8 Benefits of Meditation for Students
Everyone starts meditating for their own reasons. If you’re like me, you were unsatisfied with your repetitive and negative thoughts and wanted a change. Other people practice it in line with their religious beliefs, and still others seek to enrich their spirituality. No matter what draws you to meditation, you can get a motivation boost by learning about the benefits of meditation. Especially if you’re a student, meditation will improve your life in ways you haven’t even dreamed of. So read on to find out!
1. Lower Depression through Mindfulness
One study showed that students who practiced in-class mindfulness meditation were less likely to develop symptoms like depression. This next study concluded that mindfulness meditation can decrease rumination and dysfunctional beliefs. Finally, this study showed that mindfulness meditation could be as effective as antidepressants in treating depression.
From personal experience, I have used meditation to be more upbeat and positive at work. I used to meditate before going into my job as a delivery driver for a sandwich shop, and I found that whenever I did, I was more cheerful the whole day. I didn’t think about all the things that were wrong in life, in fact, I found myself thinking less. This is a good thing when my thoughts seemed to be abstract musings at best and dejected conjectures at worse.
As a student, you don’t want depression to bog you down while you’re trying to study and get good grades. This benefit of meditation will surely help you keep a lighter tone as you work steadfast towards your goals.
2. Regulate Your Emotions
One of the benefits of meditation is that you can use it to keep your emotions in check. While scientists don’t fully understand why mindfulness meditation is so effective at this, they say that limiting thoughts and replacing them with moment-by-moment awareness does several things. It appears to reduce negativity, increase tolerance for pain and negative affect, and even brings about self-compassion and empathy in negative people. You can even regulate mood and anxiety disorders with mindfulness meditation.
Compassion cultivation training meditation helps meditators grow their emotional awareness of other people and themselves. They experience growth in their ability to suppress worry and experience emotions more freely.
A more nuanced emotional balance in your life from meditation will give you the power to keep focused on your goals and never get too disappointed with outcomes. You will have increased compassion for yourself no matter what grades you get. This will encourage you to invest more energy into your studies and achieve greater things.
3. Reduce Stress
Stress reduction is one of the biggest benefits of meditation. In 2013, researchers found that specific brain regions were enhanced and activated by meditation. These brain regions control worrying and executive brain function. By activating those areas through meditation, anxiety was relieved. People who practice meditation improve their ability to control self-referential thoughts (“Me! Me! It’s all about me!”).
By meditating, you don’t automatically respond to situations. Instead, you get a brief period of time to positively come up with the best choice for the scenario.
You can shut down the negative energy spiral of stress with meditation. You will never binge on technology or overeating in an effort to reduce your stress because you now have the right tool for the job: meditation.
4. Increase Focus
This study found that people who regularly practice meditation can have better focus by altering brain focus. A breakdown of the science reveals that meditators had increased stability in their ventral posteromedial cortex (vPMC) compared to non-meditators. The meditators in the study outperformed the non-meditator group in a concentration-heavy task. The task asked participants to push a button whenever a sequence of numbers flashed on the screen. Numbers were constantly scrolling across the screen, so participants had to watch out for the right combination and stay focused to mark it every time.
You can use meditation to increase your concentration power to aid you in studying. Imagine the gains you could get if you were just 10% more efficient at studying, or got 20% less distracted. Suddenly technology would lose some of its addictive allure. You might feel like you had superpowers, like Neo in The Matrix when he dodges bullets. Plus, you don’t get any of the side effects like lack of hunger, perspiration, increased heart rate and addiction from stimulants. They promise to give you more focus and energy, but over time they suck it away from you.
5. Improve Physical Health
One of the benefits of meditation comes in the form of increased physical health after practicing meditation regularly. This study gave the flu vaccine to two groups. One group was told to meditate for an hour a day, six days a week for up to eight weeks and another group didn’t meditate. The group that meditated showed a significantly larger increase in antibodies developed against the flu than the control group. Another study showed the same result after just eight weeks, but also measured electrical activity in different brain regions. Researchers detected significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, which predicted how much antibody was produced in the subjects.
Additionally, other parts of your brain such as the prefrontal cortex, the right hippocampus and the right anterior insula all have an impact on your immune system. Electrical activity there stimulates your immune system to perform more effectively.
If you’re serious about meditation, you can expect to see the same great benefits come to you as well. The less you get sick, the more you can study and improve yourself as a student. The healthier you are in your body, the more your mind can focus on the abstract goals in your life.
6. Get Better Sleep
Some of the benefits of meditation transcend the mind and make their way into the body. With meditation, you can work on your sleep problems.
Half of the participants in a study referenced here were taught how to meditate and focus on the present moment. The other half (the control group) was put in a sleep education class that taught them how to improve their sleep habits. The meditators, once again, experienced a more positive outcome than the non-meditators. The group that was told to practice mindfulness meditation had less insomnia, depression and fatigue at the end of the study compared to the control group.
One reason meditation helps you sleep better is that it can teach you to become more relaxed. Focusing on one sensation or phrase only trains the mind to quiet down and release all other chattering thoughts. You can practice this mindfulness anytime, especially right before bed, to calm down faster. Another reason meditation aids sleep is the fact that meditation builds a strong Pons area of the brain (which regulates sleep). Also, meditation reduces stress, which is an antagonist of melatonin- the sleep chemical.
7. Reduce Pain
The benefits of meditation include many mental positive outcomes that we have already discussed. But did you know that you can reduce your pain by meditating regularly?
A study referenced here tested 13 Zen masters and 13 non-meditators in their neurological response to pain. Researchers blasted both groups with painful heat and measured their brain activity with an fMRI scanner. It turns out that the Zen group and the non-meditators both showed equal amounts of pain detection in the brain, but the Zen group said they felt less pain than the non-meditators. Areas of the brain responsible for higher-order processes such as cognition, memory and emotion were not as stimulated in the Zen group compared to the non-meditators. This suggests that the Zen group did not associate the pain with negative memories or label their experience as painful- they merely experienced pain non-judgmentally.
Another study showed that mindfulness meditation reduced the pain response by 27%, which is greater than opiates’ pain reduction at 25%. Additionally, meditators’ emotional pain intensity in the study was reduced by 44%.
You can reduce pain in a healthy way without painkillers that numb your senses and your mind. You will be happy to know that by meditating, you are reducing your dependence on drugs and gaining more control over chronic and injury-related pain. Pain will never stop you from being the best student you can be.
8. Accelerate Learning and Improve Memory
The benefits of meditation extend as far as even acceleration in learning and memory improvements.
In a study referenced here, students took the GRE twice: once before a two-week period of classes and once after. One group of students took mindfulness classes, another took nutrition classes. The study found that scores improved in the mindfulness-trained group, not the nutrition group, with an average GRE verbal score increase of 60 points. They also performed better on tests of working memory and focus.
Another study found that workers recalled more of their work details after meditation training. If you’ve ever had that tip of the tongue moment where you don’t exactly know what term you’re looking for on the test and it’s just out of reach- you can benefit from meditation. Plus, meditation enhances your ability to focus, meaning that you will be zoned into the studying you’re doing more of the time than distracted. You’ll remember more from your study sessions as a consequence of being more engaged.
[Gong noise] That concludes our session of learning about the benefits of meditation. May you be safe, healthy, happy and at peace. Namaste.
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