Meditation for the Unsettled Mind

Brandon leans on a tree.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

It’s Thursday night. Will and his friend decide to go grab some fast food before the restaurants on Delsea Drive close. His friend rolls down the window at the drive-thru to give her order. Chicken nuggets. Classic.

Wait, that reminds him. That composition paper on poultry processing is due tomorrow. It’s cool though, he has time to do it. But wait, he was going to take that statistics exam tomorrow. He was also going to do laundry, call his grandma and hit the gym.

Suddenly, Will’s mind is flooded with every single thing he was anxious about this week.

In these moments, the small tasks we stress over can get the best of us. A good way to bring yourself back to reality is through meditation. 

Brandon crouches in a wooded area of campus.

When thinking about meditation, we probably picture someone sitting on the floor, cross-legged, reciting the word “om” over and over again. Luckily for us, this is not the only way to meditate. Meditation can be done anywhere and in any position. You can meditate while walking through campus or even sitting on the couch. Mindful.org provides a great step-by-step guide for us to follow.  

To begin, set a time limit. If taking a walk, just follow a path and finish at the end. If sitting down, use your phone’s timer.

Brandon sits on a swing in the woods.

Next, get comfortable and become aware of the body. With intent, move different body parts to where they are most comfortable. Straighten the spine. Keep the eyes closed if it is more relaxing. 

Now, pay attention to breathing. Inhale for five seconds, then exhale for five seconds. The important part of this step is counting each second. By doing this, the mind will focus solely on air intake and relaxing the body. This will push out the stressors that are causing anxiety. 

Brandon sits on the ground in the woods.

After a while, the mind will wander. Allow it to do this. According to Stacce Reicherzer, a professional counselor, educator and author, this will lead the meditator down different avenues of thought and begin to think about problems in a new light. Wherever the mind goes, it is always important to bring it back. Focus on breathing again. Count breaths (Reischerzer, Feinberg, Gonzales, & Liang, 2021).  

Once finished, always close with kindness. Look around and take notice of the environment. Pay attention to how the body feels. 

Brandon leans on some branches in the woods.

Meditation can provide us with new understandings and better focus. However, it is important to remember that it is not a cure or end-all-be-all. While it helps us to relax in the moment, we may still need to more directly address the problems we face. 

Reference:

Reicherzer, S., Feinberg, H. H., Gonzales, A., & Liang, N.-C. (2021, August 31). How to meditate. Mindful. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/. 

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Story by:
Brandon Simon, senior communication studies major from Middlesex County, NJ

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

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