It’s a known fact that high school students experience a lot of stress. This could be blamed on balancing grades, sports, and maintaining a social life (even on the Internet, too), and these factors can create a lot of noise in both the literal and psychological sense. But how can one eliminate this noise? An effective solution may just be to shut the mind up. Yes--by quieting the mind, through meditation.
Meditation, as in what the monks do? Yes, this activity, or rather a state of physical inactivity, is usually associated with the ancient practice of Buddhist monks. But this isn’t limited to the strictly spiritual; it can be for anyone who wishes to focus and quiet the mind, with the ultimate goal of reaching a state of awareness and calm.
Sound crazy? Some even compare it to the benefits of physical exercise, such as Dr. Hedy Kober, a neuroscientist who studies the effects of meditation at Yale University.
"It did to my mind what going to the gym did to my body -- it made it both stronger and more flexible,” said Kober. And that’s exactly what it is: mind-training.
Studies have shown that meditation has effectively helped to improve stress levels and even assist in the recovery process of addicts and eating disorder patients. But how does a good dose of sitting still do all of this?
It’s the science behind it. The act of meditation actually affects the neural circuits of the brain, which is what changes the way humans respond to different situations. Studies have also shown that meditation has allowed blood vessels to dilate, which in turn reduces stress hormones.
Besides the health benefits, the act of quieting “mind chatter” that goes on in everyday brain activity can allow thoughts and ideas to surface more smoothly, producing more access to creativity. This can be an extremely valuable trait to have during many situations, especially when writing that last-minute English paper, avoiding that dreaded writer’s block.
But for the majority of those who still aren’t on the monk-level of inner-calm, it’s hard to know where to start. While there is not an exact blueprint for finding peace, here are some steps to start:
Those are the basic steps of meditation, but there are no exact steps to achieving proper meditation. You may or may not feel that supposed sense of calm, but like anything, meditation takes practice. Visualization is just one form of meditation. Whatever works to quiet your mind while retaining focus, do it. Just be aware of yourself and your mental cache.
Meditation doesn’t stop at its formal practice of it, either. Mindfulness can be practiced at all times of the day. When you’re stressed, stop and take some time to breathe. When you’re eating, be aware of what you’re putting into your body, and check yourself to see if you are full. This can all be incorporated into your practice of self-awareness.
Try meditation: it may just help clear your mental noise, or maybe even break some bad habits, or provide you with some last-minute essay inspiration. Tap into your inner monk!