Benefits of Meditation and How You Can Start

Are you stressed about midterms? Learn to meditate!

Devin Oommen, Staff Writer

“Meditate” by RelaxingMusic is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

With midterms approaching, stress and anxiety is likely to be at a high for students soon. Students who find themselves feeling behind or stressed out may benefit from meditation. According to the Mayo Clinic, the possible benefits of meditation include increased mindfulness, patience and tolerance. 

There are many different ways to meditate, but if you are just starting it does not have to be too complicated. COD offers weekly meditation sessions virtually and in person on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Kate Szetela, manager of adjunct faculty support helps lead the meditation sessions on Wednesdays and Thursdays. In an interview, Szetela said that all students are welcome to drop in to the meditation sessions. Szetela says they don’t have to worry about whether or not they will be good at meditation to try it. 

It’s not like there’s a super right way to do it. That’s kind of the nice part about it is you can kind of learn from each other and ask questions if you want,” said Szetela. 

“It’s walk in. We do it that way because it’s casual so you don’t have to sign up or anything like that. If it fits your schedule that week you can come.” 

Szetela says that the sessions are broken up into 2- 30 minute sessions and students are welcome to stay for one or both sessions.  

COD offers self compassion meditation sessions virtually on Tuesdays from 9:00 to 9:30, mindfulness meditation virtually on Wednesdays from 11:00 to 12:00 and in person mindfulness meditation on Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:00 in BIC 3431.

I started meditating in 2017. In the beginning, I struggled to do it consistently but kept trying to make it a daily habit. Eventually I was meditating two times a day for a total of 40 minutes a day. I did that for almost an entire year. Before starting to meditate I used to find myself controlled by my emotions, especially when something made me angry. Through meditation, I was able to start to build patience to step back and separate myself from my emotions and thoughts. It helped me to focus and to be more present in my everyday life.

To get started on your own all you need is a quiet space with no distractions. If you can’t find, or would not prefer, a quiet space you can use an area with ambient or white noise, as long as you eliminate as many distractions as possible. Optimally, you should be sitting straight up in a chair. If you find you fall asleep while meditating you aren’t doing anything wrong. This is probably a sign you need more sleep! First, turn notifications on your phone off or to silent. Next, set a timer for 2 minutes (make sure that your timer’s alarm is something soft). Now, close your eyes and focus on your breath.

If it is your first time, you might have a lot of thoughts running through your mind. That is OK, and this is normal for first timers and long-time practitioners. When you find yourself thinking about something other than your breath, all you need to do is realize you got distracted, let the thoughts pass, return focus to your breathing and understand you can think about those thoughts that distracted you after.

To make it easier to focus on your breath, you can try to think about taking slow, deep breaths in and slow, deep breaths out. Imagine a timer in your head for 2 seconds while you’re breathing in and 2 seconds while you’re breathing out. Alternatively, you can focus on counting your breaths. A deep breath in is one, and the next deep breath out is two. Once you count to four, you can reset and start from one again.

By taking a little bit of time every day to do this, eventually you may find yourself more centered, less stressed, more patient and more focused.

If you find you enjoy meditating, you can try different methods such as transcendental meditation or guided meditation in a class or using an app like Headspace. 

Students who are interested can join the Tuesday self-compassion focused meditation session from 9:00 to 9:30 with this Zoom link.

Students can join the Wednesday mindfulness meditation from 11:00 to 12:00 with this Zoom link.