Meditation in university can take many forms

Connecting body and mind as a Queen’s student  

Meditation can be a useful tool for university students.

One of the words most frequently used to describe student life at Queen’s and beyond is “stressful.”

With newfound independence and never-ending responsibilities, it becomes difficult for students to find the time to focus and reduce the natural anxieties from university.

Mindfulness is a daunting term. To many, it implies the need for a large window of free time, space, and opportunity, and for most students, that just doesn’t seem realistic.

I’ve come to discover that mindfulness doesn’t take one true form, and meditation can be practiced in different ways.

Meditation has its historical roots in many religious contexts, most notably within Hinduism and Buddhism as a spiritual exercise. Now, scientific research has proven a clear connection between the practice of meditation and the increase of happiness and reduction of stress.

It can be built-in to daily routines, including the walk across campus or the 10-minute break between classes.

In my first year, walking meditation became an important aspect of my everyday life, especially during the midst of pandemic-induced lockdowns. This type of meditation refers to the practice of connecting the mind and body while on the move.

During walking meditation, I pay close attention to each step and breath to bring me into a meditative state, in which I redirect my mind from disruptive thoughts and stresses. By becoming aware of my posture, movement, sensations, and surroundings, I prompt my mind to focus on the present moment and establish a rhythm.

Sitting meditation has become an equally important technique for me, particularly while working on a project or assignment for long periods of time. It encourages me to step away from what often seems like an impossible task and find a quiet, comfortable space.

I usually give myself a set amount of time and then bring my attention to my breath, returning to this attention each time I notice my mind start to wander. Afterwards, when I revisit the work laid out for me, I feel a sharpened sense of focus.

Sometimes, I come up with a plan of re-approach and consider new ideas that I couldn’t identify before because my focus had been fixed on frustration with the old ones.

I often pair these independent meditation sessions with guided meditations, which are accessible through apps such as Headspace. Headspace involves a paid subscription, and another app, Insight Timer, offers free meditation resources to walk users through sessions and help maintain awareness of breath and movement.

There are many ways in which meditation and mindfulness can be integrated into the chaos and challenges of student life. There’s no ‘one size fits all model.’

These practices can be adapted to fit individual schedules and needs to develop calming and reflective routines when we are alone at home, walking across campus to our next class, or studying in the library.

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