Andover High students constantly balance difficult classes, sports and activities, peer pressures, and countless more individual worries. Stress among high schoolers seems to be growing every year and yet, no one seems to have the answer for what can reduce stress. Myself, being a senior stressed about college, grades, and still enjoying my senior year, I decided to try a new technique to help reduce the amount of stress I felt—meditation.
Throughout the next few months I will practice Mindfulness Meditation and Loving and Kindness Meditation. My goal is to inform students, and anyone wishing to reduce stress, about what meditation is and how to correctly practice both types. Though I am definitely learning myself, through my own experience, I will explain what I have found through practicing first Mindfulness and later Loving and Kindness meditation, in April and May.
During the course of February I practiced Mindfulness meditation regularly to note the effects it has on my stress levels. Mindfulness meditation is practiced sitting with eyes closed, cross-legged on a cushion, or on a chair, with the back straight. Attention is put on the movement of the abdomen when breathing in and out, or on the awareness of the breath as it goes in and out the nostrils. It can be practiced for as little as ten minutes a day, in any spare moment that you have.
After a month of practicing Mindfulness meditation, I have begun to feel slightly more relaxed. When I originally started I found it hard to focus and keep my mind from wandering to thoughts of homework, tests, and my busy schedule. Some tips for someone just starting out would be to count your breaths. This really helps to keep you focused. Also don’t worry about how you are sitting, and how straight your back is. I started out lying down and worked my way towards sitting up. Another tip would be to meditate at the same time every day, to create a routine. I meditated before bed and this helped me to fall asleep.
Although, I definitely don’t feel completely relaxed I have noticed improvements in my mood, and energy levels. In the next month I will continue to practice Mindfulness Meditation, and hopefully continue to reduce my stress levels more and more, as well as deliver more helpful tips and experience.
By Kate Hunt