Take a Breath: Meditation Throughout the Semester

Ben Coleman

Perspective Editor

Since starting your Spring semester, we are sure that you have had some time to settle into your new classes and personal schedules. At the beginning of a new semester, it can be a struggle to find out how you will get everything done in the short twenty-four hours we have. These thoughts can cause an overwhelming feeling which in turn, can result in stress and other negative feelings. Since our first post on January 17th, we thought about some more ideas to tandem off of our initial post of Dealing with Stress at the start of a New Semester. Throughout this week’s article, we will talk about various meditation tips and their benefits for you!

  • The first meditation tip we look at is focused breathing. Focused breathing is one of the most proven ways to meditate and entails finding a quiet and serene place to be alone. Doing this for a simple 30 seconds can transform your autonomic nervous system which controls not just your heart rate, and blood pressure, but also your digestion. Follow these steps:
  • Take a seat and keep your back straight.
  • When getting into the “zone” of your breathing, be sure to “focus” on your breath. Especially during the gaps between exhaling to inhaling.
  • While doing this, try to be still and breathe softly. Breathing softly will prevent your body and mind from wandering.
  • Don’t get frustrated if your mind wanders. Over time, your body will learn to slow down which will make it easier to focus on the task at hand.
  • Another very effective breathing technique is called “box breathing”. This type of breathing consists of inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds, and holding for 4 seconds. Doing this repeatedly for a minimum of 10 times helps to stimulate a nerve otherwise known as the vagus nerve. This helps to lower the heart rate and removes the body from the fight-or-flight response. This is a very effective way to deal with physical and mental responses to anxiety and stress and has been a proven way to quickly change your feelings.
  • Mindfulness meditation is another way of creating a solstice in your mind. This type of meditation is recommended to be done while doing a repetitive task. Such as folding clothes or doing dishes. During each fold or each repetition of the activity, focus on the transitions of breaths that you are taking. For example, when you grab a dish, inhale, once you place the dish in the dishwasher, exhale. This is also a sure way to quickly calm some of your nerves.
  • Sometimes it is also okay to just “do nothing”. After a busy day of school and sports, it can be very beneficial to pause for an hour or two and focus on a different task. Something more or less that is mindless. During the task or sedentary moment, you can find yourself taking a few deep breaths which will help draw your mind away from the stress or struggles that you may be experiencing.
  • We can mention many ways to meditate, but one of the last ways we really connect is to experience nature by taking a walk. This is referred to as “active meditation”. Active meditation can be as short or as long as you want. Finding a path through the woods, or maybe a walkway is the first step towards actively getting rid of your stress or anxiety. When starting your active meditation, be sure to focus on the physical feeling of each step and then transition it into the sights, sounds, and smells. This will help the body fall into a rhythm. This has also been a proven way to boost your mood throughout the day in a short amount of time. Especially for individuals who have been sitting for long periods throughout the day. This can be done even by walking back to your dorm or apartment! Aside from walking; cooking, showering, and even cleaning can all be pieces of active meditation.

Meditation in the grand scheme of things can improve your health tenfold. By practicing meditation for just a few minutes each day, you can see big improvements. Meditation can not only decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress-related pain, but it can also improve your ability to focus and increase your attention span. Meditation has also been proven to better help regulate hormones, sleep, inflammation, hypertension, and especially emotions.

During these next few weeks until Spring Break, try to focus on creating a minimum of 5 minutes per day to simply meditate. You may be surprised how you feel afterward! Throughout the remainder of this semester, the Candor will continue to look at supportive articles to better provide support to the students of Benedictine.

Keep soaring, Eagles!

(Note: The advice given is from Candor writers, student-to-student, and does not reflect the opinion of the university).