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I have a confession to make: I stress way too much, and I know it. But it’s hard to ease my stress and anxiety levels when I have a billion things on my mind at a time. That’s where meditation comes in. But before trying it out, I had always thought of meditation as some mumbo jumbo practice that involved sitting still for an ungodly amount of time. But as my stress and anxiety levels increased, I knew I needed something to help me relax. And let’s face it – life is incredibly stressful. But no matter how much stress we experience, we shouldn’t have to feel swept into the fast-paced hustle culture that’s happening around us.

woman meditating with dog beside her
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I first tried meditation during my junior year of high school. With AP exams, meaningless high school drama, and extracurricular activities stressing me out to the max, I needed change. And it just so happened that change came as sitting down on my bedroom floor and following a 10 minute guided meditation video on YouTube for the first time. And I’ll admit – I felt nothing at first. I plopped down on my floor, put my headphones in, and tried to pay attention to the calming voice that was talking me through my thoughts. But after that first guided meditation, I didn’t feel any different. And that’s okay!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from meditating, it’s that the entire practice is a process. It’s not a one-and-done type of thing, but something that needs effort. So while this first instance didn’t work for me, the second time relaxed me a little more. The difference was insane as I stuck with meditation and incorporated it into my morning and nightly routines. I came out of each guided meditation feeling refreshed, mindful, and optimistic!

neon sign in greenery
Photo by Max Van Den Oetelaar from Unsplash

Meditation revolves around being completely aware and focused on your breath to relax the mind and calm the body. It allows you to listen to your body and acknowledge any areas that might feel strained. Once you hone in on those areas, you can learn how to let that tension go. The same thing applies to your mind. You might have racing thoughts and find it impossible to let go of them, but meditation helps you acknowledge and appreciate your wandering brain. Rather than ignoring the stressors or anxieties you might feel in the moment, meditation teaches you to accept those thoughts for what they are. This kind of mindfulness got me through my midterms and finals last quarter, and I know it’ll continue to help me navigate our stressful world.

So, I have another confession to make: I stress way too much, but I also have learned how to use meditation to combat that. Since finding a way to practice mindfulness and anchor myself, I’ve never felt more ready to take on anything life throws my way.

Catalina is currently a first-year English major at University of California, Davis. Her interests include watching Studio Ghibli movies, reading fantasy novels, listening to Broadway musicals, and cooking with her family. After graduation, Catalina would like to become a high school English teacher and share her love of storytelling with her future students. :)
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