Finals week is one of the most stressful weeks of the semester. Projects are piling up, new information is thrown at you in every class, and your workload shows no signs of lightening up until the last exam is taken.
It can be difficult to not let the chaos of it all stress you out. But if you don’t take a few minutes out of your day to relax and breathe, you will burn out. Luckily, you don’t have to stray far from your dorm room to find peace of mind. In fact, you can do it right there. Here’s how.
Benefits of Meditation
Why Meditation is Important
Over the years, meditation has quickly grown in popularity. And for good reason. But what is it exactly? For most people, the word conjures images of people peacefully sitting on yoga mats or relaxing in temples far away in exotic countries. Essentially, it is simply the process of training your mind to focus. It can also be done to help you learn how to increase your awareness of your surroundings. People who regularly meditate also report that they have developed a more positive mood and outlook, better self-discipline, and healthier sleep patterns.
Here are some of the top benefits that people reap from meditation:
- Stress relief: Individuals who experience high levels of stress tend to suffer from disrupted sleep patterns, depression, increased blood pressure, and fatigue. Multiple studies on adults who regularly practice meditation found that their inflammation levels from stress were reduced.
- Anxiety control: Anxiety, as well as symptoms of anxiety including obsessive-compulsive behaviors, phobias, and social discomfort, can be alleviated by meditation.
- Improved Emotional Health: Many people who have started meditation found that their outlook on life and their self-image improved. One study that examined 18 volunteers and their journey with meditation over three years found that they experienced a long-term decrease in depression. This is likely because meditation decreases the inflammatory chemicals that can negatively impact one’s mood.
- Increased Self-Awareness: Meditation often helps people identify thoughts that may be harmful to their emotional well-being. But as you get better at identifying these thoughts, you can divert your focus away from them and prevent them from negatively affecting you.
- Longer Attention Span: Continually practicing focused-attention meditation strengths and trains the mind’s attention span. It’s like weight lifting for your mind. For instance, another study found that human resources who regularly practiced meditation were able to stay focused for longer periods of time.
- Improved Ability to Fight Addiction: Meditation has been shown to improve one’s mental discipline. This, in turn, can increase one’s self-control and awareness of addiction-triggering behaviors. Learning how to redirect your attention and control your willpower can help you manage cravings.
- Decreased Blood Pressure: Meditation doesn’t benefit your mental health alone. It can actually reduce the strain placed on your heart from stress. Meditation relaxes the tension in your blood vessels and nerve signals that are responsible for coordinating heart function.
Step 1: Create the Right Ambience
Lighting is Key to Creating a Peaceful Atmosphere
Creating good lighting inside a dorm room can be challenging. Most rooms only have one or two windows, so they can often feel dim and stuffy. Sometimes the lighting in the room can also be too bright and jarring to focus in. Placing several dorm lights around the room is perfect for creating the right balance of lighting to put you in a meditative mood.
You want the lighting in the room to help you feel relaxed and secure. Depending on your preferences, you may want it lighter or darker. It is easier to control the room’s overall lighting by turning off your lights, opening your windows, and utilizing your dorm lights. You may need to experiment with different set-ups before you find one that is right for you.
Step 2: Clear Up the Clutter in Your Room
Keep Your Room Clean and Tidy Before Starting
Clutter is distracting. So before you start, put away your textbooks, set aside your notebooks, and hide your electronics. It may be tempting to check your phone for texts or to just hop on your laptop for a second, but this will only impede your ability to focus. You can keep decorations up, like flowers or a favorite poster, but try to keep your room as neat as possible. This will make it easier to focus when you begin your meditation session.
Step 3: Create a Playlist of Music and Mantras to Listen to
Music Can Be a Great Guide During Your Meditation
In the past, people would usually meditate in silence. They may have turned on ambient background noise, but for the most part, they wouldn’t turn any music on. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t plug in your headphones and turn on some soothing music. While some people may prefer the silence, others may find it uncomfortable or hard to focus.
We recommend trying out these types of music for your next meditation session:
- Indian Classical Music
- Gregorian Chants
- Sounds of Nature
- Classical Music
Obviously loud reggae music or rap isn’t going to help you concentrate. The types of sounds listed above will instead help you block out your surroundings and focus on your practice. There are also a variety of playlists and tracks that offer guided meditations for listeners. This can be especially helpful for you if you are a beginner and are having trouble focusing.
Step 4: Block Out Time to Meditate
Taking Even a Few Minutes Out of Your Day to Meditate Can Make a Huge Difference
As your workload continues to grow heavier, you are going to feel less and less interested in pulling yourself away from your textbooks. But by planning out your schedule, you will find that you have more time in the day than you think.
And you don’t have to meditate every day. While some people are able to fit in daily meditation, it is just not realistic for others such as a busy college student like yourself. Plus, many beginners start out by meditating for only three to five minutes. When you first start meditating, three minutes can feel like a long time. Therefore, it is important to start small so you are not easily discouraged and tempted to quit.
Try to meditate when your roommate is in class or away for a club meeting. Having another person in the room can be distracting, so try to do it when you are alone, if possible. You can also plan to meditate during your residence hall’s study hours so you don’t have to worry about loud floormates distracting you.
Step 5: Just Start
Starting Now Will Help You Create a Regular Meditation Routine
Trying new things can be daunting. If you have an overactive mind, the idea of sitting in silence with your thoughts can be especially intimidating. But the main purpose of meditation is to silence these unwanted thoughts and focus your attention on the present moment instead. If you need a sign to finally start practicing meditation, this is it.
Extra Tips for Meditating
Meditating Requires More Than Just Silently Sitting in Your Bedroom
Need some extra help getting into the groove? Remember these tips as you begin your session.
- Start in a relaxing position. You can sit upright on your bed or even lay across it.
- Close your eyes. If you need to, you can wear a mask over your eyes.
- Try repeating a single word or mantra. This will help you focus throughout your meditation.
- Breathe naturally, but continue to focus on your breathing and how it moves the body.
As you continue to practice, you will find it easier to meditate for longer periods of time.
Setting aside time to nurture your mental health is important for both your college years and your post-graduate life. Meditation can be extremely effective in reducing stress and anxiety. This is going to be especially helpful during finals week. What are your favorite methods for stress relief? Let us know in the comments below!