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Meditation: 6 things I’ve learned

This article was originally published by Olive on the Life@UofT blog.

University can be an exciting time, but also a very stressful time. This week I bring you my story about the wonders of meditation.

I have always found that there isn’t much free time in university, my days are filled up with friends, classes, and clubs. If I’m not doing that, then I should probably be studying. Personally, I need something to stabilize the stress and excitement I feel each day. This summer my mom noticed how anxious I was (yes during the summer ugh) and suggested I try meditation.

What I Do

  • sit cross legged on my yoga mat, palms down, and eyes closed
  • breathe in for 5 seconds, breathe out for 5 seconds
  • I count these deep breaths in groups of 10 (x5), but technically I do 50 breaths
  • focus only on my breath (try to ignore other thoughts, be in the moment)
  • afterward, I like to do 4 sun salutations just to get my blood pumping.

Note: in the summer I only did this on weekends, now I try to do it 4 times a week, with the goal of doing it every day.

If I’m having trouble focusing I like to put on a youtube meditation instead; it’s nice to have a guide. This channel uploads different exercises for specific moods, but it also offers different instructors, so you can choose whose voice you like the most too! Here’s one of my favourite videos: Morning Mindfulness Meditation The Perfect Way to Start Your Day.

Six Things I’ve Learned

  1. It doesn’t have to be in the morning, sometimes if I’ve had a tough day, it is more useful for me to meditate at night.
  2. Meditation is about taking time for yourself, getting thoughts straight, recognizing how you feel about the events of the day, if they have passed or are still yet to happen. It is a way of being mindful.
  3. You don’t need to meditate for half an hour, most people recommend ten minutes, but I personally think you need to work your way up to that even.
  4. It is important to allow certain thoughts to float through your head, you should focus on your breathing, but also allow yourself to feel without going down a rabbit hole.
  5. Meditation isn’t the perfect cure for stress but it certainly helps me figure out what’s going on in my head.
  6. If I’m stressed, sometimes the best thing I can do is take a couple deep breaths.

Meditation has allowed me to feel accomplished in a wonderful way. Since I am doing it for myself, I am the only one who can recognize my achievements. There is no competition in meditation because it is about your own self-regulation and wellbeing.

Sometimes I find myself thinking that I don’t have time to meditate with my busy schedule, but that is exactly why meditation is so important. We all need time to reflect and press pause for a few moments.

I encourage you to try taking a few deep and mindful breaths tomorrow morning before you start your day. Remember to be gentle with yourself and others.

Republished: 23 February 2020