindfulness and draw yourself back to a centered sense of clarity. Meditating will encourage a healthy lifestyle and help you get in touch with your mind and spirit. Some research suggests it can even help with anxiety and depression, which are increasingly common among millennials. Worth a shot, right?

If you’ve never meditated before, the concept may sound difficult and abstract. Isn’t meditating about “clearing your mind”? And what does it even mean to "clear your mind"? I’ve always got a hundred and one things on my mind and they don’t just poof away because I tell them to. Yes, part of meditating is clearing your mind, but it is so much more than that. For me, it’s a way to find a temporary peace in a fast-paced, busy day. The world today is always on its feet going. Millions of things occur every second and you have access to all this information at your fingertips through social media and the internet. Life is no longer just about what’s happening to you anymore, it is about everything that is happening, everywhere, all the time. It can be incredibly rewarding to just take a few minutes of your day and let yourself check out for a moment. There are several different styles and approaches to meditating, but I’m going to share with you what works for me. I’m not a meditation expert, but I’ve been meditating for a few months now. This way is simple and easy for a beginner.

 

Here’s how:

  1. Find a comfortable, seated position. Don’t slouch, but don’t make yourself too stiff. I like to sit crisscross, with my hands in my lap, one on top of the other, palms facing up and thumbs pressed together. Some people put their hands on their knees as well, but it is whatever is most comfortable for you. Let yourself become as still as possible and try not to fidget. Take deep breaths into your belly.
  2. Close your eyes and focus on your breaths. This will help you clear your mind. Label your breaths in your head: “rising… falling… rising…falling…”
  3. Some other thoughts may start to pop in your head. The way I manage these is by labeling them and letting them drift away. For example, what is that noise in the hallway? “hearing… hearing… hearing...” What should I make for dinner? “Planning… planning… planning...” I can’t wait to see that new movie tomorrow. “Anticipating… anticipating… anticipating…” Once you have identified and labeled that thought, let it go and re-center your focus on your breath.

Now every once and a while, you may feel a piece of hair tickle your neck or start to get an itch on your back. First, see if you can resist the urge to move. Try labeling this sensation in your mind like you do with your thoughts. “Sensing… sensing… sensing...” If the feeling is still an issue and you simply can’t resist, slowly move to address to issue. Quick movements may stunt your experience, but if an itch starts to break your focus and create stress, it is OKAY to address it.

There is no secret to being finished, and ideally, that centered feeling will resonate with you throughout the rest of your day. Whenever your heart desires to, open your eyes and revel in that truly unique feeling of absolute peace.

Meditation gets easier the more you practice. Overtime, you may not even feel the urge to address that itch at all. If you can just take five minutes out of your day in the morning or evening, you can reap the many benefits of meditation. Set a timer (if you’d like), and let yourself have a few moments, just for you. I promise, it’s an experience worth having. If you master this way of meditating, I encourage you to further explore different types and get the most out of this wonderful practice.

 Well wishes to you, in loving kindness. Metta, always.