By Taylor Girtman
For several nights, I was having the worst time falling asleep — and loud neighbors and looming assignments were not helping matters. I remembered back in high school, I would use a white noise machine to help concentrate on late night papers, and it actually helped. So I searched for a white noise app to block noise and and calm my night stresses. I came across an app with a variety of natural sounds along with a multitude of different meditation sessions. Out of curiosity I opened a sleeping session and listened to the 10-minute recording. Some parts of it were a little too solemn for my tastes — however, it helped me fall asleep that night.
The next day I played around with the app and discovered breathing sessions where you inhaled, held your breath and then exhaled for as little or as long as you wished. I did this for a few minutes and surprisingly I felt instantly at peace (likely because I was procrastinating and stressed about finishing a paper).
The app I use has a setting to create reminders to meditate each day. Since I had already completed a few sessions and enjoyed them, I figured I could take a few minutes out of my busy day to spend alone and clear my mind.
Now, every day at 2 p.m., since early January, I spend a few minutes in silence – just breathing.
I am not the type of person to make resolutions, especially ones involving physical activity, but I set a goal of spending at least two minute a day meditating. When I see my “calmness reminder” I now get excited to do nothing – no working, no talking, no stressing, nothing! I never knew how much I needed to do nothing, but after each session I become a calmer, more productive version of myself.
Though there are types of meditating that include someone verbally calming you, I personally prefer spending time focusing on the air entering and leaving my lungs; its simplicity is comforting. There are countless benefits to your mental health from meditating, and research backs them up.
1. Physical health improvements
Not only does mediation balance your mental health, but it can reap physical benefits as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, some research links meditation to decreased effects of high blood pressure, headaches, chronic pain and heart disease. Though research is still working to fully support these beliefs, meditation is a great support to regular medical treatments.
2. Better quality of life
Incorporating meditation into your daily routine could also improve your quality of life. According to a study on the connection between meditation habits and their effects, “longer years of meditation practice predicted higher levels of psychological/spiritual quality of life.”
Conversely, spending too much time each day meditation could have adverse effects. Finding the perfect balance of time spent meditating could make you a happier, more successful person.
3. Alone time
Between classes, internships and other responsibilities, a few minutes alone to collect thoughts and literally catch your breath are necessary. Dedicated meditating time allows college students to enjoy some alone time without the opinions of friends or nagging of family. Spending time alone can be fun and is rewarding after a long day of socializing.
As a self-proclaimed workaholic, meditation has brought so much to my life and hopefully these long-term effects kick in soon. It may not be for everyone, but there’s no harm in spending a few minutes each day (maybe even today?) finding the best you through meditation.