Meditating in order to achieve mental clarity & end stress

Photo by Julia Bunch

The madness of the hustle and bustle of college life is inevitable. Between hellish midterms, club meetings and hangovers, our minds are unable to have a suitable break to relax and recuperate. Given the magnitude of information and analysis we’re forced to process on a daily basis for classes, lest we cram and study to get the grade, not the material, it’s imperative that we have some sort of mental medicine.

Enter a regular day at my mosque, and I learned about the incredible benefits of meditation. At first, I thought it was an ordinary religious sermon about meditation to remind me that I need to up my time with God, but legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson was referenced and made the anecdotal pinnacle of the speech, I knew there was something more to this.

Turns out, Jackson encouraged his players to meditate before a big game, turning off the lights on the day of the game and letting his players focus simply on their breathing for five to ten minutes in complete silence. Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and other players even vouch for the legitimacy of this.

Taking a look back, it seemed surprising that one of the highest paid basketball coaches in the league would essentially act the opposite of the obstreperous, spit-flying-while-yelling coaches one sees on gameday. There has to be truth to this. I mean, Gandhi, Confucius and other philosophers whose names are etched in history meditated regularly. So why haven’t we jumped on this bus?

Well, I decided to try this out. As busy as my schedule, as most other students’ schedules are, I forced myself to take five minutes at the end of the day and focus on absolutely nothing. Between managing a section, research and 17 credit hours of classes, I found it extremely difficult to clear my head at first. Normally, my workouts at the gym were the time to destress—but that was because I had something else to do. With meditation, there was nothing to distract me from the worldly matters, and escape seemed futile. But as the week progressed and my ADD sank into the recesses of my brain, I was able to find more focus and truly eradicate the stress from my mind.

Probably the most surprising thing was that, once I did this, I began to feel much more confident and make rational decisions. Suddenly, reading homework assignments (when I did) wasn’t just reading the material but absorbing the information.

Not to mention the large carryover this had during my workouts as well. And finally, my sleep cycle —what little of it I got—seemed more efficient and I woke up feeling much more refreshed than before.

We have to understand that our minds are responsible for every action, voluntary or involuntary, that we do. We cram it with information everyday. To really prevent our minds from burning out, we really should consider giving it a total break — maybe not even just partying that we think is a break from studying, but a break from all activity altogether.