A little meditation education

Ohmmmm. Ohmmmm. Yeah, no. There’s a lot more to meditation than sitting on the ground, closing one’s eyes and breathing. Meditation is a practice to help people train their mind to become more self aware, enhance concentration and improve the quality of life overall.

Everyone meditates differently. Whether one likes to meditate for two minutes or two hours really depends on the person. But, meditation can be beneficial for anyone.

“I believe meditation to be a practice of peace and awareness, and during meditation our mind is calm, silent and fully present. You can do a one-minute meditation or a two-hour meditation. You can meditate as little or as long as you like. There is no set in stone rule on how long you have to meditate. I like a variety of meditations. Sometimes it is a guided meditation with the app ‘Insight Timer’, sometimes it is closing my eyes, breathing and sitting in silence and sometimes it is walking in nature on a walking meditation,” health and lifestyle coach Carrie Saba said.

Meditation has many benefits that aren’t just reducing stress. It gives people time to reflect on their day and think about how they can make tomorrow better. According to a study conducted by UCLA, long-term meditators have better preserved brains than people who don’t meditate.

“Oh my gosh, there are so many benefits! It promotes relaxation, lowers your blood pressure because it reduces stress, makes you more patient and compassionate. It is so helpful with pent up frustration and forgiveness. It helps with depression and anxiety, by identifying the causes of your stress but not identifying with the stress. It allows you to separate the stress, frustration and sadness from yourself,” science teacher Jessica Timmons said.

Misunderstanding meditation leads people to slow down the process of actually relaxing. Learning how you meditate best may take a little bit of time, but meditation can be a quick process.

“I think one misconception is that you have to do it for really long periods of time to get a benefit from it. That just is not true. I know people who have meditated three minutes a day and have gained a lot of benefit. I also think another misconception is that you have to be an expert to meditate and that you have to take a class or something. Again, that is not true. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and breathing in and out. If you try that even for a few seconds it helps calm your nervous system. And people often say, ‘I can’t meditate because I can’t stop thinking.’ It is hard to stop our brains from going, going, going. However, if you stop judging what you’re thinking about and just let it float in and out during your meditation eventually all that noise in your head will slow down you will find the peace and silence,” Saba said.

Many people meditate in the ‘average’ setting- a couch, a bed, or the floor. The ‘traditional’ way to meditate is sitting cross legged, breathing in and out and letting one’s mind be at ease.

“Some people practice meditation when they go to yoga classes. You focus on breathing, breathing in and breathing out. You have to remind your brain to not wander and focus on other crud or things that are going on in your daily. I can meditate while running, because I focus on my breathing, and I force myself to listen to my feet striking the gravel, and I pay attention to my posture,” Timmons said.

The mistake that meditation is unproductive is false. It can be during one’s favorite sport, exercise or getting clean. Meditation can happen almost anywhere and one of the best places is in nature.

“Sometimes I meditate in the bath, shooting basketballs by myself or on walks. I think a misconception people have about meditation is that you have to sit and say ‘ohm.’ The best time to meditate is when you can get alone. Being outside at a park is really good because you are usually alone with nature and the birds are chirping. Being in nature really helps you think,” frequent meditator junior Joseph Tadres said.

Illustration by Alexa Smith


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