As I sit in my bed wondering how I’m going to find the time to go to class, go to work, do homework, exercise, eat, maintain social interaction and let alone pee, I hear Queen’s “Under Pressure” play on a continuous loop in my mind. There it is. That familiar burden that every college student faces: pressure. It can be relentless and consuming, refusing to lighten up. When facing this pressure, one has two options. You can either run from it or face it head on. While the first option seems the easiest, it is also the least rewarding and beneficial. When confronted with stress, we are forced to partake in self-reflection and evaluation. We find out what our limits are, and then push them.
If we do not have a healthy way to cope with stress, we begin to feel overwhelmed, and may turn to other unhealthy coping mechanisms that will harm much more than they will help. Rather than turning to negative distractions, training and taking control of one’s mind helps to eliminate the stress disrupting our everyday lives. This comes from the practice of meditation. To put it simply, meditation is an act of reflection that allows for someone to find stillness and higher consciousness. While the concept seems rather simple, the actual process can be slightly more complex. However, along with experience, there are techniques you can follow to assist you on your path to meditation.
First and foremost, it is important to analyze and identify what it is that you are feeling, and what the source of that feeling is. If the feeling is anxiety, then you must reflect on what is happening in your life that is causing you to feel anxious. If the answer is overwhelming schoolwork and responsibility, then you can focus on calming yourself so that you may find ways to manage and organize this stress. After you have discovered what it is that has brought you to meditation, you should settle yourself and find your ideal setting. I have found that it is easiest to reach relaxation when surrounded by beauty. Lucky for us, we attend one of the most beautiful schools in the nation. On one side, you’ve got the mountains, providing a sense of majesty and stability. On the other side, you have the ocean. Pristine, mysterious and powerful, meditating by the ocean can be a surreal and magical experience. Or, if you prefer structure and routine, taking five minutes out of your day to meditate in your room might be what’s right for you. Regardless of where you choose to place yourself, get comfortable, find your center and just breathe. If you are religious, say a prayer of comfort and gratitude. If you are spiritual, repeat a mantra to illuminate your chakras as you set your intention for the day. If you don’t really have any particular beliefs, but want to feel the serenity and tranquility that meditation provides, quiet your mind as you acknowledge your accomplishments and qualities. The purpose of meditation is to do the most natural thing Homo sapiens do, and that is to breathe. By taking five minutes out of your day to dedicate purely to yourself, you are provided with some necessary relief so that you may use your remaining energy to conquer the pressures of the day.
Another important aspect of meditation is finding your breath. While breathing may appear to require little to no attention due to the fact that it is necessary for our survival, focusing on your breathing can help ease your mind into a more serene and relaxed state. As you unwind into a comfortable posture, observe your breath. Note the pace, consistency and length of each inhale and each exhale. After you’ve spent some time on the actual flow of the air, switch your attention to your body. Notice the movement of your chest and abdomen as it rises and falls with each exchange. Feel the sensation as the air passes through your nostrils and settles into your being. While this exercise may feel redundant, it helps to quiet the mind in a less forced manner. As the breath becomes deeper and more intensified, you will notice that it is also less frequent, requiring less effort on your part.
Meditation provides relief in many different aspects of human life, but it can be especially helpful in times of stress. College is hard … there’s definitely no getting around that. However, it is also supposed to be some of the best years of our lives. While stress is just a part of the deal, meditation can help us to work through and manage that stress in order to have a more enjoyable and positive college experience.
Allie Lebos hopes reading this opinion piece will ease your mind for once.