When you hear the word meditation, you might picture a monk living in some sunless mountain cave, secluded from the world.
But meditation can be a great form of relaxation for a student who is stressed out about papers and midterms.
Most students have a clear picture of meditation in their minds. “[It’s] just closing your eyes and clearing your mind,” said Omar Merchant, a senior majoring in biology.
Meditation deals with your mind and its processes.
Adam Burke, a research psychologist and assistant professor at San Francisco State University says that “Meditation is the study of attention. Attention is a cognitive phenomenon. Meditation is the capacity of the brain to attend to something over a period of time.”
Some might think meditation is a form of worship or is linked to religion.
But the truth is meditation is quite removed from religion or any other set of organized beliefs.
Meditation should not be confused with contemplation, which is the act of thinking about concepts and the superficial aspects of life. Instead, meditation aims to go beyond the superficial and to delve into the subconscious.
The term meditation is often used to describe the process of simply forgetting about your worries and escaping reality for a while.
“[I] make time for myself and go to the art museum, my secret place on campus where I can escape,” said Matthew Arkfeld, a freshman majoring in East Asian languages and cultures.
When performed regularly, meditation, in any form, has many benefits.
Meditating helps the different hormones in the brain reach equilibrium. It also increases the levels of serotonin, which influences mood and behavior, thus aiding anger management and giving you a happy feeling.
For USC students, access to programs and classes on meditation is as easy as walking into the Lyon Center. The Lyon Center holds various programs for yoga, meditation and even counseling.
There is also the USC Yoga and Service Club, which holds events for the USC community, as well as for local schools.
Although it might take some time to clear your mind and adopt an attitude that is conducive to reaching emotional and physical stability, it is definitely a beneficial habit.
Meditating calms and focuses the mind, which would otherwise be crowded with millions of to-dos and what-ifs. Many devotees have even experienced a resolution of phobias.
Physically, meditation has proven to be very important in post-operative healing — especially for those with heart problems and chronic illnesses.
Meditation allows people to go beyond their initial perceptions, giving those who meditate deeper opinions and greater wisdom and understanding.
Dr. Jatin Shah, chief of service in urgent care and a USC Emergency Clinic physician said he has been meditating before bed for the past four years and recommends the practice. Meditating before bed has been shown to improve sleeping habits and lead to deeper and more restful sleep.
Alternatively, concentrating on breathing in the morning allows for improved lung usage throughout the day.
Breathing lets the air reach all organs in order to remove toxins from the muscles and blood. This detoxification creates a stronger immune system and a healthier body.
Yet the process of meditation is not a simple one.
“Bear in mind that complete relaxation cannot be achieved in just one attempt,” Shah said. “It takes a while to perfect [the meditative state],” Shah said.
Meditation does not mean instant peace of mind. Rather, it means the beginning of a long process of gaining inner peace.
“It’s just a matter of if you have the time and patience to put into it,” said Namrata Abhyankar, a freshman film and television production major.
Though it might take some time to clear your mind and adopt an attitude that is conducive to reaching emotional and physical stability, you won’t regret the benefits in the end.
Physical education classes can be found in the USC Catalogue, at web-app.usc.edu/soc.
You can also check out the calendar of upcoming events at the Lyon Center and start your journey today.