How To Practice Mindfulness And Meditation To Enhance Your Well-Being And Academic Performance?

In a world full of stressors, triggers, and hustle, it is virtually impossible not to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and inadequate. From time to time, it is crucial to tune out that external noise and become more aware of your present rather than regretting the past or worrying about the future. This is where mindfulness and meditation come in.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a form of meditation where you focus on being intensely aware of what you are feeling and sensing in the present moment without any judgment or interpretation. Practicing mindfulness involves guided imagery, breathing exercises, and other practices designed to relax the mind and body and help minimize stress. 

Mindfulness is a natural quality that we all have at all times. When we practice it, we are practicing the art of creating space for ourselves – space to breathe, think, and examine our emotions and reactions in their raw form. 

Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation are gaining a lot of traction lately, especially after research confirmed their science-backed benefits for the mind and body. Here we will be looking at the top 5 advantages of practicing mindfulness.  

1. Lowers Anxiety 

Reduced anxiety is perhaps one of the most notable benefits of practicing mindfulness, which not only positively influences our academic performance but also our overall well-being. A Massachusetts General Hospital study published in 2013 shows that 93 individuals with diagnosed anxiety were randomly assigned to either an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MSBR) or a stress management education (SME) group. The people who were part of the mindfulness group showed a drastic reduction in anxiety.  

2. Decreases Cognitive Decline  

People, especially older adults, tend to lose some of their cognitive abilities and short-term memory with age. However, mindfulness may help slow down that cognitive decline, even in Alzheimer’s patients. A 2016 study shows that people with Alzheimer’s disease who were engaged in mindfulness meditation experienced a robust improvement in their cognitive scores compared to other control groups.  

Another study published in 2017 shows that mindfulness and breath training significantly improved the attention span of the participants. This implies that regularly practicing mindfulness may help sharpen memory and increase attention span, both of which are fundamental qualities for excelling academically.  

3. Improves Immune Response

When disease-causing organisms and viruses attack us, our bodies release groups of immune cells that circulate in the bloodstream. These cells, including anti- and pro-inflammatory proteins, T-cells, neutrophils, immunoglobulins, and natural killer cells, allow our bodies to fight infections and diseases in numerous ways. Meditation and mindfulness may affect these immune cells.  

Studies show that practicing mindfulness meditation seemed to increase the levels of T-cells in HIV and breast cancer patients. This shows that doing mindfulness exercises could potentially play a role in battling cancer and other various diseases that require immune cells.  

4. Prevents Cell Aging 

Cell aging is a natural and inevitable phenomenon triggered by stress or other medical conditions. Telomeres, a form of protein found at the end of chromosomes that protect the cell from aging, were seemingly affected by mindfulness and meditation. Research shows that people doing mindfulness for many years may have longer telomeres.  

5. Reduces Psychological Pain  

Mindfulness is very effective at improving our psychological well-being, which ultimately impacts our psychological health. Several studies suggest that mindfulness can help people cope better with anxiety, depression, stress, and pain that might accompany an illness, specifically chronic conditions.  

For instance, substance abuse revolves around psychological cravings for a drug or alcohol temporarily relieving people from mental suffering. Mindfulness can be a fantastic tool for addiction treatment by helping people better understand and fight their cravings. This may even help them avoid relapse after they have been safely discouraged from substance use.  

How to Practice Mindfulness and Meditation Correctly for Best Results? 

Some people confuse mindfulness meditation with completely blocking all thoughts and emotions, which may be more difficult than it sounds. But it’s more than that. How you practice mindfulness will differ based on your desires and goals. However, if you are trying to improve your well-being and academic performance, here are some general rules and tips to keep in mind.  

  • Mindfulness is nothing without intention. You need to choose to be self-aware, disciplined, and mindful. It may not be easy at the start, but you will get there with some practice. 
  • Be clear about your desires. If you want to excel in your studies and improve your well-being, you need to practice being in the present moment. Take a minute to quietly focus on transitioning from your regular surroundings to your academic content.   
  • Surround yourself with things that promote feelings of mindfulness. These could include calming music, incense, a scented candle, a burning sage, relaxing ASMR sounds, etc.  

Once you have set the intention, identified your goals, and created the right environment, you can go ahead and follow the steps below.  

Find a Quiet Space

Using a comfortable chair or cushion, sit up straight but not too stiff. Next, allow your muscles to relax from head to toe. Roll back your shoulders and let your body loose.

Keep a Timer 

If you are a beginner, minutes may feel like hours, which is why it’s best to set an achievable target. Start a short 5-minute session and then gradually work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes until you are comfortable meditating for longer periods.  

Focus On Breathing and Pay Attention to Your Senses

Become fully aware of your breath, and attune to the feeling of air flowing in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your chest rise and fall, fully synchronized with the air as it enters and leaves your nostrils. Pay attention to your senses, including touch, sound, sight, and smell.

For example, if you have music playing or a candle in the background while you meditate, take time to smell the scent and enjoy the music.

Keep Track Of Your Thoughts

The goal here is not to block your thoughts completely but to get more comfortable becoming a “witness” to them. When thoughts pop up in your head, do not try to suppress or ignore them. Instead, note them, stay calm, and use your breathwork to keep yourself grounded. Imagine your thoughts as clouds pass by while you watch them as they change and shift. Repeat this action as many times as you can.

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with too many emotions – whether with fear, anxiety, self-loathing, hope, or depression – observe the pathway your mind took without any interruption or judgment. Don’t be hard on yourself, and quickly return to your breathing and refocus your thoughts.  

Take The Help Of An App

If you find it difficult to practice mindfulness by yourself, you can always take the help of guided meditation. There is a sea of YouTube tutorials and applications to choose from that provide free meditations and teach you the exact steps on how to be more mindful.  

Conclusion

Mindfulness and meditation can be life-changing, provided that you do them with the correct intention and remain consistent. Not only do they help improve academic performance and overall well-being, but they also bring an array of other physical and mental benefits, such as decreased depression, anxiety, and psychological pain, reduced cell aging, and improved immunity.  

 

Simple mindfulness exercises can be practiced anywhere and at any time and require no props or equipment. However, studies show that practicing mindfulness outdoors may more effectively engage your senses. Aim to indulge in mindfulness meditation every day for around six months, and soon you will find the exercise to be effortless.

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Sources
  • Can mindfulness exercises help me? (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356#:~:text=Sit%20comfortably%20with%20your%20back

  • Wong, C. (2021, April 8). Mindfulness Meditation. Verywell Mind; Verywellmind. https://www.verywellmind.com/mindfulness-meditation-88369

  • How to Practice Mindfulness and Find Peace From Within. (n.d.). Www.betterup.com. https://www.betterup.com/blog/how-to-practice-mindfulness

  • Mineo, L. (2018, April 17). Less stress, clearer thoughts with mindfulness meditation. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/less-stress-clearer-thoughts-with-mindfulness-meditation/

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