Ask any college student, present or former, about the stress of Higher Education, and you will be met with a unanimous response. College is stressful. Even though my college experience is well in my past, I can remember feeling overwhelming stress during the process, to the point that I was experiencing chronic neck and shoulder pain. It was during this very stressful point in my life that I discovered yoga and meditation to help me deal with the mounting expectations of student life. Now a study of D.C. college students shows that meditation can go a long way in helping students deal with the stresses of college.
The study shows that meditation can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and curb depression. Following almost 300 graduate and undergraduate students in the D.C. area, the study used the trademarked Transcendental Meditation technique as the modus operandi. A portion of the students were taught the technique which uses mantra to focus and relax the mind at the start of the study while the other portion were taught the techniques later on. The students were reevaluated after three months of independent practice. Those who were using the meditation technique regularly stated that they felt better, and their risk of hypertension dropped significantly based on findings of the study.
Georgetown, University of Maryland, and George Washington University are only a few of the many Higher Education institutions that are addressing the needs of the students and recognizing the benefits of stress reduction by offering meditation on campuses.
I think it is important to note, that though the study focused on one specific style of meditation (Transcendental Meditation), there are a multitude of techniques that could offer comparable results. As our understanding of stress and it’s effects on the body and mind grows, the alternative techniques to deal with stress are becoming more and more accepted. Mindfulness meditation, hatha yoga, and tai chi are only a few of the ways that colleges and universities are providing resources for their students to deal with stress.
As science continues to understand the negative effects of stress on our mental and physical bodies, techniques like meditation and yoga that were once considered fringe are becoming prolifically mainstream. If we can begin to understand and utilize these techniques before stress becomes an issue, then these tools can be even more valuable. Rather than simply provide these options for students to choose, what if we added stress reduction classes to the curriculum, and not just in colleges and universities, but as early as high school. Then students will have the tools to deal with stress and anxiety prior to it building to dangerous levels.
As parents, educators, and practitioners, we can offer our experiences and our knowledge to support this growing body of evidence that alternative methods of stress reduction are highly effective and accessible.
Have you had an experience with using meditation or other forms of healing arts to deal with the stresses of college life? What do you think about it.