Illustration by Raya Deussen

Gabriel’s Gains: meditation as a stress reliever

Whether you are struggling with social stress, catastrophic classwork or just adjusting to the “Pacific North-wet,” the academic year can churn out stress, unrest and bad vibes. However, with meditation, these melancholy moods can make way to a healthier, happier you. 

Unlike a large diet change, introducing a new hobby or just working out, meditation is not a “time-suck.” Meditation does not take large chunks of time out of your day or require a huge lifestyle change. However, it can still yield positive changes in your day-to-day life if done right. Including meditation in your daily routine can take as little as 15 minutes of your time. 

Meditation has a very high return on investment and should not be overlooked by any student or entrepreneur. According to a study published by the National Center of Biotechnical Information (NCBI), mindfulness meditation programs reduce anxiety and depression. Meditation can save you from a sad semester and improve your lifestyle.

A collection of 22 studies published by the NCBI show that kindness-based meditation (KBM) increases mindfulness, compassion and confidence and decreases depression. Overall, it was concluded that KBM benefits not only individuals but entire communities from its effects on social interaction and well-being. Meditation will not just improve you, it will help those around you.

There are plenty of different types of mediation: zen, metta, body-scan, Transcendental, mindfulness and the list could go on and on. The point is, no matter what problems you are facing, there is a very high chance that you could benefit from some form of meditation. I personally focus primarily on body-scan meditation, a form of meditation that has the performer focuses on how every part of your body is feeling and to release stress when it is felt.  

I spend 30 minutes a day, five days a week, paying careful attention to my body and the stress that it accumulates throughout the day. I relax every part of my body individually, beginning with my toes and work up to the top of my head. Once I have gone through every individual part of my body, I start paying attention to it as one unit. As a unit, I release any tension I might have missed while working my way up. 

For those of you that groaned at me spending 30 minutes meditating, that was not my starting point. I started with just three minutes and, over the course of a year, slowly worked up to 30 minutes. I am sure there are those who can jump right into the 30 minutes, but for those like me, do not be afraid to work up to it. We all start somewhere. 

I will recommend any beginners start with body-scan because it takes little instruction, can be done in a very short amount of time and does have study-proven benefits. However, for those with the initiative, I encourage researching the method of meditation that best addresses the stress and anxiety that may afflict you throughout this academic semester.

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