Weekly Wellness: Benefits of meditating

If you’re into that Zen lifestyle or if you’ve seen any self-care tips online, you are probably familiar with meditation.  (Sebastian Wiertz/Flickr, Creative Commons)

If you’re into that Zen lifestyle or if you’ve seen any self-care tips online, you are probably familiar with meditation. (Sebastian Wiertz/Flickr, Creative Commons)

If you’re into that Zen lifestyle or if you’ve seen any self-care tips online, you are probably familiar with meditation. Meditation is essentially an approach to changing the mind. While going to the gym and exercising trains our body and makes it healthier, meditation does so for our mind. It’s a Buddhist concept that is said to be related to “sports,” meaning it’s a lot of activities combined, not just one single practice. When you hear the word meditation, you might just think of sitting still with your eyes closed and breathing steadily. However, there’s actually a lot more to it; there’s even a couple different types of meditation.

The first type of meditation I’ll discuss is concentration meditation. This involves focusing on one single aspect or thought and entails “following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong or counting beads on a mala.” This is probably what most people think of when they think of stereotypical meditation. It requires intense focus and determination to achieve the goal you’ve set or the point you’re repeating in your mind.

The second type of meditation is mindfulness meditation. This “encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises”.

I’ve found that this mindful approach works better on a day to day basis because it involves being aware of your thoughts and pondering what they could really mean. As humans, we’re not always conscious of the things our brains are processing or even the things that are bothering us. Busy and hectic schedules make it difficult to stay mindful and aware of our true goals and our overall purpose. Mindfulness meditation allows us to take some time and reflect. I would suggest doing this at least once a day, either right when you get up in the morning or before you go to bed at night.

Many people who practice meditation say it’s changed their lives and made them a more grounded, relaxed and conscious person. Some of the proven benefits are “lower blood pressure, improved blood circulation, lower heart rate, less perspiration, slower respiratory rate, less anxiety, lower blood cortisol levels, more feelings of well-being, less stress, deeper relaxation.” All of these sound pretty good considering we’re in college and most likely stressing about a lot of things.

Meditation relates to the nervous system and isn’t nearly as difficult or time consuming as one may think. All you have to do is sit or lay down, close your eyes, focus your attention on your breathing and try not to let your mind wander. I know it’s pretty much impossible to think about nothing, but if you become relaxed enough, you’ll realize you’re not really focusing on anything at all. As I said before, meditation can be extremely beneficial for college students; it will make your focus better and your mindset lighter.


Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at tessa.pawlik@uconn.edu.