Meditate on your own terms

By Claire Joyce, Columnist

School has always been stressful with homework, exams, dealing with classmates and teachers. But today, students face a new kind of stress. In the wake of a string of violent attacks in schools, an extremely turbulent political climate and the tougher standards needed to succeed in today’s workforce — students from grade school to university are living and working under intense pressure from all angles. In these two weeks before finals, stress and anxiety is especially high.

To cope with these pressures, lots of young people try exercising, spending time with friends or joining recreational RSOs. These are great options — but what about something that doesn’t require anything but you? Not even an instructor. Meditation.

For now, most of us are in college. Lots of things we do for fun or to relieve stress rely on something here at the University, whether that be friends we have here or a class.

So what happens when we graduate? What happens when we leave those classes and friends and end up in a completely new environment on our own? What and who do we turn to to stay balanced and focused?

Ourselves. That’s what meditation does — it gives you the power and freedom to take control of the feelings and stress that today’s world can create for many young people.

Meditation is one of the simplest, cheapest and most convenient ways to reduce stress. In fact, according to the CDC, the percentage of U.S. adults over the age of 18 who have meditated in the past year has risen from 9.5 percent in 2012 to 14 percent in 2017.

Maybe this increase in the number of Americans who meditate is because of our increasingly tumultuous social and political environment; but, it’s also probably because of how increasingly accessible meditation is to people now.

10 years ago, you would’ve had to take a class or buy a video or book to learn how to meditate. Today, free apps such as HeadSpace, The Mindfulness App and Calm allow people to learn though guided meditation exercises. Headspace even offers meditation sessions that take as little as three minutes. The best part is the only thing necessary to meditate now is a phone and you.

This means you don’t have to pay for a class, build your schedule around it or rely on an instructor to help you. Modern day meditation is on your terms, on your schedule and only requires you. This new wave of accessible meditation allows young people, in our rapidly changing lives and lifestyles, to take control of our mental health and stress.

Our lives are busy. We have classes, jobs, internships and extracurriculars. Most of the time, young people don’t have the money, resources or time to relax. That’s why meditation is so important.

Today, with new technology, meditation doesn’t require anyone else’s presence but your own. This puts the power in your hands. No matter what job you end up having, who you’re with, what city you live in, or no matter how the world changes and what new obstacles you’ll face, all you need to get some peace is yourself.

Claire is a sophomore in LAS.

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