The education system has rapidly changed over the past few decades. Students entering colleges must excel and compete for dwindling scholarships amongst their newfound freedoms and struggles with individual identities. From the classrooms to their home lives, many students find themselves under immense pressure, stress and an increasing number battle attention deficit disorder and depression. This has not gone unnoticed by some universities. Nationwide, there is a growing push for the integration of meditation in higher education.
About 18 million college students are dealing with mental health issues and statistics nationwide show a 50 percent increase in the diagnosis of depression. Stress levels for college students can be through the roof. A study of 159 university students who were at-risk for hypertension showed a reduction in blood pressure and distress and improved mental health and coping abilities after three months of practicing meditation.
Mediation has shown to be a buffer against the stresses of college life and improved learning, according to research at American University. Students who meditated reacted better to stress, were less fatigued and had more ‘integrated’ brains after 10-weeks of meditation.
Fred Travis, the lead author of the study, said, “The meditation technique could be of substantial value for anyone facing an intense and challenging learning/work environment.”
One of the students in the meditation control group, Patricia Spurio, had a full credit load, a part-time internship, and was involved in campus activities. In an interview with Science News, she said, “For me the greatest benefit was being able to have these two 20-minute periods of meditation. I could feel my whole body releasing the stress of the day. When done, I felt rested and ready for more activity. Meditation helped me get through it all in a more healthy and balanced way.”
Teachers have even noticed the intense stress college students incur from pulling all nighters and juggling the demands of college life. Molly Beauregard, a teacher at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, developed a class for college students to learn to manage stress and tap into their creative prowess by mediating twice a day. The David Lynch Foundation Television made a short film about the students and the positive influence mediation has had in balancing their college experience.
Since college students are particularly prone to psychological distress caused by social problems, financial strains, academic success and undetermined futures, meditation in higher education seems like an essential need for mental health. Meditation in higher education enables students to balance their feelings, relax, build confidence, creativity, acceptance and develop closer relationships during a critical time of adulthood. Meditation for college students helps to fulfill goals of the educators and allows the students to de-stress, relax and find a calm and safe place in the whirlwind of the university experience.
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