Get Quiet: The Benefits of Meditation for College Students



Get Quiet: The Benefits of Meditation for College Students

Lauren DiPiero

A few months ago, if someone asked me when I last sat down quietly for 10 minutes doing nothing, I wouldn’t have had a great answer. In fact, I wouldn’t have had an answer at all. Now, I’d tell you it was this morning or a few hours ago. Maybe that sounds like I’ve become less productive, but in actuality it’s because I’ve been working on becoming an even healthier person. Meditation is one of the simplest steps we can take in order to improve our overall well-being, but it comes along with many false assumptions– ones that hold people back from beginning to practice it. 

One of the most common misconceptions about meditation is that it requires a total silencing of the mind in order to become effective. If that was the case, someone with an overactive brain like me would be completely unable to meditate. Meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation, is centered around awareness. This does not mean blocking out thoughts entirely while meditating or trying to suppress any that come along. Effective meditation means recognizing when you’re feeling distracted, noticing a thought or emotion as it arises and developing the skill of simply labeling it and letting it pass by. Also, meditation does not require complete silence in general. One of the easiest ways to begin is to listen to guided meditation, which is often on meditation apps. In a guided meditation, a recorded voice guides listeners through the process and provides direction for acknowledgment or attention to the body and mind. 

Many also believe that meditation only impacts a person while he or she is meditating. However, meditation has been shown to improve overall mental health, concentration and relaxation. One of the greatest benefits I’ve noticed in myself since beginning to practice meditation is my newfound ability to recognize when I am feeling distracted or my thoughts are wandering. If I’m sitting in class and my thoughts drift to the future or another area of my life, I now realize that my attention is wavering much more easily, and I’m able to recognize this is occurring and redirect my attention to the lecture. Before I started meditation, I was much less aware of when I was becoming distracted and could likely sit through an entire class before realizing I had spent a large portion of the time thinking about other deadlines or responsibilities. 

As college students, our lives are full and the tasks within a day can feel daunting. It is easy to wake up and immediately find our brains spinning, thinking about all of our responsibilities for the day, all of our concerns and worries. Instead, consider starting the day with stillness and quiet. Allowing yourself to remain in the moment and direct your attention to the present rather than to the future sounds simple but is a profoundly valuable skill and a wonderful way of improving your entire life. Often, we are not in the present. We are considering the past or wondering about the future. Meditation is a reminder that reality is always the present, which is really one constantly fleeting moment. You don’t have to have meditation mastered or become an expert at shutting out all thoughts in order to feel the benefits of practicing meditation. You simply have to get quiet and notice what your mind and body do when moving away from the distraction that the past and future create for us.