Meditation Might be the Stress Reliever You Need

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Students can use meditation techniques to better cope with stress and their academics. (ERIN O'FLYNN/THE OBSERVER)

By JADE GRIFFIN
Staff Writer

College is undoubtedly hectic with the multiple classes and the many homework assignments that come with them. Not to mention, many of us have jobs and want to maintain a healthy social life as well. Meditation is a great method of relieving a lot of the stress that all people experience. Meditation is a solitary and personal practice, thus everyone can reap their very own, intimate benefits.

Meditation has grown from an ancient Hindu practice, tracing as far back as 1500 B.C.E. in India, to one that is universal and encouraged for anyone to embrace. Its ultimate goal is to provide one with a sense of realization, specifically self-realization, on the deepest level. Furthermore, it brings great peace and level-mindedness to one in their daily life. Meditation often consists of silence and closing your eyes, sitting comfortably, relaxing, and focusing on your breathing. Most importantly, the mind should intend great contemplation. The best part of mediation is that there is no specific way to do it. It all depends on one’s experience and simply, what works best for an individual.

Nicole DeSimone, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’20, attested to the power of her own meditative practice. “Meditation has helped me in all aspects, such as feeling more peaceful in stressful situations, more relaxed, and overall, much happier. I tend to meditate in the morning, making for a day of positive energy.”

Dr. Natasha Black, Ph.D and Licensed Psychologist, Fordham University Counseling & Psychological Services, meditates on a regular basis. Her background is in mindfulness and she emphasizes the benefits of being mindful as a result of meditation. Black stated, “Being more mindful is something that I think helps me put situations into perspective a lot faster and the reason I am able to be more mindful is because I’m practicing meditation. The benefits are lasting even when you’re not in the moment, mediating.”

Black’s meditative practice “helps [her] manage [her] stress on a number of levels. Also, because [she’s] a practicing therapist, it helps [her] regulate a lot of difficult emotions that get stirred up in [her].” Aside from stress, “there are so many [benefits to meditation] that it’s actually hard to name,” Black continued. “It really does help improve people’s sleep and can regulate a lot of bodily functions, like weight management. Mindfulness can also improve one’s concentration, and improve one’s memory substantially. Not only will meditators have better cognitive function in the moment, but they tend to have less cognitive degradation as they age, as compared to people who don’t, resulting in better alertness.”

Of all benefits, however, stress reduction is most targeted. It is common for many of us to feel stressed or threatened in any circumstance, therefore succumbing to our body’s natural “fight-or-flight” response. The “relaxation response,” pioneered in the 1970s by Harvard doctor Herbert Benson in the US, is intended to counter this very “fight-or-flight” response through a state of deep relaxation, faster breathing and increased bloodflow to the muscles. This is triggered by repeating a certain word, such as “uhm,” or rather, using one that holds a special meaning to you. As a result, the “relaxation response” is more of an immediate method of countering stress through meditation.

In a particularly relevant sense, Black mentions that, “a lot of people talk about having improved relationships outside of their physical and personal health because they are able to see things more clearly in the moment as they are happening, allowing one to manage personal conflicts with more ease.” Subsequently, mediation proves beneficial in all aspects of one’s personal life, both long and short term.

For those considering meditation, there are a plethora of meditation techniques to try. For instance, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves recasting negative events and emotions in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. As there are a broad range of meditative mindset practices, one has the freedom to choose one that seems most interesting and manageable to them.

Furthermore, Black recommends the KORU mindfulness class offered at both Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses which promotes a mindful practice. “Counseling & Psychological Services also has an app that has a lot of guided meditations on it, called the ‘Stressbusters’ app, customized specifically for Fordham”. Black concluded, “if you are interested in meditation, you should try it. There are a lot of ways to get into it. You don’t have to have any experience to utilize the resources offered by CPS.”