Meditate the stress away

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Photograph: Sebastien Wiertz

If you’re wondering how to combat the stresses introduced this term, you might consider getting to know licensed mindfulness coach Will Medd, who offers meditation sessions for students on campus. Speaking from his own experience as a student, Will knows that ‘it’s a stressful time as a student. There’s a lot of pressures on you!’ Sadly, such pressures are all too familiar for students; whether it be degree, home, or even family-related, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by stress and disquiet.

This is where meditation is said to help. Will says it can restore the ‘calm and clarity’ to your life by focusing on the here and now rather than worrying about ‘wanting a different future, or changing the past, or wishing we were somewhere else’, which is where Will says most of our disquiet and discomforts spring from. He goes on to say that meditation can even be helpful for physical pain or mental health issues, though is eager to stress it is not a cure, but merely another possible option to alleviate stress and understand your pain or issue in an alternative way. He uses an interesting allegory to describe how meditation can help; ‘If you broke your arm but you were in denial about that broken arm, then you wouldn’t do the things that were needed to mend it, and in a way, what meditation is doing is learning to say oh, hang on, what does a broken arm look like, let’s really pay attention to it and in doing that, what you need to do to mend it becomes really clear.’

Although all this sounds good, Will admits meditation can be difficult. However, there are many ways to try meditation to make it as accessible and enjoyable as possible, and learning to just give it a try and see how you find it is the main thing. You can meditate anywhere, and there are plenty of online courses for beginners to help you along. Will’s advice is to start off doing 5-10 minutes a day and progress from there: ‘the simplest form of meditation is to simply follow your breath and to observe your breath really closely, and to actually do that means sitting with alertness, not just stretched on the sofa, but sitting upright is important.’ If you would prefer a bit more guidance on meditation, Will is about to run a course in week 13 through Student-Based Services, with the central theme being personal resilience. Here, Will will be running an on-campus mindfulness course, but there will also be the option to sign up for an online course. Will says that this course is an ideal place to start for beginners of meditation, so if you’re interested, keep an eye out for information from the university. Will’s book, Get Sorted: How to Make the Most of Your Student Experience, co-written with Jeff Gill, also offers some interesting insights into mindfulness and meditation if you prefer a more theoretical approach to meditation.

Next time you’re feeling stressed about upcoming deadlines, why not set aside 5-10 minutes to try meditation to see if it can help you enjoy life more and restore a sense of calm to your life?