I’ve had a personal transformation in college, and most of it can be attributed to the power of meditation. I started meditating two summers ago, and I still sit for 15 minutes everyday. There’s a whole Wikipedia page on the scientifically researched benefits of meditation, which include decreased anxiety, depression and stress, and improved focus and concentration. Personally, meditation has also made me more compassionate, driven, and self-confident.
Meditating is easy. Physically, all you need to do is sit still for 10 or 15 minutes. I read the free pdf called “Mindfulness In Plain English” when I first started, which gives a great intro to a type of meditation called Vipassana (“insight”). Your point of concentration in Vipassana is your breath: breathing in and out, feeling the air blow past the edge of your nostrils, thinking of nothing. When your mind starts wandering, simply acknowledge that it has been wandering, and return to focusing your breath. That’s it. Of course, there are a ton of other resources that can help you get started. Yale has a good website on another type of meditation called Metta (“loving-kindness/compassion”) meditation. There are a lot of guided meditation videos on YouTube too. The online meditation community within Reddit is also a great resource for beginners. Penn even offers group meditation and qigong sessions through the Graduate Student Center several times a week; they are led by a very friendly lady named Sandi, who also provides one-on-one stress reduction sessions at the Student Health Service office.
Meditation provides many benefits in addition to stress-reduction; anyone can do it to improve the quality of his or her life. It’s what started and continues to sustain the personal journey of self-discovery and self-improvement that I am on today–the journey to becoming a better student, a better friend, a better son, a better person. Meditation is something definitely worth trying.