EXAMS! EXAMS! EXAMS!
It’s like an alarm clock—you know, like the one you sleep through during your morning lectures? But, even when you put it on snooze, it keeps going off, non-stop, and it lasts for the entire exam season! That’s exactly why I’ve always dreaded this time of year—I’m stressed, worried and have quite an unhealthy relationship with chocolate (yes, it’s one of my many weaknesses).
So, this exam season, I decided to try something new—something I hadn’t considered. I decided to try meditation.
And, I thought I’d share my story with you, because even though the process wasn’t pretty, the results were amazing. Hopefully, I can inspire you to take some actions yourself to handle the daily stresses that come with student life.
How I Incorporated Mindfulness into College Life
Honestly, before writing this article, I was very skeptical of meditation.
Picturing myself sitting cross-legged on the floor for hours of self reflection didn’t appeal to me, AT ALL! In fact, I couldn’t think of anything worse!
As a financially strapped college student and a meditation newbie, I was looking for an affordable alternative to an expensive class focused merely on breathing. Then, I found this fantastic app, Insight Timer. With Insight Timer, you can choose the category that’s right for you. From sleep-focused meditation to lessons on stress avoidance, there’s options available for everyone. Not only that, you can connect with friends, participate in groups, look up different instructors, and much more. In many ways, it’s like a special society for the meditation community, offering you the ability to connect with like-minded people all over the world (6 million in fact).
So, I gave it a try…
and started out with the course, “Learn How to Meditate in 7 Days.” The first 12-minute class focused on breathing exercises, which required me to sit down in a comfortable position and close my eyes. Who would have thought sitting, breathing, and closing your eyes could be so hard? Let me tell you—it was difficult AF!
In fact, just sitting there for 12 minutes brought up all these questions:
“Am I doing this right?”
“Wonder how long I’ve been sitting here?” (probably 60 seconds in)
“I should do laundry today.”
“Is that my phone vibrating?”
“Did I remember to feed the cat?”
“I could reeeeeally go for some chocolate right now!”
The amount of thoughts that went through my head in those 12 minutes—I mean, OMG! How much can one person have going on inside their head?! Dude, RELAX!
After the first session, I was discouraged with myself. My mind strayed from one topic to the next, jumping back and forth between feelings and memories. While this is perfectly normal, I felt disappointed in myself. But, I realized that’s what happens when you learn a new skill or develop a new habit—it’s a learning process. I knew that if I gave meditation another try, it would be easier. And, I knew if I kept trying, I would one day master the skill. So, I promised myself to at least get through the seven sessions.
As time progressed, I started to get more in touch with my thoughts and feelings. Throughout the seven day program, I was guided through breathing techniques and exercises on staying focused. While I continue to ask myself random questions, I’ve stopped being so skeptical.
Although uncomfortable, sitting quietly for these 12 minutes per day actually helped me focus and calmed me down, leaving me with a feeling of accomplishment. Also, knowing I had a break from a busy day was a big reward for me—one I looked forward to.
While I don’t meditate every day, I still look forward to my sessions. Sometimes I use a guided course, but not always. Other times, I just choose some music and do the breathing exercise I learned from my very first session. Even if I only have five minutes, it’s enough to calm me down and get my thoughts right.
So, if you’re lacking sleep, having problems concentrating or are anxious over an upcoming exam, why not try meditation? Coming from someone who didn’t really see the benefits of meditation, I can now say I was completely wrong. While you may struggle in the beginning, it’s like any other skill—you’ll improve over time. The busier we get, the more important meditation becomes.
If you’d like to share your personal experience with meditation, feel free to leave us a comment.