By Lily Suskind, Contributor
Advanced Placement tests, finals, college decisions. That list is only a start of stressful points over the final quarter of this year. Want to get ahead for what next year has in store and minimize anxiety? Try meditation!
Meditation: the act of gaining awareness and perspective through mindfulness. It may seem simple; you can add the word “mindful” to just about anything. But this awareness is like a muscle–you have to continue to work it to make it stronger. Personally, meditation has changed my life. I am no longer exclusively future-oriented. I can sit in a moment and not be pondering what homework I have left or how busy the rest of my day, week, and year are. Most importantly, I enjoy a moment while being attuned to myself and my surroundings. Carly Gillman ’23 says that “Meditation helps me put all my thoughts into perspective”.
Studies have repeatedly shown that practicing meditation has profound psychological benefits. According to research cited by Headspace, meditation reduces stress and people are able to focus more and less mind-wandering occurs. Also, people who practice meditation consistently are significantly less aggressive and more compassionate towards others and themselves. With more meditation comes physical effects, too. You may experience a slower heart rate and a more relaxed body, which helps one stay calm in intense emotional situations. A Payton student, Calliope Silverberg ’23, says that “Mediation is such a useful tool to stay calm and ground yourself. A lot of the time when I am anxious, I feel more distracted, disconnected, and disassociated. By mediating, I have gained tips and tricks that help me take a step back from my anxious thoughts or worries and, in that way, I can become more grounded in the present moment.”
You might be thinking, how do I begin meditating? It can be as simple as attending an enrichment or joining a new seminar. Payton had an enrichment focused on meditating this year called “Balancing Your Mind and Body: Meditation” with Ms. Catlin. Additionally, a few mindfulness seminars have been offered this year, such as Meditation & Self Care and Meditation. Additionally, enrichments like QST and tutoring can be used to listen to a guided meditation in between studying. These are easy ways to begin meditation without impacting your schedule too much.
You can also easily download a meditation app. I recommend Insight Timer. There are also many other options, like Calm, Headspace, Meditation Nest, and Breethe which are all offered on Apple and Android devices. You can even search for meditations on Youtube for free. Another important aspect of meditation is having a schedule. I suggest starting with one five-to-ten minute meditation every other day for two weeks and then reevaluate (but this is flexible and should align with your day-to-day life). As you build mastery with mindfulness, longer meditations will be easier.
The 21-22 school year is not over yet, which means more stress is inevitable. Give meditation a shot, it may change your life!